10 Dec 2014 Sisters Hospitallers will reopen the Saint Benedict Menni Health Center of Monrovia in January

Encarnación González, Sister Hospitaller, and Mikel Tellaeche, CEO of Aita Menni Hospital in Arrasate (Basque Country, Spain) and Health Program Manager at the Saint Benedict Menni Health Center, had headed up to Liberia to address the reopening in January of the center, which comprises a Communitary Care Service specialized in emergencies. Along with them, Sisters Joana Agbotse and Colette Banka flew from Ghana to Monrovia.

Although the state of emergency in Liberia was lifted on November 13th, there are plenty of shortages and fight against Ebola virus has not finished. Many of the needs are still uncovered: health staff, drugs and facilities to care for Ebola patients as well as patients who suffer other conditions and can´t be treated. After the outbreak and the colapse of the national health service, the estimation is that only 10% of the previous capacity is functioning. The emergency is double: keeping on controlling the outbreak and rebuilding the health system. The reopening of the St. Benedict Menni Health Center has been included into the actions addressed by the Ministry of Health and Social Wellfare (MOH&SW) for the reconstruction of the National Health System. 

Facing this situation, Sisters Hospitallers, along with the health services of the Diocese of Monrovia and the help of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), decided to reopen the Saint Benedict Menni Health Center, closed last August. The facility is a health center located in Paynesville, close to Pipeline Road, which offers health care to an estimated population of 7,500 inhabitants.

Actividad Benedict Menni Center, Monrovia, Liberia

Indicators of activity at the St. Benedict Menni Health Center (2013)

Due to the Ebola epidemic, reopening the center involves some actions to guarantee the safety of patients and staff, mainly adaptations in the facility and staff´s training. Amongst the adaptations, and according to the safety protocols from MSF, an area with a triage and an isolation zone for suspicious cases has to be build at the entrance.

Triaje Saint Joseph´s Catholic Hospital, Monrovia, Liberia

Triaje en el Saint Joseph´s Catholic Hospital, Monrovia, Liberia

Estimations say that the construction works will be finished at the end of January and, thanks to the effort of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), will be funded by Caritas Belgium. Additionally, a new incinerator will be installed, and CRS will send technicians to assess and guarantee the potability of the two water wells at the center. Training of the staff will start on December 15th and will continue until the reopening. The center will reopen with  the OutPatient Department and vaccination. In a second stage the Maternity will be opened.

Background of the Saint Benedict Menni Health Center

The Saint Benedict Menni Health Center, located in Monrovia, Liberia, was focused in primary healthcare services, with a specific Maternity area. It remains closed since last August, due to the impossibility to guarantee the safety of the patients and the staff. The center was managed by three Sisters Hospitallers: Felicia Inmaculada Gbortsu, Colette Banka and María Encarnación González Calzada, who along with 20 proffessionals and one volunteer took care everyday of and average of 30 patients.

Nowadays, Sisters Hospitallers is present in 27 countries of 4 continents, with more than 350 facilities of social and health care.

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