Yesterday was a really important day for Koutiala Women and Children's Hospital. The new buildings were dedicated in an all day event that included music, food, speeches, and tours of the new buildings. There were some very distinguished guests who attended, including the Minister of Health of Mali, a representative from the American ambassador to Mali, along with local and regional police officials and army officials. There were several hundred people in attendance who were seated under open-air tents in the space between the current women's building and the new buildings. There was a 50 person choir who sang songs and danced to African drums and kept the place energized. The entire hospital staff participated and everyone was dressed in their best, most colorful African clothing.
The event couldn't officially start until the most important person had arrived. In this case it was the Minister of Health. The local schools were called upon to have their students line the street from town to the hospital. When his caravan of SUVs and Mercedes arrived, the students cheered. The hospital staff, American and Malian, lined up to receive him and shake hands with him. It was really quite a sight. Once he arrived, the speeches began.
Isaiah (pediatric staff) and his little girl
After the speeches our hospital director and medical director gave the Minist
er of Health and the American embassy official a tour of the hospital. Dozens of ladies from a c
ouple of local churches spent two days preparing the meal of rice, vegetables and meat. We sat in groups of four and five throughout the hospital and ate our meal. Meals in Mali are generally shared from a common large bowl. This was no exception. I'm getting better at eating with
my hands. That means I'm not dropping half of my rice on the ground as I'm trying to get it to my mouth. I ate with some of the pediatric staff and enjoyed the time with them.
Around four in the afternoon the officials and Health Minister left. It was a good day of celebration and everyone was excited and proud that our little hospital was given such a nice dedication. For a Christian hospital in a predominately Muslim country to receive recognition like this can only be a good thing. I'm thankful that we have favor in the eyes of the government of Mali. I pray that will continue for many years to come.
Staff dressed up for the event
Staff members little boy.
In my last blog post I included a picture of Miriam, the little girl with TB who seemed to be getting better after three months in the hospital. Sadly, Miriam's condition took a turn for the worse about two weeks ago. She developed some severe breathing difficulty one afternoon and we did all we could to help. We gave more oxygen, more medicines, but nothing helped. Miriam did not make it and we were all very saddened by her death. We're not certain what made her suddenly deteriorate. The hospital staff had grown to care for her over the months she was here. They took it very hard. Miriam's mother, a Christian, thanked our nursing director, Jessica, for all that had been done for Miriam during her months at the hospital.
I haven't experienced the death of a patient in a very long time. Miriam was one of four deaths we had in two weeks. In private practice in the States we have very few patients die. The ones that do are most often in a children's ICU at a children's hospital being cared for by specialists. We are the specialists here. Kind of scary and exciting at the same time. Please pray that God would give us wisdom beyond our training and education as we care for these sick kids.