How to Help in the Ebola Crisis
In February, 2012, a mission team of eight from HPUCMC visited Liberia. Our trip allowed us an overview of the work of the UMC in the country of Liberia.
Our trip started in Monrovia, but our destination was the Ganta United Methodist Hospital. Although Ganta, the second largest city in Liberia, is only 165 miles from Monrovia, the trip there takes six hours. I would compare the drive to a combination of bumper cars and The Racer at Kings Island! Eleven years of civil war have completely decimated the infrastructure of Liberia. There are no systems for “city water”, roads outside Monrovia are mostly a series of potholes, and electricity is only available where individuals and/or businesses can afford a generator and fuel. The Ganta Hospital, in northeast Liberia, is just across the border from the Guinea forest, and within easy travel to Cote d’Ivoire. It is the only referral hospital (with approximately 140-150 beds), serving a region with a population of around 450,000.
At the Ganta Hospital, we helped sort donated medical supplies, toured the facilities, and talked with staff about the services provided, advances in treatment of chronic disease, and their continuing needs. Dr. Warren Webster was able to join one of the staff physicians, seeing patients in the day clinic. Perhaps the most memorable story from our visit, was when Dr. Willicor (UMC missionary and medical chief of staff) came by to “request the services of the general surgeon” (Dr. John Bossert). When we next saw Dr. Bossert, we learned that he’d been pressed into service to perform an appendectomy on an emergency admission. Before we left the hospital the following morning, Dr. Bossert went to check on his patient, who was in the main ward with numerous other male patients, and found, taped above the man’s hospital bed, a sign on which was printed, “ICU”.
We were fortunate to stay with Bishop John Innis, in Monrovia, at the beginning and end of our trip. While there, we visited the West Point slum. For the eight of us, it’s not hard to imagine just how quickly a disease like Ebola could spread in West Point! You may have heard Victor Taryor, the hospital administrator and UM missionary, speak to the congregation in late March of this year – and/or your elementary aged children may have heard him speak in their Sunday School class – about the continuing needs at the hospital, for both supplies and staff. The Sunday School classes took on raising funds for malaria bed nets for children and families in the surrounding communities, prior to the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa.
The Ebola epidemic has been devastating to Liberia, which was just beginning to make progress on rebuilding infrastructure and systems, after their civil war. To help with the church’s efforts to support hospitals and health workers during this crisis, you can make contributions through UMCOR’s Ebola Emergency Advance or, you can write a check to HPCUMC, and mark “Ebola Advance” in the memo line.
-Barb Fillion, liaison to Liberia