Last week, Ansu -- a security guard at Nana's Lodge next door -- stepped on a massive nail covered in rust while brushing the area around the road. Incidentally, the request to brush was issued directly by the President herself when she visited last weekend, as apparently the encroaching bush was a bit unsightly. This, of course, has nothing to do with why Ansu stepped on the nail.
A resident missionary nurse, acting nanny for the On Surfari peeps' small children, immediately prescribed a tetanus shot and asked if I'd like to accompany her on a short visit to tour St. Timothy's, the hospital up the hill. She and her husband, over a period of years, have filled and shipped a container of medical supplies to distribute to at-need locations around Liberia -- quite a feat, when you think about it -- and she was interested in seeing if St. Timothy's qualified as being in-need.
When we arrived at the hospital on the hill, up an appalling dirt road that made me grateful I wasn't in an ambulance, we were greeted by the hospital administrators and shown around.
Now, it goes without saying that the St. Timothy's Hospital in Robertsport is not a place I ever, under even the best of circumstances, want to visit as a patient. But there was little crowding, clean conditions, clearly posted information and -- although it was a Sunday -- medical staff were visibly in attendance. Things could have been much, much worse.
What struck me most about the visit was the maternity ward. As I've mentioned elsewhere, Liberia has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. If you're a Liberian woman, getting pregnant is one of the most dangerous things you can do. At St. Timothy's, when the missionary nurse asked what the OB/GYN needed, she immediately starting listing things like bedding -- simple sheets and blankets -- and delivery kits, as the hospital only has one. "When it gets busy here," she said shaking her head, "we only have one to sterilize and share between four or five women."
I'll go back and visit the hospital when I have some time on my hands and talk more to the OB/GYN about what we can do to improve their capacity. In the meantime, if anyone wants to send donations for me to buy things here, let me know. I'll do it and post back here on its impact.