A History of Excellence in Health Care in Liberia
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The tile flooring at Phebe Hospital and School of Nursing
in Suakoko, Bong County, Liberia
, is faded and worn, revealing pathways where healers and people in need of healing have walked for decades.
These aging tiles are "a very powerful testament to the longevity of the hospital and the many people it has served," says James Gonia, program director for West Africa, Global Mission program unit
of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).
Those awaiting care sit in cool dark hallways or rest outdoors on the Phebe campus. Mothers hold their babies and caregivers comfort the elderly.
They have come to receive the excellent medical care for which Phebe is known. They are served by deeply dedicated doctors, nurses, chaplains and other staff members, many of whom have worked here for years.
Children under the age of 14 comprise the majority of Phebe's patients, with malaria, anemia, diarrheal diseases and respiratory tract infections leading the causes of visits.
Phebe has been meeting the medical needs of Liberian residents since its founding in 1921 by the American Lutheran Mission
. A new facility was built on the current site in 1965. The hospital continued to serve during the civil war from 1990 to 2004, despite being attacked and looted.
Today, after undergoing rehabilitation work, Phebe still provides acute medical and surgical care on an inpatient, outpatient and emergency basis, as both a mission hospital and a government designated referral hospital.
"The role that Phebe plays as a county hospital cannot be underestimated in terms of the population it serves," James says. "Its role in the community is absolutely vital."
The Lutheran Church in Liberia
(LCL), a member of the Lutheran World Federation
, has more than 71,000 members, over 385 congregations and 330 preaching points. It's well known for its commitment to health care; by opening Phebe in 1921, Lutherans were the first denomination to build a hospital in Liberia.
The ELCA Global Mission
program unit partners with the LCL to support its health care ministries through mission personnel and financial resources. Through its companion relationship with the LCL, the ELCA Upper Susquehanna Synod has been a stalwart supporter for many years.