Two years ago ELWA Hospital in Liberia was in the forefront of the battle against the Ebola epidemic. Last month the ribbon was cut on a new beginning.
Dr John Fankhauser looks out over the tropical, 130-acre ELWA (Eternal Love Winning All) campus in Monrovia, Liberia. On one side of the street the hospital’s Executive Director sees the past – the old ELWA Hospital that was erected by SIM in 1965 to meet the medical needs of the local people. Since the old hospital opened, nearly 2.7 million people have flowed through the facility, receiving quality care in a country with one of the worst patient-doctor ratios in the world. Through multiple civil wars and most recently the Ebola epidemic, ELWA Hospital has remained true to its vision to “…glorify God by ministering to the whole person – the spirit, the soul and the body…”
But after 51 years, the hospital facilities were tired and outdated. Fortunately, on the other side of the street lies the future of ELWA healthcare – a brand new 47,000 square-foot hospital facility. The $5 million, 87-bed hospital sits on 10 acres and represents a new era in modern medical care for Liberians, and was dedicated at a ceremony on October 22. It is now open to the public. Though administered and staffed by ELWA and SIM, funds for the new hospital and equipment were provided by Samaritan’s Purse.
“The ELWA premises became the place where people ran during the Ebola catastrophe,” the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, said in her remarks. “What can we say about this facility, one that transcends everything we’ve wanted? It is something that compares to every other country. It is a monument to long-standing friendship and to God’s love for Liberia. Though we have been subjected to calamity, we can rise up again to pursue the goal of the prosperity of our people. It gives us hope that Liberia is rising. It makes us proud.”
Medical Director Dr Jerry Brown also served as medical director throughout the Ebola crisis. He said, “Too long we have lost loved ones to curable diseases. Let us look beyond and be courageous to provide a better and resilient health system. This structure is not going to solve all the problems. We need specialists so we don’t have to send people outside Liberia to seek treatment. We should keep hope alive, this is just the beginning of many fulfilled dreams.”
“I hope that our gaze will look beyond the new buildings,”SIM Liberia’s Director, David Writebol, said. “To see God’s hand working through the great numbers of people who work daily in this place.”
Dr Fankhauser also served during the tumultuous Ebola epidemic that racked the country in recent years. He said, “We are a small hospital, but the role the hospital has played in times of crisis has made us widely known as a Christian hospital that’s gone above and beyond.”
“We also desire for our patients to have an encounter with Jesus Christ in a meaningful way while they’re here in the hospital.” said Joe Wankollie, who was the acting SIM Liberia Director during the Ebola epidemic and currently serves as the SIM Liberia Deputy Director. Chaplains pray regularly with patients if requested and the hospital holds daily devotions for staff and patients. All staff are also encouraged to incorporate faith into their medical care. Though the hospital charges for services, the ELWA Hospital Benevolence Fund assists patients who can’t pay for care.
ELWA Hospital is one example of what is possible through mission partnerships. SIM is fortunate to work with key international and domestic organizations in the country, including the Evangelical Church of Liberia (ECOL), which has more than 100 churches across the country. “We want to see these ministries grow and reach places where people are living and dying without hearing about Christ. ELWA campus is a great launch pad for these efforts and we want to keep that moving forward,” David Writebol said.
— John Stuart
To learn more about ELWA Ministries go here.