What started as a clinic quickly grew into a full service Hospital. Today, the Glenn C. Olson Memorial Primary General Hospital is a state of the art, medical facility that treats on average 11,000 patients a year. The hospital has fifty-two beds with the following specialties services: Pediatrics, Internal Medical, Surgical and OB GYN, Radiology, and Pharmacy. The busiest part of the hospital is the Outpatient Clinic.
Ethiopia has a high infant and maternal mortality rate. A majority of Ethiopia’s babies are born outside of an institutional setting. The Lie-In-Wait Home services high risk, expectant mothers in the later part of their pregnancy. The home is situated close to the hospital, and the women are able to get regular checkups from the doctors and nurses.
Not Giving Birth in Huts Anymore
Bilcha Temesgen is a mother of two, soon to be three, children. Unlike many of our mothers she has had all of her births in the hospital. Her first child is a son, sixteen years old. Within the next ten years she had four pregnancies and births and all of these babies died within the first two weeks of their lives. Her daughter, Amriya, is six years old. Before her birth, Bilcha stayed at the Lie-In-Wait Home. She had an uncomplicated birth and took Amriya home. Bilcha is now pregnant and should give birth any day now. She has been at the Lie-In-Wait home for three weeks.
She says part of the reason why she is staying at the Lie-In-Wait Home is because the road to their home is impassable by the ambulance. It takes about five hours to walk from their home to the hospital. She also says that the benefits of staying at the home are a decreased workload and better food. At home she is expected to carry twenty-five liter jerry cans of water, as well as do all of the regular housework, cooking and help with farming, when needed. They eat mainly kocho, from the ensete or false banana tree and corn. At the Home she and her daughter walk to and from the hospital with small jerry cans for water and for their meals. They are served Atmit for breakfast, injera (bread) and lentil stew, cabbage and pasta for lunch and dinner.
Not Alone: Caring for High Risk Pregnancies
It is a rainy day here in Butajira as you wait for Shobeza to return from fetching her son from school. They arrive in a bajaj and enter the suk (store) where she works. Elias, her son, is four years old and enters the suk with all the energy of any other 4-year-old. He greets you and proceeds to jump on the large sacks of grain that were waiting to be measured out.
Elias is in Kindergarten and tells you he is learning his ABC’s and the names of different types of transportation. He also calls his mom Shobeza, not mom. When you ask about this, Shobeza just shrugs and smiles at him. She seems to be a happy, content and proud mom of this cheeky little boy!
Shobeza had five other pregnancies before Elias, all of them made it to about thirty-seven weeks and all of them were stillborn. When she was pregnant for the sixth time, Shobeza was told by Sister Meseret at church about a new option at the “Mercy” hospital, as it is known in the area. She told her they had just built a home for mothers with difficult pregnancies, called the Lie-In-Wait home. This Home is just a short walk to and from the hospital, with a midwife in charge of care and a phone number to call for the ambulance if anything happens after hours. Shobeza was the first mother to stay at the Lie-In-Wait Home and she stayed for a month prior to delivery.
Elias was in a poor presentation in the womb for a regular vaginal delivery, so a C-section was scheduled and performed with no complications. The hospital staff helped her pick out the boy’s name. Elias is the same as the name Elijah, which means “God is Yahweh”.
Not Your Average Emergency Department
Jennifer Gregas Nurse Practitioner came as a healthcare volunteer. She greeted the staff in Amharic and they immediately thought she was fluent. She had to correct them and as her Amharic vocabulary was limited. Jennifer then met the famous Doctor N. Serving in the Outpatient Clinic Department with Doctor N, a Project Mercy Physician, was a dream come true for her. In three–and-half hours, Jennifer treated over thirty patients with cases ranging from a urinary tract infection to hypertension, to a follow up visit of a breech baby and everything else in between.
The Outpatient Clinic makes a difference on a daily basis.