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President Weah, Please Answer Phebe Hospital’s SOS Call and Save Our Rural People

first_imgWe consider this Editorial a very serious one, because it is intended to make a direct and urgent appeal to President George Weah to come to Phebe Hospital’s rescue, in the same way President William R. Tolbert saved this hospital in 1973.What is at stake is yet another very serious crisis at one of the nation’s leading medical and health institutions—Phebe Hospital in Suacoco, Bong County.  Why is Phebe so  critical?  Because it serves millions of rural Liberians; and also travelers through Liberia’s vast interior that may fall sick en route or become victims of terrible accidents along the highways leading through Bong County, on to Lofa, Nimba, Grand Gedeh and beyond.Why do we say that history is about to repeat itself?  Because the crisis at Phebe today is identical to that which befell Phebe in 1973, just after Dr. Walter Gwenigale returned home from his highly successful medical studies in Puerto Rico and Los Angeles, California, United States of America.The alarming story from our Bong County Correspondent Marcus Malayea, published on the back page of yesterday’s Daily Observer, told us that Phebe is probably the nation’s oldest hospital—97 years.  It was started by American Lutherans in Harrisburg, Montserrado County around 1921 when they opened their first Liberian mission in this part of Montserrado County, on the Right Bank of the St. Paul River.  Attached to the hospital was a School of Nursing.  There in Harrisburg the Lutherans also planted the E.V. Day Girls School.  The Lutherans put their male students school across the river in Millsburg, and called it the Muelenberg Boys School.Nearly a half century later the Lutherans, in collaboration with the Episcopal and Methodist Churches, relocated Phebe to Suacoco, in the then Central Province which in 1964 became Bong County.  It was an ultra-modern medical facility in the heart of rural Liberia, equipped with a modern operating room and X-ray department, electricity and running water.  A little later, Phebe joined with Cuttington College and Divinity School (now Cuttington University) to open the nation’s first degree-granting School of Nursing.But immediately upon Dr. Gwenigale’s return from his medical studies, the Lutheran missionaries at Phebe told him they were closing Phebe and turning it into a health center.  They said there was no money to continue running the hospital, because American Lutherans were now focusing on saving “the heathen at home, rather than the heathen abroad.”Dr. Gwenigale, who had returned with his Puerto Rican wife Carmen, a well-trained radiologist and their year-old  first son, Walter, Jr., did not panic at this alarming revelation.  The doctor, also a surgeon, made a fast move.  He drove to Monrovia one morning and found his Cuttington classmate, now a journalist, at the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism and told him the terrible news about Phebe.  Walter Gwenigale, along with his Lutheran Training Institute classmate Wilton Sankawulo, had graduated in 1959, just as Kenneth Y. Best had graduated from the Booker Washington Institute that same year and the three of them, among many others from all over Liberia, met at Cuttington as freshmen in February 1960.  In mid-1961 the Lutherans sent Walter to Puerto Rico for medical studies.  He presented to his classmate the crisis he faced immediately on his return—Phebe, the hospital he had returned home well prepared to serve, was closing down.“So what do you want me to do?” asked  KYB.“I want you to write about it to see if we can stop Phebe from closing.”That same weekend Mr. Best traveled to Phebe in Suacoco, interviewed the Lutherans in charge of Phebe, who confirmed the imminent closure, met the Hospital Board that was meeting that Saturday morning, then toured the entire facility, including all the infrastructure. The result was two major stories the following week—on Tuesday and Thursday, published in the Liberian Star, a daily, and the bi-weekly Liberian Age. On seeing the stories, President William R. Tolbert summoned his Health Minister, Counselor Oliver Bright, who confirmed to him Phebe’s imminent closure, because the Lutherans said they had no more money to keep the hospital open. “How much does it cost to run Phebe annually,” President Tolbert enquired.“US$400,000, Mr. President, according to Mr. Best,” Minister Bright replied.President Tolbert immediately dictated a letter to his younger brother, Finance Minister Steve Tolbert, directing him to provide US$400,000 annually to keep Phebe Hospital open.Dr. Gwenigale took over Phebe immediately and ran it successfully for over 30 years, even through the war years.  It was this enviable legacy that led President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to appoint him her Health Minister for most of her tenure.We appeal to President George Weah to repeat history by doing for Phebe what President Tolbert did for this critical medical institution on which millions of our rural people as well as travelers up country depend for their health, medical and even emergency needs.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more


first_imgNaomh Columba 16.05.2011Comhghairdeas le foireann peile Scoil Náisiúnta na Carraige a bhain cluiche cheannais Cumann na mBunscoil maidin Dé Sathairn. Tá achan duine iontach bródúil asaibh agus an éacht mór atá déanta agaibh.Many congratulations to SN na Carraige, who took home the Cumann na mBunscoil title on Saturday last, after overcoming Drumkeen in Burt. Fair play to all involved in their historic victory.Our ladies will start their championship campaign this Sunday, with an away fixture to Ard a Rátha. Throw in at 12 noon. Cúrsaí faoi-aois: Our u14 girls travelled to Towney on Tuesday evening, and enjoyed a comprehensive victory over Cill Chartha.Our u14 lads enjoyed a good league victory in Ballintra on Wednesday evening last. At the time of going to press they were due to continue their league campaign with a game v Kilcar in Páirc na nGael on Wednesday evening.The under 16 county divisional semi-final vs Glenfin, which had been scheduled for Monday evening was postponed due to inclement weather. It has been rescheduled for Thursday evening in Dunkineely.Throw-in at 6.30pm. Bus leaving Glen at 5pm, Carrick at 5.15pm. Our under 12 team are due to travel to Towney on Monday next, May 23rd. Many thanks to everyone who supported the minor board’s recent Guess the Score competition, and well done to Martin Boyle, Killybegs, who guessed the score correctly, and won €100.The Healthy Hearts, Healthy Lives mobile screening unit will be at Páirc na nGael this Saturday. Any last minute bookings can be directed to Christina on 086 0781837 / Caitríona on 086 1970127.Well done to Jim Mc Guinness and the county team on their win on Sunday. Níor bhaineadh lotto na seachtaine seo caite, uimhreacha 3-5-16-22. Duaiseanna Aitheantais: €50 Paddy Mc Brearty, An Charraig, €30 Anna Mc Brearty, Mín an Aoire, €20 Anna Ní Chasaide,Teileann, €20 James J. Boyle, An Baile Ard, €20 Maire Ó Beirn, Málainn Bheag. Lotto na seachtaine seo chugainn – 17/5/2011 – €3200.GAA: NAOMH COLUMBA NOTES, GLENCOLMCILLE was last modified: May 18th, 2011 by gregShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:glencolmcille gaa noteslast_img read more