Mbingo Baptist Hospital has grown incredibly over the years. It started as a small leprosy hospital over 50 years ago with only a dirt road to access it. Over the years, the services expanded. Once the road was paved from Bamenda, people could more easily come to the hospital and the number of patients grew quickly. Then, over the past 7 years, a surgical residency program (PAACS) and a medicine/pediatric residency program (CIMS) were started. The hospital is now close to 300 beds.
This picture is from 1957. There was one building for the hospital and a few houses for the staff. There were also some houses for the long-term care of leprosy patients. But mostly there was a lot of open land.
This is what the hospital looks like today. What a change. The hospital now functions as a referral center for many poor patients from all across Cameroon. In addition, it is a teaching site for many doctors and nurse practitioners that will go out from here to work all over Cameroon and even across Africa. God is clearly working here and it is neat to be a part of it.
This is the homemade map that greets patients and families when they arrive to Mbingo. It is a rough sketch of all the hospital buildings that we have here. It is not the most intuitive, so we have plenty of people wandering around that we have help guide to the right place. It does give you an idea of the growth from one building in the early days to what the hospital is today.
The growth has continued over the two years that we have been here. This is the new TB ward that was completed a few months ago. It allows us to properly separate our TB patients and those we are concerned may have TB from our other patients on the wards. As with many of the building projects, much of the money to build this was from outside donors. Mbingo Baptist Hospital and the Cameroonian Baptist Convention are always very grateful for the generous donations they receive to improve the facilities and care of the patients.
Another project that was recently started is a hostel. We are desperately short on housing and we have many instances where Cameroonians travel to Mbingo for a conference or teaching course that can last days to weeks to months. Currently, there is no good housing options for these short-term visitors or even for the nurse practitioner students. We are always scrambling to find a place for the nurse practitioners to stay that is not too far away for the year they are in training here. The hostel will provide over 20 single rooms (like a dormitory) to greatly improve our ability to house people here at Mbingo. This is another instance of multiple generous donations coming together to improve our facilities.
For years this building above has been unfinished. We use the first level for our internal medicine, pediatric, ENT, OB/GYN, HIV/TB, and chemotherapy clinics. This second floor was started a few months ago and will house the new surgical clinic. Currently, the surgeons have to use a single room that is divided into three sections by cloth dividers to see all of their patients (often over 100 in a day). Many of them have to undress in that setting or even have minor procedures done (suturing, etc.). This clinic will provide the space the surgeons need to properly evaluate and treat their patients.
A big project that has been underway for about a year now is the surgical ICU. This picture shows the almost finished main room of the ICU. There will be beds along the walls with the central nursing station. Currently we have no true ICU care here because we have no ICU facilities. This certainly impacts the level of care we are able to provide. The surgeons are limited in what surgeries they can undertake by the lack of post-operative ICU care. We expect this ICU will start to change that. There will also be space for pediatric patients and some medicine patients when needed. There will be ventilators and proper monitoring. This is no easy project as bringing this level of care to our setting requires new equipment, new expectations, and a need for a new level of training of nurses.
This is Keith Streatfeild with Ben at our Thanksgiving gathering. Keith is a missionary anesthesiologist from Australia. He and his wife, Kaye, are dear friends of ours here. Keith has been busy training nurse anesthetists since he arrived over 2 years ago. He is now in charge of training nurses to deliver intensive care in the new ICU mentioned above. The impact that he has had here is clearly felt and will continue to be felt for years to come both here at Mbingo and across Cameroon.
We recently heard about this thing called "Dinovember". Basically, each night of this month Isaac's plastic dinosaurs do some activity and he sees it in the morning. This picture shows them reading books. They have also colored pictures, built with legos, played musical instruments, folded clothes, and built a train. He loves it.
Ben is doing great as well. Here he is hanging out in the grass on a warm December day. We have been hearing about the cold weather back in the US. There are some advantages to living in Africa! However, we do miss our loved ones a lot during the holiday season. We are thankful for the family and friends that God has provided here.