By: Nick Johnston
Today was our first up-close look at the JFK Medical Center (JFKMC). We received a tour of the facilities from two of the head administrators (Mona and Dr. McDonald). Both Mona and Dr. McDonald continued to be gracious and welcoming – something that our group has experienced throughout our brief stay in Liberia. After such a great welcoming from our hosts, I found a new appreciation for our project – instead of simply thinking about the project in terms of producing a deliverable, I began wanting to make a positive impact with real results. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know our hosts and everyone in our group on a more personal level.
Getting back to the day’s events, Mona guided us through the maternity clinic and Dr. McDonald through the JFKMC. Although the maternity clinic (separate building from the JFKMC) appears to be in good condition, the impact of the civil conflict on the actual JFKMC cannot be understated. The outside of the building is covered in some unknown dirty substance, many of the wires inside the building are exposed, the air-conditioning comes from in-window units, and the lighting is dull at best. Having worked in a brand new surgery center in the States awarded for its design and energy efficiency, I feel like the JFKMC is in stark contrast to what I experienced at the surgery center. I don’t mean to sound overly depressing, but the state of affairs is undeniable. The JFKMC serves as yet another tangible example of how much impact the conflict had on the infrastructure of Liberia. I can’t imagine what damage such a conflict can inflict on one’s morale or outlook on life.
Despite the current state of the building, the hospital staff seems positive and motivated to improve the quality of healthcare they provide. I know that our group greatly appreciates the time and effort that the staff has dedicated to us. As for our group, I think that seeing the JFKMC in person has adjusted our approach moving forward. I think that we have a new concept of realistic expectations and a more appropriate strategy for implementation.
After our brief experience in the country, it is not difficult to imagine how beautiful the area used to be prior to the war. After getting involved with these people, and listening to others talk about the transformation of the country over the past few years, I am optimistic about our project and about the future of the country. I’m looking forward to starting the consulting tomorrow and learning more about the hospital.