Keeping the people healthy
By RONALD TOITO’ONA
If it wasn’t for the Nila Catholic Station mini-hospital, people in the Shortland Islands will have to travel to Choiseul or Gizo for medical attention.
Others will not be able to survive if the mini-hospital is not providing the needed services in the furthest island of the Western Province.
“After going through a full upgrade following years of providing health services at Nila, the once-upon a time clinic today is now providing health care for around 5,000 people,” Nurse in-charge Sister Christopher Kongasa said.
Sister Kongasa is from Choiseul province, but moved to the Catholic Station in 2003 to work at the Clinic.
“I graduated with a Diploma in Nursing Studies at the Solomon Islands College of Higher Education (SICHE) now the country’s National University in 1998,” she said in recollection.
Before she was posted to Nila, she worked as a nurse-aid at Gizo Hospital from 2000-2003.
“The Nila mini-hospital was officially opened in 2015, after being completed from funding provided by Friends of Italy,” Sister Kongasa, who is now 58 years old, said.
Sister Kongasa said that the mini hospital is experiencing an increase in the number of patients coming in for medical checks daily.
She said that a record of 60 patients seeking medical attention in a single day is the highest on record so far.
The contributing factor to the increase is the closing down of a few clinics around the Shortland Islands where patients have no option but to travel to Nila mini hospital for attention.
According to the Nurse in-charge, the clinics in highly populated villages such as Kariki, Harapa and Maleai were closed, so people in these villages are now heading to Nila for medical assistance.
In meeting the needs of the over 5,000 people, the hospital has four registered Nurses, one nurse-aid, two pharmacists, and a microscopist.
All of them are locals mostly from the Shortland Islands and were paid under the government’s payroll.
The mini-hospital has three wards namely male’s, female’s, and children’s wards.
It also accommodated a labour ward, a minor theatre, a pharmacy and an emergency room.
It also provides general out-patient services that clinics in Honiara are providing to the city’s residents.
The Nurse in-charge told the Sunday Star that emergency cases can be attended to at the hospital.
The hospital is taking in patients from all over the Shortland, especially within the inner precinct of Island.
“For referrals, we have to send our patients to Taro or to Gizo hospitals in the Choiseul and Western Provinces respectively,” Sister Kongasa said with verve.
In terms of the number of births, the hospital delivers around one per month with the highest on record of five.
Sister Kongasa said that medicines are supplied by the government and patients are admitted free of charge with health care offered likewise.
However, the Sister said that patients need to support themselves with meals.
She said that the most common cases that people seek medical attention for Nila is pneumonia.
However, she happily announced that malaria cases in Shortland are dropping.
“It is not like what they used to be some years ago,” the Sister added.
The hospital also has visitation programs to the remote villages of the Shortland Islands.
However, in situations where fuel is insufficient, Sister Kongasa said that they have to cancel their scheduled visits.
They will have to consider the weather as well, when planning to go on visitation rounds.
The provision of fuel is under the government’s jurisdiction through the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS), and Gizo hospital.
The Sister said that the mini-hospital is entitled to receive fuel on quarterly bases from the national government.
“For this year, we have not been able to visit remote communities as we still await our share of the fuel,” the nurse in-charge told Star National Magazine.
Unlike other provincial health facilities, Nila mini-hospital is not having water and sanitation problems.
Sister Kongasa said that they have access to clean piped water from an old Japanese water supply system.
“Staff housing is one of the biggest issues that I and my six staff are currently facing,” she stressed.
“There are only three staff houses available and this implies that some have to be accommodated elsewhere,” she said.
Hence, three of the staff are residing in their villages and normally travel to and from work by boat or outrigger canoe.
The staff housing issue has impacted my staff’s performance and therefore it is good for accommodation to be provided within the hospital vicinity.
“We need to build more staff houses here but funding is another problem for us,” Sister Kongasa added.
A staff house was contracted to a builder which he failed to complete as a result misused of funds,” Sister Kongasa said.
Due to the incompletion of the building, the community was rallied to raise funds to help complete the staff house.
One of her staff is now residing at the residence which is located just behind the hospital.
When the Star National Magazine asked her about external assistance, Sister Kongasa said that they have received support from the Member of Parliament (MP) for Shortland Islands in a form of cash money.
The hospital also received two wheel-chairs from the MP – an assistance that the hospital, and patients are very much indebted for.
However, they are appealing to the MP and other donors to assist them with staff housing as this is the most pressing issue.
The mini-hospital provides general services and opens Mondays to Fridays and on-call basis on Saturdays.