NEWS FROM LACOR HOSPITAL – SPRING 2018
Spring is the season in which we most often celebrate the women in our lives. Whether on International Women’s Day in March or on Mother’s Day in May, we celebrate the remarkable mothers, daughters, aunties, sisters, and friends who have impacted our lives. One of the founders of the Teasdale-Corti Foundation was an extraordinary woman, Dr. Lucille Teasdale.
When Lucille was studying to become a physician in the 1950’s, only a handful of women in North America were studying medicine. It was a man’s world. The only women in medicine were nurses, and those who did get their degrees, usually became pediatricians. Lucille, however, was intent on becoming a children’s surgeon. She was repeatedly discouraged by naysayers who warned her that no parent would trust a female surgeon–they were considered second-rate. Undaunted, she pursued her studies and eventually she and her husband founded Lacor Hospital in Northern Uganda. Today, her daughter Dr. Dominique Corti is continuing their work.
We decided to dedicate this spring newsletter to the many women who have helped make Lacor one of the most successful and appreciated non-profit hospitals in Equatorial Africa.
In this issue you will learn about Lacor Hospital and its distinct characteristics as a quality medical care provider with a predominantly female staff. You will also have the chance to hear the story of Pamella, doctor in training, and her commitment to practicing medicine at Lacor .
Finally, you will read an interview of Ms. Suzanne Brault, the winner of Marina Orsini’s Mothers and Children contest.
We wish everyone a wonderful spring and thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your continued support.
The Teasdale-Corti Foundation Team
One of the most common questions we receive at the Teasdale-Corti Foundation is, “What is the Lacor Hospital in Uganda like?” While Lacor Hospital does have some similarities with Canadian hospitals in that doctors and nurses at Lacor care for patients to the best of their abilities and with available resources, Lacor also has unique characteristics based on its particular location and context. Read on to learn more about the Lacor Hospital facilities, population served and community impact.
The Lacor Hospital Complex includes the main Hospital in Gulu and three health centres. The distance of the health centres from the Hospital is between 30 and 40km. The catchment area of the Hospital includes the Districts of Gulu, Amuru and Omoro, meaning Lacor serves a total population of 634,249. The Hospital receives referrals from the whole of Northern Uganda, covering a population of 3.9 million people, as well as some referrals from beyond, including South Sudan. It is the only hospital in Northern Uganda able to offer a fully equipped intensive care unit.
The main Hospital at Lacor is a 482-bed Hospital with five main departments (pediatrics, medicine, obstetrics and gynaecology, surgery, and public health). Within the departments, there are a host of specific units (e.g. intensive care, burns, isolation, neonatal, lymphoma, dental and dental surgery) and of specialist clinics (e.g. AIDS, TB, surgical, obstetrics and gynaecology, sickle cell). The Hospital has six fully functional operating theatres, as well as a Radiology department equipped with X-Rays and Ultrasound machines, and a Laboratory Department that includes fully functional Histopathology, TB Molecular Diagnosis, Microbiology, and CD4 laboratories.
The total Hospital attendance in 2016-2017 was 269,873 patient contacts. Of these, there were 50,299 admissions and 219,574 outpatients. The Hospital has several schools for health workers (nurses, midwives, laboratory technicians, anaesthetists, and theatre assistants). It is also a teaching site for medical students of Gulu University and a recognised training site for the internship of doctors, pharmacists, and nurses.
The Hospital operates under the policies of the Ministry of Health of Uganda, and cooperates with the National Health System under the principle of complementarity.
The Hospital also seeks a positive and constructive relationship with the local community. It organizes a yearly workshop open to the public and attended by community members, village and local leaders, as well as representatives from local institutions and other relevant stakeholders, including donors, in order to exchange ideas and address challenges and important issues.
Pamella was 26 years old when she decided to go back to school to get a medical degree. The fifth daughter of a large family from Northern Uganda, she graduated from the Sacred Heart school of Gulu and then worked for two years as a clinical officer in a refugee camp managing a mobile clinic of the Medair humanitarian organization in Pader district, Northern Uganda.
“Actually, as a child I wanted to become a nurse,” she says: “I was convinced that the nurses were the most fantastic people in the world. But my father urged me to enroll in the school to become a clinical officer. “ The strongest motivation, however, came from her experience in a refugee camp. “After seeing so many sick children and realizing that I was not able to help them as I should, I decided to go back to school and was accepted into the medical school at the University of Gulu. I was beside myself with joy, though worried about how I would support myself. When, in the third year, I was about to leave the University to look for funds, the president gave scholarships to the girls from Northern Uganda who were enrolled in medicine or engineering. I was also helped by an aunt who teaches in Great Britain. “
Today, Pamella is 36 years old and has two adorable little girls. Every day around 6:30 am she prepares the eldest for school and at 8:30 she is in the ward to discuss the cases of the day. She cares for patients until five or six o’clock in the evening, often accompanied by medical students from the University of Gulu. Upon her return home, she prepares dinner with the girls, helps her eldest daughter with homework, and puts them to bed at nine o’clock. At this point, if she is not too tired, she still reads some clinical cases.
“I have always wanted to become a pediatrician and Lacor is helping me realize my dream (with a grant from the Corti Foundation). To see the relief on a mother’s face when her son improves, or that of a child who can smile again, is a priceless satisfaction. I hope to become a pediatrician and specialize in hematology. We see many children with blood diseases; I would be of great help to Lacor, I think, after finishing my studies. I want to continue serving my community.”
After finishing her training, Pamella could join the ranks of Lacor’s 600 Ugandan staff, 400 of which are women. Six out of 30 women are medical officers or specialists and of the 174 qualified nurses at Lacor, 150 are women. In short, Lacor Hospital hires a lot of women!
The Teasdale-Corti Foundation launched a special contest last December where all the donors that filled out the contest form online had a chance to win a supper with Marina Orsini and invite 20 guests of their choice at Il Bazzali restaurant located in little Italy.
Our contest winner, Suzanne Brault, on the right side of Marina, and her guests joined Davide Bazzali, the singing chef and Marina for what was a night to remember. All funds raised were used to treat Mothers and Children at Lacor Hospital.
What motivated you to participate in the Teasdale-Corti Foundation’s Mothers and Children Campaign?
I read an interview in the winter edition of Virage magazine on Marina Orsini. She took the opportunity to explain why it was important to contribute to the Teasdale-Corti Foundation. « We have a responsibility as a human being to take care of our neighbor, even if our neighbor is on another continent. » A small donation could make a big difference.
How did you choose your guests for the festive meal?
The people I chose to be with me for the most part have been involved in volunteering with our local community for many years. They are people who do for others with an altruistic state of mind. I am very grateful for having them in my life.
Did the festive meal of January 31, 2017 with Marina Orsini and Davide Bazzali please you?
It was an amazing evening with Marina Orsini and Chef and Tenor Davide Bazzali. This Chef can cook, sing, interact with his guests with humour, and to top it all, he is also very handsome! Marina Orsini is a woman of heart. She took her time to answer each question asked about her career, her family life, and her personal life. She is authentic, charming, warm, and very friendly. The Teasdale-Corti Foundation has a truly great spokesperson.