News From Lacor Hospital 2015
It is a pleasure to give you some news of Lacor Hospital in the September newsletter.
Lacor has experienced a multitude of difficulties: wars, HIV, Ebola … But we are happy to see the stability that the region has enjoyed over the last eight years.
The return of peace in northern Uganda has had a positive impact on the health of the population. But stability has also led to an epidemiological transition towards more complex diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, neglected surgical conditions like goitre, hernias, malunited fractures, complications of HIV / AIDS and heart disease. Also, admissions to maternity and complicated obstetric cases are on the rise as more women give birth in hospital.
With the end of the war, government health centers reopened, which slightly lowered admissions to our outpatient clinic and hospital. Improving food security also decreased cases of malnutrition, with only a few children hospitalized. The hospital has decided to close the malnutrition ward to enlarge obstetrics and gynecology.
“…admissions to maternity and complicated obstetric cases are on the rise…”
We have also opened special clinics for diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, sickle cell anemia, and palliative care.
Lacor Hospital has adapted well to these new realities. However, a major challenge is to continue our mission to provide quality health care at an affordable cost, despite the increase in costs related to the provision of medical services and epidemiological transition to more complex and costly diseases.
In this newsletter we share with you some of our employees’ touching memories about Lacor. On page 3 you will find an interview with Dr. Ochola about his trip to Montreal. On the last page we discuss the hospital’s annual workshop, held in June at Lacor.
Dr. Martin Ogwang
Institutional Director of Lacor Hospital
Dr. Emintone Odong
Gynecologist and Medical Director
“At the time of Ebola, it was so stressful. I examined a patient who the next day developed Ebola. And I remember touching her, being very close to her. I felt threatened actually, thinking that I may develop Ebola. Luckily enough, I had used protection and I had washed my hands. But I was forced to somehow isolate myself from my family; I would not hug, I would not greet them. I would change when I went home. So it was a stressful time. But after 21 days, I was relieved that I didn’t contract Ebola.”
Santo Uma, Electrical Engineer
Manager of Technical Department
“One of the memories I have from the hospital is as a patient, when I was a child. I used to have stomach problems, so I would come to the hospital regularly for check-ups with Dr. Lucille. One time, I came one day late for a control visit, because the train had been delayed, and when Dr. Lucille looked at my medical form and realized I was one day late, she got very angry at me and rebuked me, asking why I was not very serious about my health. I became very sad that she was talking to me like that because I was young, so then she tried to comfort me and gave me a candy.”
Matron Milly Among
“During the time of the war, what I remember very well is one evening, when I was coming out of the surgery theater, one of the nurses with whom I was working was abducted by the rebels. She was thrown off the wall of the hospital. The other staff who remained, we were protected by the hospital. We were taken to sleep at the Comboni Sisters’ house for protection. I was very scared.”
Matron Angioletta Anyai
“Something I can remember very well is that, a long time ago, I was a nurse in the labour ward and a mother in labour was bleeding heavily and I had to call Dr. Lucille. As I put the receiver down, immediately she appeared. And what touched me so much is that I thought the mother and the baby would die. But we rushed the patient to the surgery room and did the operation at such an incredible speed that we were able to save both the mother and the baby. This has deeply touched me.”
Interview with Dr. Ochola
Dr. Emmanuel Ochola, a Clinical Epidemiologist and Biostatistician at Lacor, heads Lacor’s Department of HIV, Research and Documentation and the Department of Public Health. Dr. Ochola visited Montreal in July. We were very happy to welcome him to Lucille’s hometown!
Dr. Ochola, you have traveled to the USA and Europe, but this is your first time in Canada. What was your first impression of Montreal?
My very first impression was aerial: from the plane I thought Montreal looked organized and structured. I was also impressed by the trees; there is quite a lot of vegetation in the city.
Montreal is visibly multi-cultural; I heard many different languages and it made me feel like I fit in quite easily here.
What brings you to Montreal?
I was invited to present at the ORAHS 2015 conference, which brings together experts on operational research applied to health services, held at HEC Montreal. I shared the African perspective of the needs for operational research in hospitals. I described Lacor’s experience with care provision as well as research in HIV, malaria, tuberculosis (TB), and challenges and opportunities for research.
We were invited to this conference because of a Lacor study on improving the process of care for patients with TB. This study is done in collaboration with Prof. Soriano from HEC Montreal and his team, and is funded by the International Development Research Center, which I also visited in Ottawa and met with the different people working with Lacor.
How is the research going? Is it useful for Lacor? And how did the conference go?
The research is going well and is useful for Lacor. We have identified key gaps or challenges with the TB process (and beyond) and we have been able to identify possible solutions. These still need validation, but we are on the right track! We hope to continue this research and apply its methodology of operational research in many other processes at Lacor.
The conference went very well. I was exposed to many scientists and institutions doing work relevant to what we do at Lacor. After my presentation a number of experts showed interest in collaborating with us. This conference also gave me exposure to knowledge and procedures, helping me identify areas for further research at Lacor.
Did you learn some words in French?
I knew some words already, but here I learned “ouain” (a different way of saying yes); I also learned the proper French way of saying “Montreal,” which has a particular pronunciation, and I’m still struggling to pronounce “HEC.” But one day soon, I hope to learn fluent French!
Dr. Ochola, it was a great pleasure to have you with us, the Teasdale-Corti Foundation team; we hope that you enjoyed your stay and that you will come back soon!
Thank you and thanks to the readers for their support. I was happy to visit Dr. Lucille’s city of Canadian supporters. Your support is important; it supports real lives. We ask you to continue to collaborate with us.
On Saturday, June 27th, Lacor held its annual workshop, a day for the hospital’s stakeholders to meet with staff, visitors, community leaders, and clergy to discuss Lacor’s yearly activities, the progress of the Strategic Plan and other important issues.
This year, over 300 people attended the workshop, whose theme was Innovating Approaches to Financial Sustainability and Continuous Quality Improvements. The “Become Part of the Story” campaign was officially launched in Uganda on that day.
The workshop started with a prayer, a choral, and some opening speeches. Then, the three directors gave some fascinating speeches. Executive Director Dr. Cyprian Opira spoke about the hospital’s budget (where the money came from and how it was spent); about the importance of creating wealth to fight disease through innovation; and about the current difficulty of finding funds to treat AIDS, TB, and malaria.
Medical Director Dr. Emintone Odong spoke about the new epidemiological trends at Lacor (for example, malaria has been on the rise again since January 2015); the improvement and innovations at Lacor’s training schools; news about staffing (Lacor now employs a maxilo-facial surgeon – the only one in the region). He also explained that Lacor is increasingly becoming a referral hospital in the region, with many more patients sent to Lacor for care.
Institutional Director Dr. Martin Ogwang addressed Lacor’s challenges and needs, reviewing the third year of the Strategic Plan (2012-2017) and its six strategic objectives.
The hospital’s annual workshops are always very stimulating, and this year the public’s excitement was palpable during the panel of leaders, which followed the “Become Part of the Story” presentation. The presentation began with a video of very short segments of Lacor’s long-term staff, explaining the reasons they were “part of the story” and why Lacor was so important to them.
The workshop concluded with final remarks from Dominique Corti, political leaders, and the Archbishop of Gulu. Finally, after all the discussion of past challenges and progress, as well as talk about future goals, the day ended with traditional dancing and delicious food.