Democratic Republic of Congo
Bolenge Hospital, located in the city of Bolenge, in the Equatorial Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), was built in 1928 by the Community of Disciples of Christ in the Congo (CDCC), a partner church with Global Ministries for over 100 years. In a typical year Bolenge Hospital treats over 16,000 patients; over 50 percent for HIV/AIDS- related illnesses. Much work is also done at Bolenge Hospital to provide early childhood vaccinations, prenatal visits, and obstetrical care as well as treatment of chronic and punctual illness and disease.
Bolenge Hospital has been plagued by the residual effects of the ongoing conflict, the country as a whole continues to be unstable. This has obliged Bolenge Hospital to increase its patients’ load while not being able to cope with increased demand for pharmaceutical supplies and community health care.
On June 13, 2006, the Bolenge Hospital experienced an electrical fire, which completely destroyed the hospital’s newer main building and equipment. Community members worked hard to save the people inside the building before it was completely engulfed by flames and no human lives were lost. The patients were brought to the homes of doctors, pastors, and others in the community, and some were relocated to nearby Mbandaka. Since then, the hospital has been operating out of an old building with 18 doctors and nurses having returned to work. This older building is not equipped to handle Bolenge’s wide range of health needs, and a proposal to reconstruct the burned hospital building and modernize the other buildings has been presented and is being implemented as resources become available.
A plan to rebuild Bolenge Hospital was soon agreed upon and is being implemented as resources become available. Approximately three years after the fire, the new pediatric ward building was completed, thanks in great part to the Robert and Abby Learned Family. This was a major triumph in the rebuilding of the hospital. By February of 2010, the pediatric ward was outfitted with equipment, beds, and medical instruments and the new ward was dedicated.
In August 2012 Reverend Sandra Gourdet, Area Executive for Africa, visited Bolenge Hospital with a delegation of visitors for the Dedication of the Maternity Ward. The Maternity Ward will have 50 beds and is connected to the Pediactric Wing via a covered walkway. The building has been completed and funds have been allocated to begin to furnish the Maternity Ward. The Maternity Ward was made possible in great part thanks to the Gene and Sue Johnson Family and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of North Carolina.
Along with the dedication of the Maternity Ward, ground was broken for the third phase of the rebuilding process – the Surgery Wing, dedicated to the memory of Topper Franke. Construction began shortly after the groundbreaking and work continues in order to complete this phase of the project.
Update: May 2013
Read a donor story supporting the work of the Bolenge Hospital.The erection of the walls of building three at Bolenge Hospital will end shortly. The next step will be the roof.
Update: March 2016
Global Ministries is delighted to share a report from the CDCC that the construction of the surgical wing at Bolenge Hospital is complete. This is the third wing of the new Bolenge Hospital facility. The pediatrics wing and the maternity wing were the first two wings to be constructed in the new facility. Bolenge Hospital is grateful for the global support, community, and presence through the completed construction of these three wings.
As the surgical wing is now in use for operations, Bolenge Hospital is constructing a fourth wing, the post-operation and recovery wing. Currently, post-operation patients are recovering in a shared space with individuals entering the hospital, where it is difficult to contain diseases and reduce the spread of infections. The CDCC has already begun construction on this fourth wing, and is raising funds for the completion of the construction.
In addition, the CDCC has purchased an x-ray machine for Bolenge Hospital. However, due to the dangers of radiation exposure, Bolenge Hospital does not currently have a space to safely take x-ray images without putting other patients at risk. Bolenge has identified a space in an old, unused hospital building that would be appropriate for placing the x-ray machine for use. Prior to using the room and x-ray machine safely, the room is in need of repairs costing approximately $5,000. The CDCC is beginning the rehabilitation of this space to begin using the x-ray machine.
Update: February 2017
On January 23rd, the leadership of the Community of Disciples of Christ in Congo (CDCC) held a small ceremony to mark the conclusion of major construction for the recovery wing at Bolenge Hospital. Church officials, doctors, nurses, administrators, and staff sat under a canopy of palm branches to hear about the history of the hospital and the significance of reaching this important milestone. Before the ceremony, a rain storm blew into Mbandaka, a sign of blessing after weeks of dry weather. A formal dedication ceremony for the recovery wing will take place in May after it is fully furnished.
The completion of the recovery wing joins the pediatric, maternity, and surgical wings of the hospital completed after a devastating fire in 2011. The recovery wing is the latest addition in a multiphase master plan for the redevelopment of Bolenge Hospital, which is recognized by the government as a regional hospital. Rev. Eliki Bonanga, President of CDCC, credited the partnership with Global Ministries in making the recovery wing a reality. During his remarks, Dr. Bosolo shared that the completion of recovery wing improves the capacity of the hospital to provide quality care and services to the population in the province.
Bolenge Hospital is one of six hospitals affiliated with the CDCC in the Equator Province. In addition to the hospitals, there are 100 clinics operated by CDCC. This network of church-affiliated healthcare facilities ensures timely distribution of medicines and healthcare information to enhance public health.
After the ceremony, the approximately 80 attendees were invited inside for a tour. Once inside, guests were shown the large separate rooms where men and women will recover from surgery. The building also included offices, examination rooms, and waiting areas. The design of the recovery wing is similar to the other wings at the hospital, a square building with an atrium in the middle where natural sunlight can come through. Solar panels and a generator provide the necessary electrical power for lighting and running equipment.
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