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Thumb up to St Mary’s Lacor for helping South Sudanese

By Mandela Nelson Denis

St Mary’s Lacor Hospital a few meters from the heart of Northern city of Gulu is one hospital that needs to be appreciated for helping South Sudanese via treatment.

From the Out Patient Department the way South Sudanese are handled will make you want to visit the hospital again and again.

Majority of the South Sudanese that go for treatment at Lacor Hospital are low income earners who don’t have much money for medical bills at expensive hospital within the country outside the country.

As some have money to fly to Kenya, India and Kampala, those without adequate financial support opt for Lacor Hospital which provide quality health services at affordable price.

Juba Monitor’s reporter Mandela Nelson Denis paid a courtesy visit and interacted with some South Sudanese who went to seek Health services at Lacor Hospital.

Lacor Hospital is just at the Road side on your way from Juba or South Sudan making it so simple for anyone to access.

Abalo Rose Lajang, a South Sudanese woman in her late forties travelled all the way from Bweyale Resettlement camp in Masindi to receive treatment at Lacor.

Rose arrived on Saturday morning from the Bus Park straight to Lacor Hospital and was lucky to find a handful of patients waiting at the Out Patient Department to be attended to.

At around 10:00am it was the turn for Abalo to be attended to, with her little English she opted to speak Acholi and was lucky that the woman who attended to her was also an Acholi.

Rose paid three thousand an equivalent of 300ssp for consultation fee because it was her second visit to the health center.

After paying the consultation fee, Rose was directed to see a Nurse where she explained all her pain and was transferred to see a doctor.

By mid-day due to the long lines, Rose managed to see a doctor and she was prescribed some medicines.

“I like the system, it is quick and the Nurses and doctors serve with Humanity, I was told I have problems with my lower abdomen and was told to come back after two months for review,” said Rose.

A nurse who identified herself as Lamaro Jacky revealed that there is large flow of South Sudanese to Lacor Hospital seeking treatment.

“We are all one people, at Lacor we love everyone and wish that we all have healthy lives, we treat people from all walks of lives and nationalities,” said Lamaro.

Kureng John brought his Eleven Year old sister who has problem with her breathing system to be attended to.

“My sister developed problem with her breathing system and we spent a lot of money in Clinics in Nimule treating her but when we came to Lacor it cost us only fifty thousand Ugandan shilling plus the drugs,” said Kureng.

Kureng explained that the only problem with Lacor Hospital is the accommodation issues and feeding but the rest are fine.

“Since most South Sudanese have no home in Gulu, we are forced to rent lodges and feed ourselves which at times is costly but with treatment all is fine,”Kureng.

Kureng also revealed that at the Ugandan Immigration side if you explain that you are coming for medical treatment and have medical forms, you are allowed to pass without paying the visa fees.

Kueth Simon brought his grandmother who had waist bone dislocation to Lacor Hospital and left a happy man after spending little to save his grandmother.

“My grandmother has been spending sleepless nights due to pain in her waist and when we came to Lacor, we followed all the procedures and were taken to the X-Ray department to see what the problem was, my grandmother told me that her waist was massaged and he revealed that she began feeling better,” said Kueth.

St Mary’s Lacor Hospital Gulu is a church founded Hospital whose vision is to provide quality and affordable health care as per their mission statement.

Lacor Hospital has majority specialist in most of the health complications and their services are quick.

The Hospital work both day and night and also do admission for sickness that needs monitoring by the doctors, patients pay fifty Thousand Ugandan shilling for all the days they are admitted at the facility.

South Sudanese from the Greater Eastern Equatoria are majority that visit Lacor Hospital plus also others from across the country.

From the writer’s observation, there were different nationalities such as Congolese, Rwandese, Ethiopians, Eritreans, Sudanese and Europeans receiving treatment at Lacor Hospital.

The atmosphere in Lacor hospital is special. It was set up by the Comboni missionaries in 1959, and became home to Canadian surgeon Lucille Teasdale and her Italian husband Piero Corti in 1961.

Together they worked tirelessly for the people of Gulu for almost 40 years.

Tragically Lucille died of AIDS contracted during surgery in 1996, and Piero died not long afterward suffering from pancreatic cancer.

One of the first ever Ugandan interns who trained at Lacor, Dr Matthew Lukwiya, like so many other staff members at Lacor risked his life to treat patients during the Ebola epidemic in 2000 and sadly succumbed to the hemorrhagic fever himself. These three heroes all chose to be buried at Lacor and we are reminded of them every time we walk through the front gates, greeted by a large mural of their smiling faces, lit up at night to remind us the door is always open for the sick and needy.

 

During the insurgence, Lacor became home to tens of thousands of night commuters, mainly women and children who wandered into the compound every night for shelter and safety from the Kony’s LRA rebels and government troops.

Within Gulu, Lacor hospital is a symbol of goodness, and any adults old enough to remember them speak fervently and reverently about its past heroes, grateful for the sacrifices made for their community.

The spirit of goodness and generosity continues today, not only among the Ugandan staff but with new heroes like Ray, who has spent 12 years developing the ICU and department of anaesthesia, saving thousands of lives; Mary Ann who now runs the HIV/AIDS clinic and cancer chemotherapy services; Brother Carlo who has spent 40 years as a radiologist in Uganda, and of course Brother Elio who essentially unofficially runs the place and is rumored to be the only mere mortal feared by Joseph Kony. The pride in the hospital’s history is palpable and tangigble.

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