November 29, 2010 – Curacao, Netherlands Antilles…Libna Stevens/IAD
Nearly a month after Hurricane Tomas dumped torrential rains on the island of Curacao in the southern Caribbean Sea, Antillean Adventist Hospital is still assessing the damage caused by waist-high floodwaters throughout the one-storey facility on November 1. The rains overflowed a dam which caused heavy flooding over low-lying areas. Nearly everything inside the hospital was destroyed, including its state-of-the-art imaging department equipment.
“We have been serving the community for over 40 years and had never seen anything like this before,” said Cenaida Panneflek, the hospital’s administrator.
“We have lost everything,” said Panneflek. “The water rose to about a meter over the entire hospital and all our machines in radiology, laboratory, operating room, nurses station, kitchen and the rest were under water,” she explained. In addition, all computers, furniture, medical supplies and medicines were destroyed or severely damaged, she said.
At the time of the flooding there were 19 patients and a baby in the hospital. They were transported immediately to nearby St. Elisabeth Hospital, said Panneflek, who has been the hospital’s administrator for eight months. Previously, she was the chief financial officer for eight years.
“I am very happy that God spared the lives of all nurses on duty and the maintenance man that night,” said Panneflek. Since that night, staff and even patients have worked very hard to clean up the facility.
So far, the building has been cleaned and disinfected several times and cultures of the premises have come out clear, according to Panneflek. In addition, the public health inspector has visited the hospital and a special building assessor from California (AHI) has submitted his recommendations in order to resume services.
“After all the assessing and cleaning and culturing we are finally ready to resume operations again,” said Panneflek. “However, due to the lack of machines and equipment, we will have to start little by little as new machines and equipment are replaced.”
“Our main challenge at this time is to get the large machines for radiology, operating room and laboratory back, retain employees by guaranteeing their salaries and replace furniture for the nurses’ station and the delivery room,” added Panneflek. Antillean Adventist Hospital has 120 employees, four medical doctors as well as some dozens of doctors who own private practice and use the facility for their medical services.
Elie S Honore, MD MPH MHA, president for Adventist Health International Services – Inter-America (AHIS-IA), visited the hospital with executive board officers and met with hospital staff last week.
Adventist Health International Services (AHIS), a management organization formed in Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California, partners with Adventist healthcare services in developing countries to strengthen management and mobilize personnel and resources to promote quality health care.
“We are happy that our association with AHIS will help restore and replace equipment for our hospital,” said Honore. “We cannot afford to remain closed any longer. Our hospital there has three state-of-the-art operating rooms for eye, general, and orthopedic surgeries. Our need for this equipment is very urgent and the plans are to have the hospital resume at least 50 percent of its services section by section by the beginning of the new year.”
Dr. Honore said AHIS is working with some other partners to transport a mammography machine, large x-ray machines and another CT scanner within the next few weeks.
So far, Antillean Adventist Hospital has an agreement with St. Elizabeth hospital for surgical cases and follow-up until those services resume, added Honore.
According to Panneflek, plans are underway to offer echo sonograms, some laboratory services, eye and minor surgeries as well as other medical services starting Dec. 6.
An average of 2,080 outpatients and 225 inpatients are seen each month in the 47-bed facility. Antillean Adventist Hospital was built in 1970.