In November 2014, Ebola dealt a devastating blow to Kissy United Methodist Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone. The medical director, renowned surgeon Martin Salia, contracted the virus and died. The staff lost a friend, a colleague…and the momentum to put into place many of the reforms he was enacting.
(February 2015) Leonard Ben Gbloh, Acting Hospital Administrator, Kissy United Methodist Hospital: “He was really talented. He’s a doctor with a difference. Yes, it’s going to take some time to set, to bring the hospital back to its glorius days. It’s gonna take some time.”
Kumba Konomanyi, Matron, Kissy United Methodist Hospital: “Oh, the late Doctor Martin Salia, may his soul rest in perfect peace. He had a passion for the job. He wanted this hospital to be the best in this country. He wanted to see this hospital as the center of excellence in this country.”
(Nat sound in operating room)
Martin Salia was a rare individual. Although a U.S. citizen, he chose to serve the poorest in his country of birth. He strived to be a transformative figure for his patients and staff, as he explained in this April 2014 interview.
(April 2014) Dr. Martin Salia, Medical Director, Kissy United Methodist Hospital: “We need to check each and every individual, “What are you doing? What are you offering in your own small corner that you could brighten than corner? How are you contributing in one way or the other to promote this place?”
Kumba Konomanyi: “He was the kind of person, even the porter that is working in his office sometimes he would tell the porter, “Go and bring me the broom. Today I am going to sweep. You should not be sweeping alone.”
When Salia died on November 17, 2014, it was international news. But, when the headlines faded, the hospital was faced with a dwindling patient load and a grieving staff. Now they are bouncing back.
Leonard Ben Gbloh: “Yes. Kissy will survive the Ebola. We will always remember the late Dr. Salia for the sacrifice, for the passion, to come and serve the people of Sierra Leone. In the midst of scarcity of expert medical personnel, he would have stayed in the United States himself, but he decided to come serve his people. He had a passion for his hospital.”
Since May of 2014, Ebola has taken more than 11,300 lives in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. A total of 8,704 Sierra Leoneans were infected; 3,589 died, including 221 healthcare workers. Eleven were doctors.