As most St. Anselm parishioners know, Fr. Anthony is returning to Nigeria on August 5th to attend an important meeting of his religious order, the Congregation of the Holy Spirit. For the past 11 years we have gotten to know and love him and look forward to his annual summertime visit. At masses on the weekend of July 30th & 31st, Fr. Anthony spoke warmly of the joy he has had being at St. Anselm. Parishioners showed their gratitude by giving Fr. Anthony a hearty round of applause and bidding personal farewells as they left the church through the vestibule.
The Publicity Committee asked Fr. Anthony to bring us up-to-date on his activities. He was pleased to share the following with us:
HOLY GHOST HOSPITAL, MGBIDI, NIGERIA
I began coming to the Parish community of Saint Anselm Bay Ridge from Rome in 2005. I was a graduate student then pursuing a doctorate in the social sciences. After successfully finishing my doctoral program in 2013, I returned to my country, Nigeria. On arrival, I was appointed to head a new hospital (Holy Ghost Hospital) that my Religious Order had established. I was expected to help with the psychological evaluation of candidates (as a trained clinical psychologist) as well as contribute to the formation program of my home Province. My primary focus however was to see to the smooth take-off of the hospital project and to guide it to a path of stability and success. Thus, my work through the year revolves around this hospital project. I would like to present this Hospital to you. I look forward to sharing my experiences as the administrator when I return next year.
Holy Ghost Hospital MGBIDI is a government-approved Hospital fully owned and operated by the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (HOLY GHOST FATHERS AND BROTHERS/SPIRITANS) Province of Nigeria South East. The Congregation is an International Catholic Religious Missionary Order of Priests and Brothers founded in 1703 in France. Its missionary endeavors span over 60 countries in the world. Many people from the South Eastern part of Nigeria can still recall vividly the Irish Holy Ghost Fathers who labored in many parts of the region, establishing missions, schools and hospitals. These missionaries labored not only to plant the seed of Faith but also played a big role in fighting hunger and disease during the civil war as they championed relief efforts and services. The involvement of the Congregation in the health care delivery system goes back to the early missionaries who saw this as complimentary to their mission. During this period the missionaries opened a number of clinics, infirmaries, nursing schools, leprosarium and other primary health care facilities.
Holy Ghost Hospital was formally established in 2013. It was originally conceived as an infirmary to serve the health needs of the retired members of the Religious Order. This informed the siting of the hospital within the retirement complex – HOLY GHOST HAVEN. However, true to its missionary orientation and in keeping with the need to identify with the people, the Provincial Administrator of the Congregation decided to go for a hospital that will not only serve the needs of the retired conferees inside the retirement complex but the local community as well. The hospital opened its doors to patients for the first time on the 17th of April 2013. Presently the hospital has two doctors living within the hospital premises (Drs. Jonah Ugochukwu and Mercy Otu). There are other doctors who are hired to consult on certain days, issues and cases. The hospital has a number of nurses employed full time to care for patients. There are two laboratory scientists working fulltime while the hospital collaborates with some external labs for some medical tests.
The mission of the Holy Ghost Hospital is to provide quality health care at an affordable cost. True to this mission, the hospital has continued to serve the neighboring communities with a view to merging quality and affordability. Within the short span of its existence, the patient base of the hospital has grown beyond 2,000 families. Being located within the rural community, the main thrust of the hospital is the provision of primary health care to patients. Referrals are done for cases requiring specialized care.
The hospital has all the basic facilities required in a hospital. It has a standard theater for basic surgeries. There is a standard laboratory for medical tests. The hospital also has some modern medical machines like ECG, Ultra Sound and X-ray for pertinent diagnostic purposes. The overall aim of the hospital is to provide a space where patients need not be referred around for simple diagnosis. Oxygen tanks and oxygen concentrator machines are readily available for deployment when needed.
The hospital aspires to grow into a big hospital comparable to others in the country. A new site has been acquired and a new hospital complex is already under construction. While the current hospital has limited bed space, the new hospital is planned to have six general wards, 24 private wards and three operating theaters. There is enough land for further infrastructural expansion.
Healthcare delivery is a very capital-intensive project. It becomes even more challenging when envisioned as a ministry in the service of God and humanity. While Holy Ghost Hospital makes an effort to cover its running cost, the need to merge quality and affordability remains integral to our mission and vision. It is our vision to bring quality healthcare services to many with commitment to Christian charity. We would like to build and operate a hospital that will serve all while paying close attention to those who may be cut off by affordability considerations. To put it shortly, we are in the healthcare sector in order to serve ALL. Healthcare services are almost left to the individual in Nigeria because there is no functional governmental health delivery program or safety net. People rely on private hospitals and these hospitals naturally run on the basis of making profits. Mission hospitals however, are perceived more as charitable institutions than profit-making projects. As a mission hospital, we have to navigate between the demands of Christian charity and the need to stay afloat. This is a very challenging situation.
As I noted at the beginning, I look forward to sharing in detail my experiences as the administrator of the hospital. For now, suffice it to say that the director is responsible for the day-to-day running of the hospital.
Rev. Fr. Anthony Onyebuchi Alimnonu, C.S.Sp., PhD
We look forward to welcoming Fr. Anthony back “home” next summer and ask that you keep Fr. Anthony, the healthcare staff, and patients at Holy Ghost Hospital in your prayers.
All the best,
The St. Anselm Publicity Committee