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Mozambique: Grace Evangelical Hospital, Nampula

May 2018

Belinda & Don Dickey
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Charles Woodrow reports on the preparation of the new mission hospital.

It has been nearly 20 years since I closed down the surgical work I was engaged in during my first eight years in Mozambique, fully expecting to build and inaugurate a mission-owned surgical centre within the next five years.

While that was slowly coming to pass, I got involved in so many other important ministries that, even when construction was finished years ago, I could not leave those ministries to recruit the missionary personnel needed to open our facility.

Finding doctors

For five years we have had a completed hospital, but no missionary doctors to work in it. Not only have I no associates who can take over the mission while I recruit overseas, but with the repeated destruction of our mailing list, I have been helpless even to mount a recruitment campaign through supporters and the internet.

Finally, one year ago, it was decided that, in addition to all the other ministries presented in these reports, I should open the hospital and work there alone if need be, without the medical associates I always deemed essential.

It seemed the Lord was giving us no other option. For me, this was like the priests carrying the ark into the Jordan River as it overflowed its banks, expecting that God would do a miracle to prevent everything from being carried away with the current and drowned!

Hoping for the same outcome God gave in Joshua’s day, we made our decision, and once we did, God immediately began prospering our efforts. The most remarkable advance has been in the form of Belinda and Don Dickey from San Antonio, who have taken on all the States-side work in making the hospital ministry a reality.

In 2014, Belinda had sold a successful business and was looking for a project she could undertake for the Lord with the time now available. She knew I was buried in accounting work and offered to assume all that responsibility from the US, using the skills acquired through years of keeping the books for her business.

I told her our real need was for a recruiter. She accepted and, from there, things escalated until she became, in November 2016, executive director under Grace Medical Mozambique, the States-side board responsible for the hospital, with her husband Don handling special operations while he manages his own business with many employees.

Going in faith

Thanks to Belinda and Don’s diligent leadership and business acumen, we are rapidly progressing to the point of opening the hospital. As I look to the near future, the picture that comes to mind is of a non-swimmer preparing to jump from a high bridge into the ocean.

Opening this hospital in a city of 800,000 people while it is staffed with only one doctor who is already working day and night on other projects seems suicidal, but, as stated above, we believe God is leading that way and trust he has further plans which have not yet been disclosed.

The next breakthrough came when Grace Medical obtained a 40-foot container of used medical and surgical equipment from S.O.S., a medical supply recycling organisation in Louisville. Nearly everything needed for a functioning hospital was in the container, many times over what I had available during the years I did 3,500 operations in the primitive government hospital at Marrere.

That equipment, together with ultrasound machines, OR tables, examining chairs, and additional items Belinda has rounded up, are now stored in San Antonio, soon scheduled to depart for Mozambique. To ship everything already in hand will likely require a second container.

We must now furnish the entire hospital with cabinets, shelves and desks, which shouldn’t be made of wood for sanitary reasons. We are still seeking the best way to do this, perhaps by importing modular materials from abroad or by recruiting an expert to design and oversee construction of these items here.

Government pre-inspection

The hospital will have to pass a careful inspection before the government will allow it to open. Besides having all the necessary equipment, we must line up a full staff of workers, all of whom must have the required government certifications to do their jobs.

A few months ago, I contacted the department of health, asking for a pre-inspection just to know how close we were to being ready. The inspector came and made some astute observations on deficiencies that will require redesigning a couple of rooms, but nothing that we cannot manage.

I was gratified to find that the government inspector was not hostile toward private medical facilities, but in favour of them. To my further surprise, it turned out he was a nurse who had worked with me during some of my eight years at Marrere.

He still thinks I can do amazing things no one else can! This may have been the case 27 years ago, when I arrived fresh from completing nine years of sophisticated American surgical practice and began operating in a province with no other credentialed surgeons. The situation is considerably different now, after nearly 20 years of progress in Mozambican medical care, during which time I have been engaged only in church work.