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Church donates medical equipment to sustain emergency service in Cambodia

The Peareang Referral Hospital receives a new generator and ambulance to help save lives

Because of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' assistance, the Peareang Referral Hospital is now better equipped to provide and sustain emergency services to residents of Prey Veng Province in Cambodia.

 When the power goes out, a newly installed generator can provide sufficient power for the entire hospital. If there is a medical emergency on the outskirts of the hospital’s support area, a new ambulance will be able to reduce by half, the time it takes to get a critical patient to the hospital. To mark these milestones, a handover ceremony was held at the Peareang Referral Hospital on January 20, 2020. Key government officials, hospital administrators, doctors, nurses, and even patients gathered with senior missionaries and Church officials for the ceremony to celebrate the critical new equipment. This equipment has been donated as a result of work by senior health missionaries, supported by the Church.


During remarks at the ceremony, His Excellency, General H.E. Meach Sophanna, Secretary of State for Ministry of Interior, expressed gratitude for the strong support the Church has given to continued, ongoing efforts to improve healthcare in Cambodia. He also noted the Church practices of abstaining from tobacco, alcohol, coffee and tea as setting a positive example for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. He discussed how he met President Russell M. Nelson, the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during his recent visit to Cambodia.

                                                                       
He said that President Nelson, who is more than 90 years old, had traveled around the world to visit Cambodia. The audience laughed as he added, “So if you are 40, you should not complain about how old you feel!” General Sophanna then expressed thanks to the Church-supported charities:

"They didn't know us before, yet they are willing to help us like their own brothers and sisters. We need to take care of our patients as if they are our own relatives. They have shown us an example of how to provide and serve others."


The new generator and ambulance have been provided through the work of senior health missionaries who are part of the Cambodia Health Improvement Effort (CHIE), which is supported by Church charities. These senior missionaries, who are retired medical doctors, have been working for months in the Prey Veng Province. Through their efforts, a wide array of medical equipment has been delivered to the Peareang Referral Hospital, as well as to nine local health clinics. This equipment has been accompanied by regular training to health care workers.

Several months ago, these senior missionaries identified serious needs at the hospital. Elder and Sister Warner, senior health missionaries, explained the situation:

“One of our tasks is to identify critical health care needs. As we worked at the hospital we noticed that there were frequent power outages in the area. When the power went out, the hospital would be unable to continue providing critical services because they lacked adequate backup power. The hospital had a backup generator, but it was unreliable and only rated at 30 KVA. This was barely enough to power a single service unit in the hospital. When we inspected the existing generator we could see there was a problem. The generator was old and required frequent maintenance. The radiator was broken and continuously leaked large volumes of water. The floor was covered with 2-3 inches of running water from a makeshift patch. It was obvious that the backup power problem needed to be addressed.

“We also learned that the hospital did not have adequate ambulance services from the outer boundaries of their area. During emergencies, an ambulance had to be dispatched from the hospital and travel up to an hour to reach a patient. It required another hour to return to the hospital. The two-hour time lapse could be a factor in whether or not a patient survived their medical emergency.”

The hospital administration agreed to work in partnership with the CHIE missionaries. They said that if a new generator could be provided, the hospital would construct a new building that would be built high enough above ground that it would eliminate the problem of flooding during the rainy season. They also said that if an ambulance were provided, they would join in the funding and ensure that the vehicle would be fitted with all the required emergency equipment.

 

With this partnership in place, the Church was able to donate a new generator that would provide sufficient backup power for the entire hospital, the other was for the new ambulance.

The new generator (rated at 150 KVA) provides five times the power output of the previous generator. It has already proven its’ value. Shortly after it was installed, the area power went off. Within seconds, the generator automatically started and provided emergency power to the entire hospital, which was able to continue operations without disruption.

   At the conclusion of the handover ceremony, Dr. Hout Kalyan, the Peareang Operational Director, commented on the impact of the new generator. He said:

“This is a very important step for this hospital and this district. This new generator is really needed since the old generator was unable to provide sufficient power to the hospital during power outages.  We will soon head into the hot season and this is when power outages become more frequent. This new system gives us the ability to maintain power to all of the facility. This is especially helpful to our obstetric and surgical units.”



The CHIE initiative is currently active in several provinces of Cambodia. The Church currently has four senior health missionary couples who are working to continue efforts to improve the health care system and practices in Cambodia.

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