News Release

Church Helps Restore Hospital Damaged by Fire in Cambodia

The Church joined in a community effort to help rebuild the Roka Hospital which was damaged by fire.

ដើម្បីអានជាភាសាខ្មែរ សូមចុច នៅទីនេះ

More than 100 members of the small rural community in the Sangkae district, Battambang province in Cambodia, gathered with excitement and smiles to celebrate the completion of the Roka Referral Hospital. The handover ceremony recognized The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and honored guests who participated in speeches, a handover signing, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony on February 10, 2023.

Members of the small rural community in the Sangkae district, Battambang province of Cambodia gathered with smiles to celebrate the completion of the Roka Referral Hospital. The handover ceremony on February 10, 2023 recognized The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, government, and community efforts for the renovation.© 2023 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

The completion of the Roka Hospital represents an especially joyous event for the community. On January 9, 2018, just three days before Dr. Samnang Eng started as the director of the then newly renovated Roka Hospital, it tragically went up in flames. The blaze caused significant damage to the hospital and destroyed a building, laboratory equipment, hospital records and vaccines. 

Cambodia Health Improvement Effort (CHIE) missionaries and spouses, Dr. Ron Larsen and Kathryn Larsen, who serve as humanitarian missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, stood next to each other as Dr. Larsen shared some of their experiences in their role to help relieve the suffering of God’s children. He said, “This is a special occasion. This is the first rural hospital in the Battambang area that the Church has assisted in.” He expressed that “It is a privilege to represent the Church doing humanitarian work in Cambodia”. He explained that the money from the Church is donated by Church members and others and is often donated by ordinary people from all over the world who want to help their fellow man. He added, “We are children of a Heavenly Father who wants us to care for each other. This project represents people who help take care of their brothers and sisters.” 

The ceremony featured traditional Cambodian dancers and speakers, which included Dr. Eng who spoke about the tragic event of the fire and about the hospital being rebuilt. He expressed his appreciation to the Church and community for the support he has received.

Battambang Provincial Health Vice-Director, Dr. Cheng Lysunkheng, also expressed his appreciation to the Church and spoke about how this was “truly a hospital for the people“. The new facilities were even equipped with air-conditioning in patient rooms. He said, “It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, all will receive good care and treatment at the hospital.”  

As humanitarian missionaries, the Larsens worked together with local government leaders and the hospital director to help rebuild and renovate the Roka Hospital. Dr. Larsen stated that Dr. Eng has worked very hard to get the hospital rebuilt and is an excellent director. The main hospital building has been remodeled with a new pharmacy, administrative building, emergency room with a wheelchair ramp, ultrasound machine, HbA1c machine, biomedical analyzer, oxygen delivery system, four water purifiers and dispensers, bathroom facilities, repainting, an electric current stabilizer to help protect the new equipment, and 48 new chairs for the renovated waiting room areas.

Dr. Larsen mentioned that because of this hospital renovation project by the Church, the hospital has attracted the attention of the Battambang healthcare community and prompted the provincial government to renovate another one of the hospital’s deteriorating buildings and build a new waste incinerator. Additionally, a private donor rebuilt their dilapidated toilet and wastewater facility.

When local community members who attended the celebration were asked how they felt about the hospital, they all wanted to respond with how much they liked the new facility. They said that they did not have to travel now and could receive very good care in the hospital. Other attendees talked about how clean and nice the hospital is. Some mentioned the air-conditioning that was provided and others stated that the doctors were very good. 

The doctors at the hospital said that they can now provide a significant improvement in healthcare to their patients. The doctors were also excited about the ultrasound machine now available to help save the lives of mothers and their babies. Doctors are now able to diagnose diseases and diabetes with the laboratory and medical equipment which was donated.     

Roka Referral Hospital is a level one (basic) healthcare facility serving two districts with a combined population of 196,644 people living in 10 communes and 64 villages. The hospital is situated approximately ten kilometers due east of Battambang and will be a blessing to all these communities.

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