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June 30, 2011 / calebdresser

Edna Adan Maternity Hospital

Edna’s hospital is a gleaming, gritty miracle. It provides the highest level of maternity care available in Somaliland, and handles plenty of unrelated medical cases ranging from car accidents to diabetes and meningitis. It is a place of great contrasts, both technological and cultural; sterile, modern operating theatres sit at the ends of hallways whose floors are cleaned by women in headscarves using buckets and pieces of wet cloth.

The hospital consists of a large central building surrounded by smaller buildings in a walled compound. The south wall runs along the main road and contains a tea shop, a mosque, the main gate, a supermarket, and a pharmacy. On the east side are the outpatient buildings and laboratory, while on the west there is an open area filled with construction materials. The north side of the compound has a lush garden, water tanks, and dormitory space for some of the local staff. In the centre of this archipelago looms the main building, rising to a platform four stories above the rooftops of the town. The effect is not unlike that of a medieval castle, with its surrounding town, outer wall, gate, and central keep. Inside, however, the hospital is anything but medieval.

The ground floor of the hospital is divided into three wards that radiate away from a central reception desk and staircase. To the right is the Medical ward, which consists of a mixture of shared and single rooms. Patients are generally divided into rooms by gender and disease type, and the nurses make an effort to isolate infectious cases such as measles and meningitis.

On the left side of the building is the Maternity ward. Like the medical ward, is has several large shared rooms and some smaller private rooms. Most of the patients here have recently delivered, either normally, with assistance, or via C-section, and are simply waiting until they are ready to go home. The maternity ward is in many ways the most pleasant part of the hospital, replete with happy families and brand new babies.

The third ward, Delivery, is at the end of a hallway that radiates directly away from the entrance. It includes a labour room, a delivery room, an operating theatre complete with scrub and sterilization rooms, a minor operating theatre, and some private patient rooms off the hallway. This part of the hospital changes like a sultry summer day; one moment it will be silent and empty, and the next there will be an emergency C-section going on in the theatre while the midwives deliver babies next door.

The upper floors of the hospital are dedicated to teaching, living, and administration. The second floor includes Edna’s office, some living space, the kitchen, the dining room, a library, computer rooms, a classroom, and the hospital’s administrative office. On the third floor, there are two more classrooms, a conference hall, living quarters for the staff, and more offices. My room is in a separate area on the third floor of a building behind the hospital, right above delivery, which is connected to the main building via a fifteen-foot bridge.

Beyond the third floor lies the roof, which is easily accessible and probably one of the nicest places in the whole neighbourhood. Wide, flat, and ringed by a railing of whitewashed masonry, the roof is perennially breezy. In the centre, above the stairwell, is a raised section that holds three large water tanks and can only be reached by climbing a steel ladder. From this eyrie, the whole city of Hargeisaspreads out in strokes of green, white and brown until it fades into the surrounding desert hills.

Closer to the hospital, the roof gives an excellent view of the neighbourhood. The main street just south of the hospital runs east-west, and is lined with stalls and carts and shelters that contain restaurants, money changers, tea shops, and the ubiquitous bundles of fresh green khat imported from Ethiopia. Behind the hospital lies a neighbourhood of single story houses with tin roofs. Goats and children gambol along the uneven, sandy lanes and the occasional car picks its way between trash-hung patches of cactus and tumbledown, bullet-pocked foundations left over from the civil war twenty years ago. The neighbourhood and the hospital stand together as an inspiration, an affirmation of the will to move past violence and build something better than what came before.

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2 Comments

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  1. minstrelm3 / Jun 30 2011 12:50 pm

    All of this is really interesting, visualizing how Edna’s fine hospital functions and fits into Hargeisa. Her dream was made real, and it’s important for all of us to see. Thank you again for continuing to share it with us.

  2. Leeann Louis / Jul 2 2011 3:30 am

    Such wonderful descriptions! It’s interesting how giving the layout of the hospital may seem very straightforward, and yet it can tell you a lot about how the hospital works, what’s important, how Edna’s work relates to the community, etc. I like your description of the view from the rooftop; it seems to give you distant view of the world outside, just as your blog gives all of us a view of your world.

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