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Marking a Decade of Service at St. Luke’s in Wolisso, Ethiopia

Ministering at St. Luke’s Catholic Hospital and College of Nursing and Midwifery is one of hundreds of ways in which Medical Mission Sisters around the world try to be a healing presence to others today.

Ten years ago, St. Luke’s Catholic Hospital and College of Nursing and Midwifery in Wolisso, Ethiopia, saw its very first patient. Sister Elaine Kohls, who has served as the hospital’s General Manager since it opened its doors on January 1, 2001, says, “Medical Mission Sisters were involved from the beginning, in the planning and the beginning of the hospital and college, along with other religious congregations.”

Serving a population of roughly 350,000 people, the hospital has more than doubled in capacity over the past decade. It now has 192 beds, and an outpatient department that sees over 300 patients each day. UNICEF has declared it an excellence hospital for the fight against malnutrition.

The college of nursing and midwifery – the only Catholic nurse’s training school in the country – has graduated hundreds of students and continues to offer two three-year diploma training programs. Sister Elaine explains, “80% of the people in Ethiopia live in remote, rural areas. The health coverage is about 50%, as there is inadequate infrastructure such as roads, schools, hospitals and basic health services…also, Ethiopia has one of the highest maternity mortality rates in the world and is very much in need of trained and qualified midwives.”

Sisters from four religious communities minister at the hospital and college, which are owned by the Ethiopian Catholic Bishops Conference. Our other member at St. Luke’s, Sister Maggie Lupiya, is a nurse-midwife from Malawi with a Bachelor’s Degree in community development. She serves in the Public Health Department, which is very active in both the hospital and in outreach sites.

Ensuring safe water is a priority for the health of the people, and Sister Elaine, with gratitude to many generous donors, says that there are now “27 completed hand-dug wells, 17 protected springs, and 7 boreholes in use serving over 90,000 people.”

January 1, 2011