Sister Elaine Kohls is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.
Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, Sister Elaine joined the Medical Mission Sisters in 1955 at the age 18. After college, her first overseas assignment was to Ghana, where she spent nearly 15 years in administration at Holy Family Hospital, Berekum, and Holy Family Hospital, Techiman.
When she returned to the U.S. in 1983, Sister earned her Master’s Degree in International Development at Iowa State University, where she was recognized for high scholarship. In 1984, she took on the administration of Attat Hospital in Attat, Ethiopia.
At that time, Attat Hospital’s service area included 1.5 million people, with one physician for every 250,000 people. The hospital initiated programs for immunization, clean water, and integrated development. In 1991, it won the World Health Organization award for health education in Primary Health Care.
Sister Elaine became the Manager of St. Luke Catholic Hospital and College of Nursing in Wolisso, Ethiopia, when it opened in 2001. “I need to be here in this place at this time, to be with people in their struggle,” said Sister Elaine. “To be Christ bearers with all that can entail, and to let them be Christ bearers in turn, to us and to those they live and work among.”
Ensuring safe and clean water has been an important part of Sister Elaine’s ministry. At the Lower Damakase Spring near Wolisso, a group of development workers from Canada, along with local Christian and Muslim leaders and Sister Elaine, worked together to ensure a safe water supply for the community.
There are now 52 safe water sites which have been developed by the public health department over the years. The hospital is responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the sites. The communities are involved in the construction, which accounts for about
15 % of the total cost for hand dug wells and springs.
On January 1, 2013, Sister Thianesmary, of the Indian Daughters of Mary Immaculate, assumed the role of General Manager of St. Luke’s Catholic Hospital and College of Nursing and Midwifery from Sister Elaine. The weeks ahead will be special times of transition for both Sisters.
January 15, 2013