Sister Lillian Nyakaisiki, CSC, at left, white shirt, stands ready as the ambulance prepares to enter the health center’s compound.
With an enthusiastic drum major leading the way, a school marching band in sharp red uniforms paraded down the dusty road and through the village. Band members from Moreau School beat the drums, clanged the cymbals, and loudly tooted trumpets, trombones and a tuba. Joy brightened the faces of the crowd that marched behind. But it was the last item in the parade that drew the most excitement. Rolling slowly and sporting a shiny red garland, a rugged, four-wheel drive ambulance blared its sirens and flashed its lights.
As local dignitaries cut a green ribbon draped across the road, Kyembogo Holy Cross Health Centre took delivery of the region’s first and only ambulance.
Sister Daisy Kabuleeta, CSC, drives the ambulance along the parade route and to the health center.
Celebrating the arrival of the new ambulance are three Saint Mary’s College nursing students who had a six-week learning experience at Kyembogo Holy Cross Health Centre and two Holy Cross sisters. From left, Jillian Nalepinski, Briana Tobin, Sister Jacinta Mueni Munyao, CSC, Brigid Conmy and Sister Daisy Kabuleeta, CSC.
Ambulance serves remote region
In the village of Kirinda, Kyembogo Holy Cross Health Centre serves primarily maternal patients but is equipped to handle a wide variety of cases. Sometimes, however, a patient’s condition is beyond the expertise of staff or requires lab equipment found only at a hospital. The nearest hospital, in Fort Portal, is at least an hour away, depending on road conditions.
Before the arrival of the ambulance, a patient’s only option was to hire a motorbike and driver to attempt the rough and rutted and sometimes flooded roads. But imagine a pregnant mother who has an urgent need related to her unborn baby. Or a person who has lost a significant amount of blood due to an injury. Or a child, feverish and in pain, whose symptoms call for laboratory services not available at Kyembogo. Too many patients’ lives have been lost on the way to seeking advanced care.
The marching band of Moreau Primary and Nursery School heralded the joyous arrival of the new ambulance.
Donors combine to save lives
Three donors made the new ambulance possible. They are a notable example of people coming together to save the lives of people they will never meet. Grants from the Conrad H. Hilton Fund for Sisters and three individual donors funded the $70,000 vehicle. It features oxygen equipment, first aid supplies, resuscitation bag respirators, a roll chair/stretcher and other paramedic essentials. Staff training is underway on the safe and proper transport of ill or injured patients.
The ambulance is a major step in the incredible growth of the 22-bed facility since the Sisters of the Holy Cross founded it in 1998. Serving 20,000 patients annually, including nearly 4,000 admissions, Kyembogo Holy Cross over the years has expanded and improved its facility. Milestone acquisitions include an X-ray machine, an incubator for newborns, a water purification system and other essential items. With eight paid staff and five volunteers, the health center serves Kirinda and a remote region of about 27,000 people.
And while a parade will not accompany the ambulance every time it is called into service, the echoes of the trumpets and drums and the joy exhibited by residents will march on.