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SDAs give SOPA hospital to Engans after forced closure due to violence

October 13 2009 at 10:34 AM
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Papua New Guinea: Church Gives Hospital to Community

Seventh-day Adventists have given their hospital at Wabag in Papua New Guinea to the local Engan community.

Church leaders in Papua New Guinea voted in May last year to give Sopas Adventist Hospital to the province on the condition it repay K427,000 owed to the church. The province deposited the money in a trust account held by the church's lawyers in February this year.

A group of Engans are administering the 100-bed hospital on behalf of the province after reopening it on March 1. They have removed signs bearing the church logo, and "Adventist" does not appear in the new name.

Denis Tame, associate secretary for the church in Papua New Guinea, says he is "relieved" the issue has been resolved. The former chief executive officer of the hospital says two issues--fighting and funding--forced the closure in early 2001.

The closure followed the attempted murder of the hospital's director of nursing, Francis Kup. Dr. Isaac Ogendi, one of two doctors at Sopas when it closed, tells of armed warriors surrounding Kup. "One threw an axe that narrowly missed him. Others were about to shoot him before, miraculously, changing their minds and firing bullets at our ambulance and bus." Patients at the hospital "fled within two hours."

The church moved staff at the hospital to its local mission compound at Mount Hagen, "and they weren't prepared to return," says Tame. Students also received threats forcing the church to relocate the College of Nursing to Pacific Adventist University in Port Moresby, where it continues to operate.

Ogendi stayed at the hospital for two weeks under "extreme duress," eventually leaving under armed police guard.

Tame is saddened the church no longer administers the hospital. "We did everything we could to keep Sopas open," he says. "The attack on Francis--the culmination of many years of harassment--convinced us to close." He stresses the hospital managed its funds appropriately. "The government used Sopas as a model of good accounting practice during meetings of hospital administrators."

Dr. Percy Harrold, former health director for the church in the South Pacific, says many recognized Sopas as the best administered hospital in Papua New Guinea. "I hope, in the interest of better health for the Engans, the new hospital quickly achieves the same status."

Ogendi encourages the church to consider opening another hospital. "Papua New Guineans will appreciate the church carrying on the Sopas legacy. I wouldn't hesitate to work at a new church administered hospital if asked."

Sopas Adventist Hospital opened on September 18, 1963. Some 5,000 Engans attended the ceremony. The hospital filled its 45 beds within weeks. The College of Nursing began a year later. The hospital recorded a daily occupancy rate of 87 percent in 1999, performing an average of 90 major and 140 minor operations each month. It established 18 maternal and child health clinics in the district while treating an average of 10,000 outpatients each month.
Wabag Papua New Guinea,
Brenton Stacey/ANN

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Re: SDAs give SOPA hospital to Engans after forced closure due to violence

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November 14 2009, 6:43 PM 

This is all bull**** as the local people has never treatened any stuff members.
The fight was between two neighbouring tribes and not against the hospital.
Francis Kup and Dennies Tame had all along plan to move the nursing school to Pau.
Dennie Tame is now an unpopular man living , hiding in corranbong.
I do not know where Francis Kup is but the truth will find you out because the institute God,s.

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