By Jude Abanseka
After functioning as a health centre for about 11 years, the Ministry for Public Health has finally upgraded St. Maria Soledad Heath Centre, Bamenda, to a hospital.Although it was upgraded since February 2014, the hospital authorities still had to choose a date to officially inaugurate the hospital and this was done on Saturday, November 15, 2014, during which a project to construct a modern maternity was also launched.
The twin event began with a thanksgiving Mass at the hospital esplanade with Mgr. Lucas Sanosi as the lone celebrant. In a straight-to-the-point homily with “You did it to the least of these brothers of mine, you did it also for me”; as theme, the Ngomgham Parish Priest said the gospel passage explained in simple but clear terms the charism of the Sisters Servants of Mary Ministers to the Sick.
He said the gospel text also explained God’s Last Day judgement standard. Mgr. Sanosi said God is not going to ask difficult questions or things that are difficult to do. He went on that God is not going to judge according to how much wealth or education one had, but only to see whether we have been sensitive to the basic needs of our fellow man; things that are convenient to do. “These are things like visiting the sick or prisoners, giving food or drink to the hungry or the thirsty and clothing the naked,” he outlined.
He pointed out that whenever we do any of these good acts; we do it to Christ who comes to us every day in disguise. He noted that nobody will refuse to assist Jesus if He comes in person. Mgr. Sanosi said in doing good works one must not think of any gain in return, but should do it because a fellow man is in need. He congratulated the Sisters and urged them to work as a team to succeed in their new venture.
He prayed for the hospital, its workers and those to construct the planned maternity. He also blessed all hospital buildings including the site on which the maternity shall be constructed.
After Mass the Matron, Mother Carmen Rodriguez, lauded the collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health. The Mayor for Bamenda II urged the Sisters to also consider opening a cardiac centre someday. The Minister and the Regional Delegate for Public Health’s representative, Dr. Gladys Tayong, congratulated the hospital on its transformation from a health centre to a hospital within a very short. She urged users to pay their bills to sustain the hospital. She promised to transmit the wish of opening a cardiac centre to the appropriate quarters. The internist and chief medical officer, Dr. Jonah Wefon, also expressed the wish that the hospital should be a training centre.
Close to FCFA 2,000,000 was raised on the spot and pledges made for cement when the construction of the maternity begins.
Talking to L’Effort camerounais, the Human Resource Manager, Terrence Nzonyi, said they were going to expand their areas of specialities because they only have a general practitioner and one internist for now. He said a gynaecologist will soon be hired. He added that a paediatric and dentistry unit will soon be created and the number of beds increased to reflect its hospital status. He also said they intend to widen the help given especially to children below 10 years.
St. Maria Soledad Torres Acosta founded the institute of the Sister Servants of Mary Ministers to the Sick in Madrid, Spain in 1851 with the motto: “I was sick and you visited me”. On October 24, 1971 six of her daughters received the missionary crucifix from Pope Paul VI and on October 26, they arrived in Nguti, Cameroon. They now have three foundations in Widikum, Bamenda and Dschang in Cameroon and Africa.
St. Maria Soledad Catholic Health Centre was inaugurated on March 4, 2003. Due to their services and the desire to help more sick people, the Matron Mother applied to the Minister of Public Health to upgrade the health centre to a hospital. On February 13, 2014 the Minister for Public Health, Andre Mama Fouda, approved that St. Maria Soledad Catholic Health Centre should officially become St. Maria Soledad Catholic Hospital.