Every weekday morning, at 3AM, patients begin lining up outside Wellbody's clinic. Some have walked miles and some have never been to Dorma before. But everyone is seeking care from the one clinic in Kono District that will serve them with dignity and respect, and where the staff value their patients' lives the same as their own. We've made a promise to the people of Kono District that we will do everything in our power to guarantee the highest quality care available to every patient who comes through the clinic doors.
Since the Wellbody primary care clinic opened in 2008, its capacity has increased from 1,000 to 20,000 patients treated per year. Patients are referred to the Wellbody clinic through word of mouth, by our community health workers, and from government health outposts all over the region. All treatment at the clinic -- including consultations, lab tests, medication, and follow-up -- is free of charge to over 70% of patients, and nobody is turned away because of their inability to pay.
We are developing the Wellbody Clinic into a Clinical Training and Referral Center for Kono District, and partnering with government health clinics to provide staff, support, drugs and supplies to stocked-out and remote facilities. Our clinical programs are bringing top-quality care and medical training to the most devestated healthcare system in Sierra Leone, and saving tens of thousands of people from preventable deaths each year. While our programs currently focus on maternal and child health, we provide essential healthcare to the entire population of Kono District.
Wellbody's clinic is the most advanced primary care facility in Eastern Sierra Leone, and over 70% of patients are women and children. The only clinic run by a doctor in the entire country, we offer comprehensive diagnostic tests, ultrasound services, dental care, HIV care and soon x-ray services--the only facility in the District to have these capabilities. Each of our primary care specialists sees as many as forty or fifty patients each day, and all prescriptions are filled at the Wellbody pharmacy before patients leave the clinic. Our clinic acts as a central referral spot for Kono District, and is one of the only advanced medical facilities in Sierra Leone that is completely accessible to even the poorest patients.
Prenatal Care, Pediatric and Women’s Health
Sierra Leone is the third riskiest country in the world to be a pregnant woman: 1 in 23 women will die during childbirth. Sierra Leone also has the highest under-5 mortality rate in the world: 18.5% of children will not reach their 5th birthday. Of children who die, 65% are infants; many of these babies die as a result of complications from childbirth. Our organization estimates that 10% of babies are stillborn; in Kono District, with the most decimated public healthcare system in the country, these indicators are most likely significantly worse.
Our primary care providers specialize in maternal and child health, and 70% of our patients are women and children. The Wellbody clinic has the only ultrasound services available in Kono District, and receives referrals of high-risk patients from the government hospital. Wellbody also supports remote government clinics to ensure that our impact on maternal and child health extends beyond our own facility.
In Fall 2013, Wellbody will formally open a new facility adjacent to the primary care clinic: a dedicated Women’s Health Center, which will house health education, family planning and preventative care services, an examination room and dedicated cervical cancer services.
Surgical and Emergency Care
Wellbody possesses the most advanced equipment available in Kono District, including oxygen concentrators and an ultrasound machine. Soon, the clinic will also offer X-ray services, which have previously been available hours outside of Kono. In addition to the care available at our clinic, we also work closely with government facilities to facilitate emergency transports for patients in need of critical care. Our medical staff accompanies and supports complex and critical patients in Kono, and we support the District Hospital's surgical facilities to ensure rapid and effective care for every patient who needs it.
People living with HIV/AIDS in Kono face extreme social stigma and economic hardship, and for many of them, free healthcare is the only accessible healthcare. At the Wellbody clinic, voluntary, confidential HIV testing and antiretroviral therapy are completely free. All other medical care for HIV patients and their dependents is also provided free of charge. In addition to the services available at our clinic, the community members working for Wellbody’s HIV/AIDS home-based care project provides individual counselling and support for at-risk patients and also plays an active role in outreach and awareness-raising efforts.
While tropical diseases such as malaria and typhoid get the most attention from most global health organizations, chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension are also prevalent in places like Kono and a serious cause of poor health in the region. Wellbody believes that managing and treating these chronic conditions is a necessary part of improving quality of life for people in Kono, just as it is in the United States.