The Nigerian Christian Hospital (NCH) was founded in 1964 by Dr. Henry Farrar. For decades it has delivered great health care to Nigerians in Southern Nigeria, near Aba. Financially, the hospital largely survived on locally generated revenue from patient care, as well as supplements from the mother institution in the USA-the International Healthcare Foundation.. Revenues were assisted greatly by missionary teams, mostly surgical, that came about three times per year and performed many surgeries. In 1998, I became one of these "regular" teams, coming 21 times since. From sometime around 2000, I noticed that the attitudes of employees deteriorated and the hospital entered the doldroms. Mismanagement, corruption, nepotism, indifference and greed lead to a unhealthy financial situation which continued up until 2008, at which time the Perfect Storm hit.
In 2008, the roads leading to the hospital were in the worst repair ever, preventing patients from coming to the hospital. In March, the resident physician missionary, who was in residence for over 2 decades, was kidnapped and shot. He survived but left the hospital. A series of kidnappings overwhelmed the area in the following months. These kidnappings had significant repercussions, the most notable being that all expatriate missionary teams except my own, stopped coming to NCH. My own teams consisted of Nigerian physicians and, we not only continued, but increased our presence. In 2009 we made two trips, in 2010 we made 4 trips and in 2011 we made 3 trips. I don't believe that we were unusualy brave-we just loved what we were doing. Even as the kidnappings continued, more problems were coming. In January, 2009, Dr. Farrar died-a terrible blow for the hospital and everyone who knew him.
The financial situation continued to worsened, and interest waned in the USA. Many felt that the hospital could not continue. I was not one of them. I pushed for drastic action. Finally, the International Healthcare Foundation decided to move. Through a brilliant decision or divine intervention, Dr. Kelechi Eguzo, a young NCH physician, was appointed the new administrator. Kelechi has a business and medical backround and, through sheer energy, revived the hospital. CPR included a housecleaning of the deadweight, including most of the management, as well as a many workers.
It is now about one year since Kelechi has taken charge and the hospital is on the road to recovery.