In Arabic,“amal” means hope, and that’s exactly what Al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis, Gaza, represents – it brings hope to its patients, doctors and staff.
The hospital has struggled since it opened in 1996 to fulfill all the needs and demands of the surrounding community. Dr. Wael Miki, director of Al-Amal Hospital, explains, “The hospital was operating at a minimum level because it was a very old, deteriorated building. And then a fire left the gynecology and adjacent department in very bad shape. In past emergencies, we were not able to cope with the huge number of incoming patients.”
Dr. Miki’s reality has changed and so have the benefits for patients and staff. With USAID funding, Anera completed major renovation of the hospital building, including replacing deteriorated water and sanitation facilities, roof tiles, and damaged false ceilings, repairing cracked walls, repainting, and constructing a sun shade. Major sections of the hospital were upgraded, including the radiology and emergency departments and out-patient clinic. Some departments were relocated to make movement around the hospital more efficient and logical. And, a new ambulance route was established to make access to the hospital quicker and easier.
“Now, we are much better equipped. We can double the number of patients with our increased capacity of 130 beds. We can even do more operations,” Dr. Wael proudly explains. He estimates some 8,000 patients pass through Al-Amal Hospital every month.
Changes Impact Patients and Hospital Staff
The impact of the changes is reflected in the faces of patients and doctors, especially in the new out-patient clinic. “The biggest challenge was the random layout of the clinics,” observes dermatologist Dr. Mohammed El-Brim while he checks six-month-old Asma Abu-Ghoula for skin problems.
Asma suffers from acute skin infections on her neck and thighs. Her mother Amena says Asma had been suffering from this illness for two months before she decided to bring her daughter to Al-Amal Hospital. “I trust the doctors here but I was worried. I have three girls and I used to bring them to Al-Amal Hospital, but I had to keep running from one department to another, wasting time getting lost.” Amena smiles, “Now I can see the difference. I can spend more time with a specialized doctor and I don’t have to wait long hours.”
Dr. Wael knows Amena’s complaints all too well. “We had limited space to use for emergency clinics and space only for three specialized clinics. ”But that has all changed now,” he continues. “We have a whole outpatient building that can host all the clinical departments under one roof. This includes the medical clinic, as well as the cardiology, general surgery, orthopedic, ophthalmology, pediatric, neurosurgery and urology clinics.”
Susan El-Haj, has brought her infant daughter Samaher to the emergency clinic with an acute chest allergy and inflammation on her fingers. Susan finds the new features comforting, “It is so much cleaner and attractive and I can easily find a doctor.”
New Parking Lot for Ambulances
Just outside the emergency clinic is a line-up of ambulances. Mohamed El-Hesi heads the ambulance department and supervises 31 ambulance drivers. He recounts past problems: “Before the renovation, this space was not adequate for us to do our work. Ambulances would get stuck driving in and out. And drivers used to take a break inside the ambulance vehicles because there was nowhere else to go.”
He says the new space has made life easier for the ambulance drivers. “Now we provide services in minimum time!” He says the designated parking lot m