Building on firm foundations

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Knowing a little about an organisation you are joining can help. But knowing a little can also spring surprises, as the new Executive Director of the Partners in Hope Medical Centre in Lilongwe found out when she took over the reins in September 2017


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Dr Agnes Moses (right) applied for the vacant post of Executive Director of Partners in Hope Medical Centre in Lilongwe she knew that the position would give her an opportunity for leadership in a Christ-centred medical facility. But, as she soon found out on taking up the post, the reality was this and a whole lot more!

“What surprised me when I was given the job was just how big Partners in Hope actually is,” said Dr Moses.

“I had known something of the facility for a while but was taken aback when I came on board and saw the full extent of what the job involved.”

Agnes Moses joined Partners in Hope in September 2017 after working for 16 years with the research facility run in Malawi by the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, both as a clinical researcher and also on the University Faculty as a research instructor.

“One of the things that stands out about Partners in Hope is its Christ-centred values,” she said.

 

Care and dignity: All patients no matter what their circumstances are treated with care and dignity

 

“But they are not just spoken about they are lived out in the relationships between staff, and also relationships with patients whose care is carried out with great respect. There are regular chapel services, and prayer is also an important part of the PIH family.”

Partners in Hope was set up by SIM Malawi missionary Dr Perry Jansen in 2004 with a focus on making a difference in the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Since its establishment, in what was a disused warehouse, it has grown to be a busy medical centre which cares for patients with HIV/AIDS. Through a grant from United States Agency for International Development (USAID), its EQUIP-Malawi project provides training, mentoring and facility development at over 70 hospitals and clinics in Malawi's Central and Northern Region. 

Recognising that HIV/AIDS does not occur in a ‘vacuum’, Partners in Hope has expanded its focus to broader health-systems strengthening. Partners in Hope’s vision is ‘Quality Healthcare … for Everyone’ and its Mission Statement is "As a Christ-centered institution, our mission is to strengthen the capacity of Malawi’s healthcare system to deliver quality, equitable and sustainable health services by establishing a modern hospital, engaging in medical education, research and building the capacity of others.”

The Partners in Hope Medical Centre also offers some of the best medical testing and diagnostic laboratories in the country, as well as three clinical areas. One of these is the free ‘Moyo’ (‘Life’) clinic which currently deals with HIV/AIDS patients. The second is the ‘Dalitso’ (‘Blessing’) private clinic which offers a fee-paying service for a wide range of illnesses and conditions. There is also the ‘Thandizo’ (‘Help’) ward which operates as an out-patient facility.

In addition, Community Outreach is a vital part of the work of Partner in Hope. This comes under ‘Tigwirane Manja’ (literally ‘Let’s Hold Hands’) and reflects the desire to build strong relationships with HIV/AIDS patients while they are at Partners in Hope and after they have been discharged to their homes into three nearby communities. 

Former warehouse: The impressive entrance to Partners in Hope Medical Centre

With a focus on drug-adherence counselling, addressing psychosocial needs and encouraging community involvement, the Tigwirane Manja team follows up patients who have been cared for in Moyo Clinic, Dalitso Clinic or Thandizo Ward. During home visits, they check to see if patients are receiving the support they need to keep their viral loads low and lead healthy lives.

But Partners in Hope is not looking to rest on its laurels.

“There have been expansion plans in place for a while, and I am looking forward to seeing some or all of these come to fruition,” said Dr Moses.

“We are hoping in the next year to lay the foundations for a suite of rooms which can be rented out to bring the much needed resources to sustain quality care to our community in an equitable manner.

“But we also need to look at expanding the medical centre itself. The number of patients we are seeing in all of our areas is increasing, and this means that the space we have is coming under pressure. There is room within the campus to do some extension work, but we are also in conversation with the Ministry of Health and others to see if we can acquire land next to the Centre which we can then develop.”

Dr Moses also wants to expand staff, to be able to take on more responsibility, especially in the area of grant-writing.

“What I want to do here is to empower senior physicians to get more involved in this kind of work in order to ensure that there are adequate resources for us to achieve our vision.

“I also want further to strengthen our relationship with the College of Medicine in Blantyre. We already have third-year medical students training with us, and I would like to extend this to include final-year students and interns as part of their rotation around different medical specialties.”

Although she is only a few months into the job, now she understands the full scope of what is involved, Dr Agnes Moses has a clear vision for how Partners in Hope Medical Centre will progress in the future. She is building on solid foundations and a firm spiritual base as she takes the organisation and its people into a new era under her guidance.

 

 


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