At 0230 on the morning of 21-November-2013 the guards at the hospital saw flames coming out of the locked kitchen at Chidamoyo Christian Hospital. Immediately the Administrator and all people on the mission were alerted and came to the hospital to help.
15 fire extinguishers were used to try and stop the spread of the fire but it quickly spread to the laundry on one side and the drug storeroom on the other side. While Major was using the fire extinguishers on the kitchen door part of the ceiling fell in and hit him on the side of the face and spun him around. In the smoke he was disoriented and flames were on 2 sides of him. The driver of the construction company came up and pulled him out! He went on to continue fighting the fire for 4 more hours!
The community as well as the Construction crew from Harare working on upgrading our Waiting Mother shelters jumped into action and came with buckets of water, ladders, picks, shovels and axes to try and contain the fire. Amazingly this fire which destroyed three buildings was stopped with only buckets of water! This was really God’s power. People were running to boreholes when we exhausted all the water from our tanks and the driver went and filled barrels in my swimming pool! We never ran out of water—another miracle for Chidamoyo.
When the fire began to approach the Administration block people quickly evacuated drugs, furniture and equipment from the Administration block. On Friday we actually found out that the tresses above my office, Major’s office and the linen room had been burnt. How it was stopped by itself without falling into the ceiling and starting that wing on fire is only through the hand of God!
The extent of the damage of the fire is the total loss of the kitchen and all equipment inside and provisions, the laundry with blankets, sheets, patient gowns, a washing machine and a roller/ironing machine, and a drug storeroom that had a large amount of drugs and supplies, as well as the chaplain’s office.
We immediately moved all patients to the road outside the hospital when the fire began and the nurses did an excellent job caring for them and getting them transferred safely. When it was light and the fire was under control we moved the patients to the outside veranda of our OPD and Maternity Departments. We quickly assessed the patients and sent 18 patients to Karoi District Hospital. Their ambulance came and took the 3 most critical patients and then their lorry took the rest of the patients. We were able to discharge 26 patients home for review at a later date and we kept 5 patients who are not serious and will be going home very soon.
We are unable to operate our inpatient department as we have limited resources to cook and provide linen for patients as well as our drug supplies are mostly gone. We have instructed patients to use other facilities until further notice but we will try and continue to see our reviews for TB and ART. We were able to send a team for our ART and EPI outreach on Thursday after the fire and we can continue to cover that. When they announced that Chidamoyo Hospital was closed for now—people started screaming and crying.
We do not have a functioning theater until we can get electricity working again in the hospital. A vaccine fridge and a pharmacy and lab fridge have been moved to staff housing where there is electricity when Zesa is working. It was off from 10 a.m. on the 21st until 8 p.m. on the 22nd. So we hope now it will be reliable.
From the preliminary findings we feel these three buildings will have to be totally demolished and new buildings built. This will take some time but we hope we can build a temporary kitchen and laundry facility. We are thankful we have a new storeroom to secure things which was just finished in the last 2 months.
We are thankful to the community for their quick response to help contain the fire and for the Construction Company workers who helped so much in putting the fire out.
There was no loss of life or injury and we are thankful to God for that. When the huge flames were coming out of the drug room and vials were exploding , I was sure someone would be hurt. We had alcohol, ethanol and other very explosive things in that storeroom, and people were on ladders above the roof with buckets to put the huge flames out! Not a single injury, burn or any injury—a true miracle.
Last night (Friday) we received a truck from Chinhoyi and Karoi hospitals with linen, things for the kitchen, drugs (some drugs we haven’t seen in a few months here even!). We wanted to remodel our kitchen this year and now we can build a whole new building from scrap. Yesterday we had people from ZACH (the organization that represents all mission hospitals in Zimbabwe), Red Cross, and Disaster Relief for our District and they have all promised to seek donations on our behalf—even from the businesses in Karoi.
A group of business people from our township showed up today to tell us since the hospital is closed their business has stopped. They want to help to get us going because their livelihood depends on it. Also the Kombis (vans that transport people to and from the hospital) are sitting with no work to do and they want to help. It is amazing how our hospital supports so many other businesses!
Over and over the people said “this is our hospital for our Province and we need to get it back and running as there is no other hospital like this to help our people.” It has been amazing to see how loved and supported we are. Everyone up to the President’s office knows about this and all have promised to get us up and running quickly!
Many people have sent emails of encouragement to us and we thank you so much for your prayers and thoughts. Even through this disaster so many people have helped in so many ways.
We do have some immediate expenses of hiring extra people to clear the rubble, getting things torn down and taken away to make it safe to walk under. Also we had just bought an ox for feeding patients the day before and so lost $500 in meat and a freezer. We lost food and supplies which we have to buy now, luckily we only have a few patients to serve (today we had 7 in-patients). We have to hire electricians to come and follow all wires and put new wiring in the rest of the hospital to get the hospital up and running again with electricity. We have moved fridges and freezers to our houses which do have electricity, when Zesa is on, in order to keep vaccines, blood and reagents cold. We hope to get the theater on this next week in case we have to do a C/S. The X-ray room is on the separate circuit so we can use it.If you would like to send a donation please send it to: Chidamoyo Christian Hospital P.O. Box 714 Sebastopol, CA 95473-0714. Mark it for the FIRE.
Thank you for all your emails and thoughts and love. We all feel them. I can’t get back to each of you individually right now, but thank you to all of you for your generous support. You are all blessings to us.
Wing on right destroyed
Drug storeroom still smoking
Backside of wing that burnt
Charred trusses going into Admin Block
Patients on veranda of OPD
Entrance to kitchen
Taking care of patients outside