March 31, 2020
By Ambassdor Michele Burke Bowe
Almost four weeks have passed since Bethlehem and the surrounding towns and villages have been under complete lockdown. People are not permitted to pass from one neighbourhood to another and our Holy Family Hospital Mobile Medical Unit has not been allowed to make its weekly rounds.
The good news is that the staff regularly contacts the Bedouin living in isolated communities for telemedicine visits and pregnant women have been allowed to leave their communities to deliver their babies at the Hospital. For the first three and a half weeks of March 252 deliveries have occurred at the hospital, about a 25% decline of expected deliveries.
The road closures make it impossible for women to come from the South and they must instead deliver at local hospitals without the care of high level neo-natology. The NICU at the Hospital has been running at full capacity most days. The babies are fragile and have complicated healthcare needs. It is a blessing thus far that none has required a cardiac surgery for which the hospital is not licensed. For now, quick transfers to Jerusalem for emergency surgery are virtually impossible.
We are grateful for our dedicated staff who leave their families each day to work long hours under difficult circumstances. They are cheerful, encouraging, and very professional. They are good team players– from the chief of medicine to the lunch tray deliverers working tirelessly and courageously to keep the morale up of the staff and patients. Our all Palestinian staff are sacrificing greatly to carry out their vocation to care for the Mothers and Babies of Bethlehem. We thank and congratulate them on their efforts at this time of world-wide pandemic.
Our spirits are buoyed by the outpouring of donations and prayers coming from all over the world including, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Europe. You are like the Three Kings coming from afar (virtually) bringing your gifts to Bethlehem. Please continue supporting and praying for the staff, the mothers and babies and the people of Bethlehem.