Galmi Hospital was founded by SIM in 1950, but for 15 years prior to opening its doors, SIM Niger had been negotiating with the colonial French government for a piece of land on which to build a hospital.
The Early Years
The hospital was first staffed by Dr. Burt Long and his wife Ruth. The original buildings, a house for the Long family and a “T” shaped hospital ward were built the previous year, before the Long’s arrival. At that time there was no water or electricity at the facility, and the operating theatre was a lone wooden table.
During his year in Paris learning French before arriving in Niger, Dr. Long acquired a U.S. army surplus field x-ray machine, which lasted 25 years at Galmi Hospital! Patient beds were iron cots that were made in the region and locally woven mats served as disposable mattresses.
In those early years, the wooden table serving as the surgical table eventually collapsed under the weight of a patient, and was replaced by a proper OR table which was donated by the Evangel Hospital in Jos, Nigeria.
Throughout the 1950’s, the SIM Galmi Hospital continued to attract additional missionary doctors and nurses, which required the building of additional homes on the property. A chapel was also constructed. Eventually patient cots were replaced with 120 real hospital beds and shipments of windmills and other equipment and supplies began to be sent from the United States.
The Awana Scripture memory program was introduced in the early 1960’s. Hundreds of local children participated through the years, learning and memorizing God’s Word in Hausa, their heart-language. While there were many professions of faith in Jesus, pressure at home lead most to abandon this new found belief.
Also in the 1960’s, the hospital built a specialized unit for the treatment of Tuberculosis. This ward had space for 60 patients, bringing the total census of the hospital up to 180 beds.
Growing and Expanding
For over twenty years, the SIM Galmi Hospital relied on young boys hauling drums of water on donkey carts for its water supply. Finally in the mid 1970’s a borehole was drilled so that water could be pumped onto the property and into the hospital. There were two tanks built, one for the SIM Galmi Hospital, the other to provide clean, safe water to the community.
The 70’s also saw the establishment of a dental clinic. (more details coming soon)
By 1980 there were 40 missionary households at Galmi Hospital from around the world. A dirt airstrip had been built and SIMAir was flying in and out regularly, bringing supplies and new staff.
While in previous decades there were only 30 obstetrics admissions per month on average, in the 80’s this number jumped to 150 per month. It was then decided that a new dedicated ward would be necessary, and the first Obstetrics Building was constructed and staffed with locally trained midwives.
Around the same time a new outpatient center was also built, and outpatient clinic hours were extended into the afternoons, as numbers were beginning to double. The Under-5 Clinic also required its own treatment space, and it took over the Awana building. This increase in patient numbers resulted in fewer hours being dedicated to the sharing of the Good News, so a handful of local Christians were hired to work as Evangelists so that the missionary doctors and nurses could focus on medical care: the Body of Christ at work.
A Village Health Project was established and the team was visiting 16 local communities each month providing immunizations, pre-natal care, and was supervising 60 traditional midwives and 45 village health workers. In 1986 the little chapel on the property was no longer needed when a local church building was opened in Galmi village, with seating for 200 people.
After Forty Years
In 1991 the SIM Galmi Hospital developed a new initiative called the CREN, an-onsite centre to help combat malnutrition in children under the age of five. This program not only treated malnourished children, but trained their mothers to provide more nutritious food using local ingredients. The program also incorporated training on safe food storage and preparation, as well as good hygiene practices and sanitation.
By the early 90’s it was apparent that the original operating theatre was no longer sufficient, so another new building was opened in December of 1993 which had three new operating rooms. Around the same time our outpatient department continued to expand through the opening of an eye clinic. The clinic staff worked at the facility three days a week, and spent the remaining two days doing screenings in surrounding villages.
HIV was on the rise in Niger during the mid-90’s. Galmi Hospital’s staff began recognizing the need to start teaching on HIV transmission and prevention. The outpatient staff began giving presentations to those in the waiting rooms. This became the precursor to our HIV Program.
While the 90’s saw several strikes by the Nigerien hospital staff, and the hospital was almost closed, God was faithful! On average, over 5000 people were seen by the various outpatient department clinics each month, and 4500 admissions each year.
The New Millennium Makes 50 Years
(more to come)