In March 2020, theCOVID-19 outbreak was officially declared a pandemic. Over the past nine months this global health crisis has been enormously disruptive and upended many of our well-laid plans. There have been countless challenges and the whole world has been affected by the pandemic; from public health and safety concerns, to quarantine and travel restrictions, and the economic repercussions of the global lockdowns. At CURE International, the work of our Children’s Hospitals has been impacted as well. Our hospitals have had to overcome new and unforeseen obstacles in order to provide safe care to the patients, families and communities we serve. Due to the great efforts made by our courageous staff, the grace of God, and the generous support of our donors, thankfully, we have been able to continue providing that care mostly uninterrupted. As this difficult year draws to a close, we continue to keep our doors open and arms wide to serve children across our network just as we always have – providing physical and spiritual healing to one of the world’s most vulnerable
populations: children with surgically treatable disabilities.
THE IMPACT OF THE PANDEMIC & CURE’S RESPONSE:
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly every aspect of the CURE ministry. Globally, our hospitals have adhered to the local guidelines given by host governments and Ministries of Health, as well as there commendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We have taken appropriate measures and precautions at our hospitals to ensure the safety and security our staff, our patients and their families. This includes mandatory use of face-masks on the hospital grounds, screening centers at the entrance of all our hospitals where staff, patients and visitors are screened for flu-like symptoms, and the testing of patients for COVID-19 prior to admission. Additionally, we have restricted the flow of patients, adjusted consultation schedules and removed a number of hospital beds to allow for social distancing. We have also implemented the use of single-use bacterial/viral filters for all anesthesia machines and have established additional handwashing protocols. Finally, all CURE personnel have been provided with personal protective equipment (PPE) and additional hand-washing stations have been made available to our staff and patients. Despite these precautions, we have experienced periodic and temporary hospital closures, as infection rates have risen and in some of our hospitals patients and staff members have tested positive for the virus. Thankfully, none of our patients or staff have had severe cases, and through added precautions and careful contact tracing our hospitals have been able to remain open. This has allowed us to continue to see patients, to perform life-changing and life-saving surgeries, and to demonstrate the love of God in our spiritual ministry, even in the midst of changed circumstances and
The CURE Children’s Hospital Network is on track to perform more than 10,000 surgical procedures through the end of this year (FY21). Though this figure is 25% lower than a normal year, it is quite remarkable given the circumstances. We also remain on track to see more than 55,000 patients in
clinical consultations across our network! These numbers are lower than what we would expect during normal conditions, driven in large part by the difficulty our patients have had accessing our hospitals. With government-mandated travel restrictions in place in many of the countries we serve, many patients have been unable to come to our hospitals for care. In the same way, we have been unable to conduct mobile clinics, which is one of the most important avenues for patient identification, outreach and recruitment to our hospitals.
In addition to these operational challenges, we have also seen the cost of care increase by nearly $100/procedure due to additional PPE and COVID testing. These increased costs and expenses have also been coupled with a loss of in-country private patient revenue. All of these factors have complicated our ability to serve our patients. However, God has been faithful, and we have been able to continue providing care, even when so many other organizations and activities have been forced to temporarily
pause services around the world.
We have also had the opportunity to serve our patients and their communities in innovative ways, as well as develop new, exciting partnerships through this pandemic. Some of these include community
outreach and awareness-raising programs, supporting Ministry of Health training and response efforts, offering telemedicine solutions where possible and the donation of PPE and medical equipment to government and peer ministry partners.
In our world today, the need for services provided by CURE is overwhelming. Aside from the devastation brought on by the
pandemic, there are 5 billion people globally who do not have access to safe, affordable surgical care. There are an estimated 93million children with disabilities, many with conditions that are treatable. And across our network there are more than 6,000 children on our list who are waiting to access care. By the grace of God, we have overcome many difficulties, however there are still many challenges ahead. In the face of these challenges, we remain committed to serving these children. We want to empower them and help them access education and employment opportunities. We want to minister to them and help them know and understand God’s love. We want to help them achieve their full potential. In a year when so much has changed, CURE’s mission has not, we continue to heal the sick and proclaim the Kingdom of God, bringing hope and healing to those who need it the most. Every day.