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Aberdeen University medical student Lucy Singh shares her experiences of Ethiopia…

The Mystery of the Moving Beds

Last week, I witnessed a strange occurrence in the maternal and child health building – at least two dozen beds being moved down the stairs. Since my work here involves looking into bed occupancy rates, the sight of so many beds intrigued and excited me. However, I managed to follow the train of moving beds as far as the entrance to the building, then the train continued out the door. I was left standing puzzled, wondering where they were going. A mystery indeed.

It was only today that this mystery was unraveled during a conversation with Dr Siyoum Enkubahiri, medical director of Felege Hiwot Hospital. As it happened, the paediatrics ward was moved into a new building yesterday – hence the mass exodus of the beds from the maternal and child health building.

Dr Siyoum explained that the ward previously home to both paediatrics and neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) had been extremely overcrowded; particularly as the parents of the children admitted to the ward stay alongside them in the hospital. This overcrowding was detrimental to patient care, as there were not enough beds for the patients and it was extremely challenging for staff working in such a crowded environment.

The move has had benefits for both the paediatric and the NICU section of the ward. The ward, previously home to both paediatrics and NICU, is now completely dedicated to NICU. This means there is more space for babies, parents and staff on the ward, reducing some of the problems that can come with overcrowding such as increased hospital-acquired infections. This applies to paediatrics also, having moved to a new area dedicated solely to paediatrics.

Moving bedsWe visited the new paediatrics building to see an area truly built with the wellbeing children in mind. The building has space around it for children to play in, with a gate and walls to protect them from the road around the hospital. The walls are painted with bright, cheerful pictures, with the aim of improving the experience of hospital. The new building houses both the outpatient and inpatient department for easy referral and includes an isolation area to prevent the spread of infection. For a building only moved into yesterday, it was already buzzing with activity!

And so the mystery of the moving beds was solved – demonstrating the mission of Felege Hiwot Hospital in working to “improve the health and productivity of the community through provision of client-centered, sustainable, quality health services”.


“This is a huge contribution to not only improve, but cause an enormous shift in neonatal and child mortality. This is time.” – Dr Siyoum Enkubahiri (pictured at the top)

Read Lucy’s previous blog here.

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