Visit to the Thomas Furrer Clinics in Port Harcourt, Nigeria
In January 2018, our Executive Director, Rev. Tom Furrer visited two clinics named after him in Port Harcourt Nigeria. He visited these clinics to learn more about their work and to explore ideas for possible future collaboration with Kateri Medical Services.
The Thomas Furrer Clinics were founded by Dr. Olaniyi Olaobaju (“Dr. Niyi” for short) and his wife Kehinde. Bsdes being a medical doctor, Dr. Niyi is also an ordained Anglican priest in the Diocese of Niger Delta North. In addition to running two full-time medical clinics, he is also an assistant at nearby Calvary Anglican Church. His wife, Kehinde is a Petroleum Engineer and is employed by Port Harcourt Refining Company, a subsidiary of the Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC).
Dr. Niyi was the chief medical officer at Kateri Clinic for many years before his wife accepted the engineering job in Port Harcourt, which is the major center for the petroleum industry in Nigeria. When they relocated to Port Harcourt in 2008, they wanted to replicate the vision of Kateri Clinic in their new context. They wanted to found a clinic that would provide affordable medical care to the working poor and free medical care to those who could not afford to pay anything. Because of his positive experience with Kateri Clinic, he asked permission to name the clinic after the President of Kateri Medical Services.
In 2008, shortly after they relocated to Port Harcourt, Dr. and Mrs. Olaobaju opened a medical clinic in in rented space in Aleto, an economically depressed district on the outskirts of Port Harcourt. Their vision was to provide free medical care to the poor of that area. Even though Port Harcourt is a relatively prosperous area due to the oil industry, the prosperity is not widely distributed. There are many good jobs for those who are highly educated, but not for the indigenous people. These are the people the clinic serves. Because he clinic serves people who cannot afford to pay for medical care, Dr. Niyi and his wife opened a for-profit lab which helps to subsidize the clinic.
In 2016, Dr. Niyi and his wife opened a second clinic in a more prosperous neighborhood of Alode. Their goal is to replicate the model they began in the first clinic in Aleto, with a for-profit lab to help subsidize the medical care of those who cannot afford it. Also, they hope to be able to attract more people who are able to pay in this relatively more prosperous area. They also plan to continue running the clinic in the poorer neighborhood to fulfill their mission of helping those who cannot afford to pay.
Following the visit to Port Harort, Rev. Furrer and the Kateri Medical Services board of directors continue to discuss with Dr. Niyi areas of possible collaboration in the future. We will make our plans known as they develop over the next months and years.