McDowell Technical Community College

The Rotary of Spruce Pine

Health Care in Tanzania

By Doug Sudduth

Mitchell County

The Rotary Club of Spruce Pine welcomed Paula and Denny Lofstrom to their regular meeting on November 16. Introduced by their longtime friend and Rotarian, Dr. Arch Woodard, the couple spoke of their work beginning in 2002, when they went to Tanzania to bring health care to underserved people. As a physician and a nurse, Denny and Paula have worked not only in the United States, but in Guatemala and Antarctica before answering the call to go to Tanzania. With the late Mary Ellen Kitundu, they founded International Health Partners, U.S. & TZ, with the mission of planning, financing and building health care facilities in Tanzania. The St. John’s University School of Nursing at Dodoma opened and has now more than 900 students, about 500 enrolled in the BSN program, 250 in the diploma nursing program, and 150 students in the laboratory technician’s program under the umbrella of the nursing school. St. John’s is now setting up the standards for continuing education opportunities for nurses in the entire country.

International Health PartnIers TZ joined with JEMA (For the Children of Tanzania) to form IHP-JEMA-TZ and is building The Children’s Hospital at Zinga. Since breaking ground for the hospital in June 2013, IHP-US-JEMA-TZ has made progress developing the infrastructure to support the proposed 32 units of the hospital, as well as housing for the staff and for the many medical and construction volunteers who have come to help during the past four years. The Outpatient Department was the first unit of the hospital to open in 2016, thus providing care for both pediatric and adult patients. The Children’s Hospital is already making a difference in the lives of children and families as we learned through the numerous photographs that Paula shared in the presentation. She noted that Rotary clubs in Illinois and Missouri have donated equipment for the X-ray building and water purification units. Donors pay the salaries of the 40+ employees who can now feed and educate their families. Donors also pay for building materials, the subcontractors and for the upkeep of the facilities. Paula explained that providing medical care is both challenging and rewarding. With dedicated volunteers and generous donors Paula and Denny are optimistic about the future of the Children’s Hospital at Zinga.

Spruce Pine Rotarians appreciate Dr. Woodard making us aware of the International Health Partners organization and for inviting this dedicated and inspirational couple to share the story of their work with us.

Pictured is Rotarian Arch Woodard presenting a locally handmade Rotary mug to Paula and Denny Lofstrom

Photo by Rotarian Tina White

Submitted by:

Doug Sudduth

(Editor’s Note:  Our paper published this article under the title Health Club. I apologize for that mistake–It should have read Health Care.  Thank you for what you do in Tanzania.)