I suppose the last few weeks have turned out more or less as I had imagined. As we have ceased to admit new patients or transfers (all are now managed at the general hospital), the wards have become emptier, the staff more melancholy, and the atmosphere a little strained. Project closures are not reputed to be easy – one undertakes this sort of work expecting to be treating patients, yet at this final stage the goal is to avoid treating patients. This can obviously be demoralising, and I have found that I have spent much of the last few weeks chatting with taciturn staff reminding them of all the good things they have done here.
For my own part, it does feel sad to be closing down a hospital that has offered hope to so many over the years, that has been one of the few neutral facilities that has bound the different ethnic groups together. I am also conscious that I have hardly worked here, having arrived just 4 months ago – and it feels a little rich to be giving the closure speech for a project which I only know from the testimony of others.
In these last weeks we have to keep going, to maintain a longer term perspective on the value that a well-conducted transfer can have on the community over the coming years – and not focus on the fact that Bon Marché hospital now has just 2 patients. And we must use the closure ceremony to celebrate with the community the successes of Bon Marche; but also to remind ourselves that the closure is a fine thing, because it reflects a collective confidence that the war is in the past now.