Supplies and equipment, such as ICU and ultrasound monitors not used by Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital of Santa Clarita, were donated to Negele Arsi Hospital.

By Tammy Murga (Santa Clarita Valley Signal) |

SANTA CLARITA, Cal.―Everyone in his community, including local doctors, believed he wouldn’t survive the traumatic injury to his head.

The 23-year-old Ethiopian man had little to no hope until he visited a new hospital in Ethiopia built by a Santa Clarita Valley doctor.

“He had an epidural hematoma, and when you get that with a broken skull you believe you’re going to die,” said Ethiopian-born Gudata Hinika, a Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital trauma and surgery doctor, and founder of the Ethiopian hospital. “With very limited resources we were able to elevate the broken bone and drain the epidural, and the kid was talking the next day. He went home the next week.”

Much like the young adult’s experience, Gudata Hinika and a group of other SCV medical experts have voluntarily helped hundreds of other Ethiopians at Negele Arsi General Hospital, which opened in July 2017. It took nearly a decade to build the multiple-floor facility, which sits on restored acreage that was once a landfill.

The state-of-the-art hospital provides a wide range of care including emergency, outpatient and surgical services to an area of more than 1 million people. At 110 beds, the hospital has three surgeons, nine primary care physicians, an ophthalmologist and 16 staff members.

Supplies and equipment, such as ICU and ultrasound monitors not used by Henry Mayo, were donated to Negele Arsi Hospital.

There’s something vital about its location, Gudata said. The hospital in Negele Arsi, a rural town in southeastern Ethiopia, is five hours away from the closest city.

“We chose that place because it’s where the most help is needed,” said Gudata. In impoverished communities like Negele Arsi, there is one doctor for every 100,000 people, and about 40 percent of the younger generation dies to road injuries and accidents because families do not have access to nearby and affordable medical attention, according to Ethiopia Health Aid, the nonprofit organization behind the hospital.

With free and affordable care for all, Ethiopians have traveled far to receive aid from Negele Arsi Hospital. The goal, however, is to minimize that travel through outreach.

“We’ve built a central hospital, and that’s great, but it’s in a community that’s 250 kilometers away from everything else in every direction,” said Gudata. “Our dream is to reach out and affiliate our hospital with communities around, including refugee camps.”

In July, Gudata was accompanied by Henry Mayo otolaryngologist Satish Vadapalli and surgical nurse Sheila Tesiny, and they served in Ethiopian refugee camps. In one day, the team served about 500 people, aiding 300 in just the first four hours, according to Vadapalli.

Their work didn’t end with medical mission trips and the establishment of the Negele Arsi Hospital. There’s one more part to the hospital’s title: Medical College.

Continue reading this story at Santa Clarita Valley Signal
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