Alotau General Hospital is a 204 bed Provincial Base Hospital for the whole Milne Bay Area (population 330,000).
All major disciplines are catered for. The staff are very welcoming of medical and nursing volunteers and medical students, and have a Memorandum of Understanding with DAISI.
In 2011 the Australian High Commission provided a substantial grant to add additional beds for the maternity ward to cater for an increase in supervised births, a new 36 bed medical ward, and an 8 bed accident and emergency facility combined with a radiology building.
There is only one active surgeon in the hospital Dr Kennedy James. Although the current Medical Director of Alotau hospital and Director of Curative Services were both surgeons prior to taking on administrative roles.
Alotau is the gateway to the Milne Bay Province, which contains some of the most remote island communities in the world.
The area claims its fame in the history books where the Battle of Milne Bay took place in 1942 and an Australian digger was awarded a Victoria Cross for bravery.
Internationally Milne Bay is noted for its coral reef and scuba diving experiences, with P&O cruises arriving every month.
Despite this the local indigenous population lives below the Poverty Line.
Alotau has a major port located less than 1lm from the hospital. This port allows large ocean liners and cargo ships to dock directly at the Alotau port.
Alotau Port with large ocean liner docking.
Swires shipping have an office and port for loading of shipping containers at Alotau.
The hospital it reasonably modern, with a well-equipped surgical ward.
There are two major and one minor operating theatre rooms in the hospital. The hospital does not yet have laparoscopic surgery or endoscopy facilities. The only active surgeon Dr Kennedy James is keen to develop endoscopy and laparoscopic services at Alotau Hospital.
There are three anaesthetic machines (two fairly modern spacelab brands).
Capnography is available in the main OT.
There is a basic high dependency unit with one ventilatory support machine.
There is a image intensifier in the operating theatre.
Digital X-ray is also available.
There is no onsite ultrasonography however clinicians usually do their own ultrasound examination.
Memorandum of Understanding.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)between DAISI and the Milne Bay Provincial Health Authority was signed on 10th December 2019
which was the exciting start to an ongoing relationship between DAISI and Alotau hospital. Signatories to this MoU included CEO Mr Billy Nadi – CEO, Chariman Mr Peter Neville – Chairman,
Director of Curative Services Dr Perista Mamadi – and Provincial Administrator Mr Ashan Numa.
Alotau hospital is unique in that offices for the Milne Bay Provincial Health Authority (MBPHA), Alotau Provincial Hospital administration, and clinicians, are all located within the same building onsite at Alotau Provincial Hospital. This allows good communication between the hospital clinicians, executive and members of the provincial health authority, with many meetings combined by all members.
Milne Bay Provincial Health Authority (MBPHA) Administration
Alotau Provincial Hospital Administrators
Alotau Provincial Hospital Clinicians
Dr Dale Frank – Manager of Medical Services and head paediatrician.
Mrs Veronica Edoni – Nurse Unit Manager for the Operating Theatres.
Elsie Naide – Chief Radiologist.
James Kara – Head Pharmacist.
Nicole Kouri – Medical lab scientist.
Dr Grace Kariwiga – gynaecologist.
Dr Isaiah Bochum – Senior Surgical Registrar
Dr Iam Umo – Junior Surgical Registrar.
Justin – Anaesthetic Nurse
Sulema Domains – Scrub Nurse
Emmanuel – Anaesthetic Scientific Officer.
Gurney (Alotau) Airport is a busy airport with regular direct 50 minute flights from Port Moresby. It is 14km drive from Alotau Provincial Hospital.
P&O Cruises from Brisbane also travel to Alotau in Milne Bay once a month, with a 10 hour stopover (8am – 6pm) in Alotau.
Transport to the Hospital from Alotau (Gurney) airport.
Alotau hospital provides safe transport for DAISI visitors to and from the hospital.
Travelling with family
Alotau hospital has accommodation, but most volunteer doctors and nurses are accommodated at Masurina Lodge just 3mins walk (200 metres) away from hospital with fencing and 24 hours security. It has a pool. Modern air conditioned rooms cost AUD $164/night ($410 Kina). There are many hotel options.
Alotau International Hotel (see photo above) is 3-4 start hotel, with swimming pool, air-conditioning, and all necessary amenities. It is only 500metres walk from Alotau Provincial Hospital.
The closest accommodation to Alotau Hospital is at Masurina Lodge (see below). Masurina Lodge is a 4 star hotel, excellent for families, with swimming pool and all amenities. It is only 200 metres walk from the hospital. It is managed by Tracey (an Australian National) and her husband. Deluxe air-conditioned rooms (double bed) cost AUD $164/NIGHT ( $410 KINA). Across the road, are less fancy double rooms, also air-conditioned but very basic for less than half the amount AUD $80 ($190 KINA). The manager Tracey is often prepared to give discount rates for DAISI volunteers.
Tawali Dive Resort is situated right on the water next to the coral reefs and offers on site scuba diving. A five day stay costs as little as AU $124 a night.
Tawali Resort is accessible via boat from Alotau. It can also be accessed by bus with a 90-minute bus ride along the Milne Bay coast followed by a 20-minute boat ride to the resort. The combined bus and boat trip between Alotau and Tawali Resort takes approximately 2 hours. In September 2918 20 tourists were robbed by armed bandits at Tawali Dive Resort, but apart from this incident it is generally considered safe.