It takes a special kind of person to work in neonatology. Like any physician or provider, a neonatologist must possess incredible knowledge and skill to care for their patients. But when your patients are fragile and vulnerable newborns, you need even more than training and education – you need heart.
Doctors with heart say things like, “I serve at this hospital,” instead of just referring to their “job” and they leave their patients and families encouraged, even when bringing difficult news. These individuals go above and beyond their mandate to “do no harm” and instead seek to do as much good as possible.
Dr. Sulaimon Sannoh is one of those neonatologists. In addition to the lifesaving work he does as a part of the award-winning NICU team at St. Luke’s University Health Network, Dr. Sannoh has been going above and beyond to give back and serve the people of his native country, Sierra Leone, for more than 7 years.
Giving What He Has
Sannoh’s “voluntary medical philanthropy”, as he calls it, began when we started supplying medical books to the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS), the first medical school founded in Sierra Leone. These materials have been used to train students who come to study from all across the country. During the Ebola outbreak that shook the continent between 2014 and 2016, he shipped a large quantity of sanitary medical masks that he received from St. Luke’s University Health Network (SLUHN) in an effort to slow the spread of the disease.
Dr. Sannoh has also been consistently sending various pediatric and neonatal supplies to Bo Children’s Hospital, located in his hometown. These specialized supplies can be difficult to come by in some areas, so he continues to send them year after year. He has also been buying mannequins and other educational materials to help increase the skills of local birthing professionals and increase outcomes for patients.
In addition to giving materials and supplies, Dr. Sannoh has traveled to Sierra Leone many times to provide training and education to local medical professionals and midwives. For the past two years he has been involved in Helping Babies Breathe (HBB), a program designed to teach birth attendants basic neonatal resuscitation techniques in resource-limited countries. HBB focuses on the steps within their book The Golden Minute to save lives and give a much better start to babies who struggle to breath after birth.
During his yearly visits, Dr. Sannoh hopes to increase his contribution by providing further neonatal and pediatric education. This December he will be giving a series of lectures to the small baby unit medical providers, medical students, and residents to teach them more about common newborn and neonatal diagnoses they may encounter.
Finding Time to Give
“Being with Onsite has helped me a lot to be able to do this,” said Dr. Sannoh. “Because of my excellent work-family life balance, I have enough time to focus on my volunteerism.” Onsite’s clinical model is designed to offer the highest quality newborn, neonatal, and pediatric care across the country while also creating an exceptional work-life balance for our physicians and providers. Dr. Sannoh says that this model and structure enables him to continue giving back while also making time to spend with his family.
“I am not rich to give my people money, but I have a special talent as a neonatologist to give back what money cannot deliver.” Thank you Dr. Sannoh for showing us all what it means to truly have heart.