Hospital staff, trainees evacuated

Lae News, Normal

The National, Friday 18th November 2011

HIGHLANDS employees and students at an Evangelical Lutheran church-run hospital in Finschhafen, Morobe, have been evacuated for their safety.
The workers and trainee community health workers at the Braun Memorial Rural Hospital had been reportedly harassed and intimidated by youths from the neighbouring Godowa, Suquang and Kamelawa villages
last Saturday.
The Lutheran health services immediately chartered a Missionary Aviation Fellowship (MAF) plane to Gagidu to evacuate medical superintendent Dr Terry Francis, hospital administrator Joanne Kaupa and three nursing officers last Sunday.
Hospital staff members were unable to give the exact number of students but said they were taken on a motorised dinghy to Lae on Monday and were escorted by road to Watarais, on the border of Morobe and Eastern Highlands to board PMV buses for their home provinces.
The incident has prompted Morobe provincial police commander Supt Peter Guinness to warn youths that threats, harassment and intimidation of anyone would not be tolerated.
Although police apprehended one suspect, he was allowed out on bail and mobilised accomplices who further threatened health staff, Guinness said.
“I have instructed the police station commander to immediately hold all the suspects before I arrive in Finschhafen,” Guinness said yesterday.
“All the councillors, church and community leaders including LLG managers and presidents must discourage youths from inciting further nuisance.
“The recent issue belongs to Lae city and not the other nine districts.
“These are innocent public servants. 
“Some of them could have been victims at Eriku from bag snatchers and pickpockets.
“I strongly condemn such acts by youths,” he said.
Gusap police intercepted a stolen ambulance belonging to Lae International Hospital at a roadblock at Umi Bridge along the Markham
highway yesterday.
The police had signalled to the suspects to surrender.
However, the suspects turned on the police and the Guard Dog security vehicle that was tailing them.
In a shootout, the vehicle’s radiator was shot and two suspects held while the others fled.
The suspects were detained at Gusap police station and later transported to Lae.