The Dr Peter Scott Education Centre, Mother Ignacia Hospital, Soe, West Timor, Indonesia, was opened on 10 June 2016.
Dr Peter Scott (14 July 1957 – 26 May 2022) was a doctor for 40 years, initially in general practice and later trained to become an obstetrician and gynaecologist through the Nepean and Canberra Hospitals.
Peter initially started in private obstetric and gynaecological practice; however, in 2002, he decided his passion was teaching and the public medical system, which was no surprise to all who observed Peter through this journey.
Since 2003, Peter worked as a staff specialist at the Canberra Hospital until 26 May 2022 where he died as a result of suicide. A beautiful public memorial service, at the Llewellyn Hall, Australian National University, was held 5 June 2022 where over 1000 people attended to celebrate his life and hear about Peter in his roles as a father, mentor, friend, husband, work colleague and teacher of emergency obstetric skills in the developing world.
Peter, a general obstetrician and gynaecologist, held the roles of senior consultant, training supervisor and ITP co-ordinator, and ran the interhospital transfer service for the catchment under the umbrella of The Canberra Hospital.
Peter truly was a friend and mentor to registrars, residents and medical students for over 20 years and a common theme was they aspired to be just like him. Peter was committed to teaching and training of the skills and human factors required to be a success as a doctor and in this profession. Most importantly, he lived and demonstrated, very naturally, empathy, compassion and kindness to everyone regardless of colour, appearance, postcode, education or any other factor that might separate them from the ‘normal’ that our world has often defined.
I first met Peter in 2003 when I was a first-year registrar and clicked with him, just like so many others had over and over again. Peter Scott was a zero-ego person, humble, no inclusion or exclusion policy, and lived his life, helping out others, not concerned about appearance of personal importance.
In my fifth year of speciality training in Adelaide in 2007, by an act of serendipity, I met a general surgeon, Dr Peter Riddell, who had been travelling to Kefamenanu, West Timor, for many years and providing a consultation and surgical service. After discovering that I was almost finished my training, Dr Riddell suggested I should come on a trip and have a look, as that part of the world was in need of services and education, especially maternal and neonatal care, and he was going on a trip in two weeks’ time. My wife Sue-Ann was 36-weeks pregnant with our baby number two at this point, and if I had gone, I am certain it would have ended our marriage, as baby Jack would have been delivered while I was in Indonesia. I arranged a proxy, I called Peter Scott, and he was on the plane to an unknown place, with another Dr Peter, to see what all of this was about. This trip occurred under the wing of the Flinders Overseas Health Group (FOHG; www.fohg.com.au).
I couldn’t wait to hear the report back from Peter Scott, and it was fascinating – the poverty, lack of services, simplicity of life over there, but the happiness and contentment of everyone. Peter Scott told me this trip paved a new path for his life, and it did. The Monday morning after the previous week in West Timor, he found working at the outpatient gynaecology clinic at The Canberra Hospital to be very different indeed.
In 2009 I went with the two Dr Peters (who became known as Peter 1 and Peter 2) to Kefamenanu and similarly was forever changed by what I saw and realised I had the capacity to help in some manner.
Peter Scott and I met Sr Yasinta Hoar and Sr Rosalind Ma, Catholic religious sisters from the order Religious of the Virgin Mary (RVM), originating in the Philipines, with an arm in West Timor since 1987. Both sisters expressed to us of the need for a hospital in Soe for patients and for healthcare and also the need for education, especially maternal and neonatal care, and it was their dream one day it could occur. As it later turned out, I got into building and Peter got into teaching.
I came back with itchy feet about this and eventually Sue-Ann and I decided that we would build this hospital, not knowing how much it would cost or how to achieve the goal. With the logistical assistance of the Flinders Overseas Health Group, based in Adelaide, that had previously forged a working relationship with the RVM sisters, the project began. Mr Andrew Love and Mr Richard Turnbull dealt with plans, I raised the money and Sr Yasinta dealt with all the local logistics and politics.
After a construction period of 12 months, the Mother Ignacia Hospital, a 25-bed facility was opened 11 June 2016 and so far has served almost 55,000 patients, outpatients, inpatient admissions, antenatal care, vaginal deliveries, and dental, pharmacy and laboratory services. Close to 60 staff are employed. The hospital is accredited with the Indonesian Ministry of Health, as per the required standards, as a Primary Class D Hospital.
Going forward, the whole site is approved to be a 50-bed facility and, with the addition of extra buildings, will qualify for financial funding from the Indonesian government as full Class D status is reached, and the BPJS, the Indonesian ‘Medicare’ will be able to be used at the facility to provide income.
The next building due to start soon, called the Central Unit Building, will include an operating theatre, 25 more beds, a high-dependency unit and others as required according to the government-approved site plan. This building is approximately 2500 square metres and will cost approximately A$1.2 million. Sr Bernadette is the head of the hospital and has navigated all of these hurdles.
At present, the hospital is funded by myself, for capital improvement and running costs, and over the past 10 years a total of $2 million has been raised for this endeavour to this point. Some patient income is also raised, although instead of money at times it might be a bag of fruit, or an offer to do some jobs.
I accept a reduced income from some patients as I have them pay some of their fee for my services to the John James Foundation (www.jjf.org.au) in Canberra, who then pass the money on to the Mother Ignacia Hospital. This simply means the patient receives a discount on their fees, the Mother Ignacia Hospital continues to grow physically and in the services it provides, and all parties are very happy with this arrangement.
If anybody would like to contribute to this hospital, I can be contacted at [email protected]. I estimate from now another A$1.5 million is required to reach the point of a fully constructed and self-funded hospital service.
Back to Peter Scott, whose passion was education, and he believed in the power of education – it is cheap, transportable and can make all the difference. Over approximately 10 years, Peter travelled to West Timor around 30 times, all self-funded trips, providing emergency obstetric education to doctors and midwives who would come and join him, his wife, midwife Ann-Maree Parker and other medical and midwife participants who came from Australia.
‘Teach the teacher’ was the scheme; all training was approved by the local health department, participants were given paid time off to attend, CPD points and certificates were allocated and pre- and post-test assessments were done. Topics included breech birth, post-partum haemorrhage, hypertensive disorders, and adult and neonatal resuscitation. Real-time interpretation was used to overcome language barriers.
In our first world facilities, almost all obstetric emergencies are overcome by the simple techniques and knowledge imparted by Peter and his team in West Timor.
Peter and Ann-Maree loved the anecdotal feedback that was provided on subsequent trips. Such as ‘Dr Peter we rubbed the woman’s abdomen, uterus contracted and she stopped bleeding and she lived’, and Ibu (midwife) Ann Maree, ‘the baby was born blue and floppy and we used the device and what you showed us to breathe for the baby and it lived’. Peter and Ann-Maree, with small smiles on their faces, knew that their contribution to this impoverished part of the world was working and would be passed on to others as the course participants took the knowledge and confidence back to their remote villages.
Part of the site plan of the Mother Ignacia Hospital was a teaching and education centre, and so shortly after his death, the decision was made to build the education centre and name it the Dr Peter Scott Education Centre. This building was opened 10 June 2023, one year after his sudden death. A wonderful healing day occurred – the traditional indigenous welcome, presentation of gifts, mass, lunch, music and dancing. This allowed the healing of Peter’s passing to occur, as all can now see he is permanently present in the Mother Ignacia Hospital, physically and in spirit. From Australia, approximately 30 family, friends and colleagues made the journey to visit Soe for this occasion. All the hospital staff and their families were present and the education centre was officially opened by myself and Ann-Maree Parker, after the celebratory mass and blessing by the Bishop of Kupang. The building is 200 square metres of hall, stage and floor with audiovisual and Internet equipment to facilitate teaching. Ann-Maree and her team conducted a teaching day in the new facility, the first since the COVID-19 closures of early 2020. Since the education centre was opened, it has been used regularly by many local and government organisations for holding training sessions.
Travelling for the first time in 4 years reminded me of how lucky and what a privilege I have been gifted to be involved in all of this and it reaffirms my commitment to see the whole project through to the end.
This whole experience for me is a stark contrast to our society and I always come home not quite sure of who the most lucky people are. We live in different worlds, so comparisons are very hard to make.
Peter said often that participants from Australia ‘get more out of going than what we give back’, and having experienced this myself, he was spot on.
I hope you have enjoyed the story of the David O’Rourke and Peter Scott involvement with the Mother Ignacia Hospital and the Dr Peter Scott Education Centre.
If you would like to be involved as a donor or a trip participant, please make contact ([email protected]).
Thank you very much.