From treating snakebites to providing life-saving care for a patient in a diabetic coma to delivering a baby in the back of an ambulance, The Luke Commission has grown a medical emergency department to deal with urgent medical needs.

Like so many other services on the Miracle Campus, the emergency department started because people needed help. It began when one distressed person after another came to the campus gate.

Babies are welcome at TLC, day or night.

In the last 6 months, 40 medical cases have been true emergencies, according to Rebekah Sartori, senior nurse. Other cases, which were initially suspected to be emergencies, were downgraded to normal, unrushed, non-crisis medical treatments.

Senior nurse Tiffany trains staff in emergency procedures.


The Luke Commission has 24-hour on-call team consisting of a doctor, nurse, and medical assistant. Qualified staff members take turns covering these positions.

One of the TLC vehicles has been converted to an ambulance. When another hospital facility is required, patients can be transported to hospitals in Manzini, 30 minutes away, or in Mbabane, a 45-minute drive. Most patients remain on the Miracle Campus for treatment, however.

This grandmother needs a little help to get from here to there. TLC staff is glad to help.

“We diagnose and refer when we feel it’s best,” said Rebekah. Recently, a patient with appendicitis was transferred, as was a man with meningitis.

The Luke Commission’s gate area always has patients who will be seen today. But the pace of treatment escalates when a patient is in obvious distress.

Ladies who are ready to have their babies also are driven to the hospital.

However, pre-natal treatment and accompanying expectant mothers to labor and delivery has become more defined at The Luke Commission, after a staff member’s baby died in the birthing process.

TLC staff member documents the immediate needs of a patient at the gate.

“It could have had a different outcome,” said Echo VanderWal, managing executive director. “We felt terrible for that mother, and determined that in the future we would intervene and support and follow expectant mothers through the birthing process.”

A frightened, sick youngster is attended by a compassionate team member.

Smiled Rebekah: “Occasionally, we have to deliver the babies along the way.” She had to do that recently, calling on her expertise when she was a labor and delivery nurse for five years in the United States. Now she trains other nurses.

During recent months, four persons were treated for suspected snakebites. TLC keeps anti-venom at the Miracle Campus, which is made available to any medical facility in need in Eswatini.

Barely able to walk down the road to The Luke Commission, this man is greeted with a wheelchair and a smile.

One man brought his wife to the gate in a diabetic coma. “I did not think she would live,” Rebekah remembered, “but with constant care, she was able to go home in a few days.”

Mothers receive pre-natal and post-natal care at TLC, as well as being closely monitored when they give birth.

Other emergencies that The Luke Commission tackles on the Miracle Campus are pneumonia and tuberculosis, often associated with HIV. Infections from HIV can also cause meningitis and sepsis.

Some patients die on the Miracle Campus. Before that an emergent Code Blue is orchestrated. “We get as close as we can to being an ICU for HIV treatment failure and other emergencies, when there is not time to transfer the patient or there are not ICU beds available,” explained Rebekah.

Emergencies require difficult decision made quickly, as senior nurse Rebekah and her teammate know.

Medical staff and counselors are trained to minister to the families of chronically sick or deceased patients.

Noted Rebekah: “I’m so thankful that The Luke Commission team from cleaners to medical assistants to kitchen staff to doctors and nurses treat our patients with compassion, whether they’re in the midst of a frightening experience from an accident or the ultimate experience of passing from this life to the next.”

Most emergencies happen after the sun sets. The Luke Commission is ready with a 24-hour-a-day on-call team.

Medical emergencies happen quite frequently on the Miracle Campus. It’s all part of the comprehensive, compassionate care The Luke Commission has become known for in Eswatini.

(by Janet Tuinstra)