One of the most persistent problems I faced as the CEO of a mission hospital was theft. Being a charity hospital we relied heavily on donations, and could hardly afford to have precious donations stolen. I ended up putting out a directive that theft of hospital property would result in termination of employment. Not warnings, or reprimands, or suspensions, but immediate termination. That policy worked well for the most part. Staff who were caught stealing were indeed terminated. Patients who were caught stealing were compelled to find another provider for their future healthcare needs.
However, there was one instance of theft that we could not solve—that of operating theatre instruments. All kinds of instruments were disappearing—German precision scalpels, scissors, clamps, etc. These items were all stainless steel – enabling them to be cleaned, sterilized and reused. Even if we had the money, we couldn’t buy this quality within the country. That also reflected the fact that these items could be readily resold on the black market by the person stealing them. The thief had to be discovered. We exhausted all foreseen avenues of finding out who was stealing these items, much less recovering any of them.
Our home was about 50 yards or so from the outer wall of the operating theatre. So every time I walked by the operating theatre I wondered who the thief was. Walking home for lunch one day, out of the corner of my eye I caught some movement above me. Looking up I spotted a monkey tight roping across the campus phone line that ran from the hospital to our home. He quickly entered our house through a small open window in the loft, an attic area used in the past by resident housekeepers, but vacant for quite a while.
After entering our home, I made a beeline for the ladder leading up to the loft. Upon opening the loft door I was greeted by a gleaming pile of stainless steel instruments – and a monkey who wasn’t too happy at having been busted.
That money taught me the folly of jumping to conclusions. We have a propensity to size things up and draw conclusions. But we should do so in knowing that things aren’t always as they seem and maybe, just maybe, we may be wrong.
Roy and his family served as missionaries at Scheer Memorial Hospital, Banepa, Nepal from 2001-2006. (Fylvia is now part of the VividFaith team)