Marj’s visit to Ghana in late November 2012 got Jocelyne and me involved in a flurry of fruitful ventures. Notable among them was our visit to Techiman and Nsawkaw, two towns located in the upper section of Ghana. The visit was upon the invitation of Dr. Kessie, a great volunteer who had been the proud recipient of a container full of medical equipment from KBNF on the behalf of the Nsawkaw government hospital.
Dr. Kessie, who hosted us, drove us to the Nsawkaw hospital for a firsthand look at how the beds and other donations from KBNF had been utilized. Apart from a few broken beds, most of the equipment was still in use in the hospital. The hospital had also generously donated some of beds to another needy hospital close by.
We had the opportunity of visiting Dr. Kessie’s private hospital as well as his new 100-bed hospital, which is at the final stages of completion. Jocelyne and Marj gave him some general insight about the structure as well as how to get the community behind him in support of his efforts.
Much as he is running a private hospital, its apparent he is also running a charity given the endemic nature of poverty in the area and the high demand for health care. He however serves his community with his heart, and that has greatly endeared him to the people. It is most probable that his new 100-bed hospital might turn out to be the toast of the area in the near future, provided he implements some of the good counsel Marj and Jocelyne have graciously offered him.
Nonetheless, there remains many avenues to touch the heart of the community through generous support to hospitals in that area. It is in the light of this that Dr. Kessie appreciated the suggestion to ship a container of medical supplies to his hospital. He willingly agreed to find the resources to pay for the shipping costs and clear them on arrival in Ghana.
One feature of the visit was a three-hour teaching session of two groups of students in care giving from Dr. Kessie’s school. They received insights into radiology, life-saving basics in health care and some of Danny’s Heart Power lessons. I am convinced that they will long remember their encounter with the two Canadian ladies and a gentleman from KBNF, as much as we ourselves will cherish that memorable visit.
Two weeks ago, Jocelyne Lapointe, Samuel Ampen-Asare, and I headed up to Techiman, a city of 5,000 in the Brong Afahu region, in the interior of Ghana. We flew up to Kumasi, then headed north, a two to three hour drive along a beautifully paved road. I noticed groups of people, mostly women, gathering up garbage in piles along the roadsides along the way. I learned that the government has a program to deal with garbage, paying citizens a small amount to retrieve the trash.
Arriving in Techiman, we were met by Dr. Gladstone Kessie, medical director of Mount of Olives Hospital. Gladstone was the medical director of Nsawkaw Hospital in Tain District, when KBNF sent in a container shipment of equipment and supplies four years ago. Currently, Gladstone is managing to deliver basic care to many patients in the district from a dilapidated facility and aged equipment. They have a simple operating room, and a nurse anesthetist provides support one-day a week. Their facility is simply overflowing with outpatients while they house approximately 30 patients in cramped quarters. They have a simple lab, a pharmacy, and a very organized medical records department.
Gladstone took us to the new 100-bed Mount of Olives Hospital under construction and expected to be ready for patients March 2013. It is very impressive. It will house two operating rooms and two floors of patient rooms, with bathrooms and showers in each room. A dental clinic, conference rooms and apartments for visiting medical mission teams are housed on the 3rd floor. A separate facility will be constructed on the property for kitchen and catering services, as well as toilet facilities for the community. Dr. Kessie and his wife are undertaking this project, funding it independently. His passion for his people is quite simply palpable. KBNF will be pleased to partner with his hospital in providing a container shipment of hospital equipment and supplies, along with teaching, training and medical mission support.
Gladstone runs an ultrasound clinic in Wenchi that provides service to the community. It also offers free ultrasounds for the district’s pregnant mothers. He explains that this advocates for their unborn children; otherwise, many mothers would not receive the prenatal care they need.
Mount of Olives Hospital houses a school for caregivers. Many of these students are hoping to become nurses someday and this is their entry option into the field. Jocelyne, Samuel and I taught two classes of approximately 30 – 40 students over the course of four hours. What is becoming so very clear is that we can teach skill, but without compassion and caring, it is practically worthless. In my visits with nursing and hospital administrators everywhere, from Sierra Leone to Liberia to Military 57 to KBTH to the UK, they are all saying the same thing, that many nurses are missing a critical ingredient: HEART. We’re hearing how so many nurses are focused on the job as employment and not as delivering health care.
Please click here to see images of the mission.
Two KBNF Board Members, Dr. Paul King (a neurosurgeon from Atlanta) and I (a neuroradiologist currently working at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital), gave presentations at the weeklong 2nd Annual Medical Knowledge Fiesta in Accra in August 2012, held at the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons. It is the largest medical meeting held in Ghana, apart from the annual meeting of the West African College of Surgeons, which is held in Ghana about every six years – the last time in 2006. A brief report details some of its activities: Medical Knowledge Fiesta 2012.
KBNF also held a two-day neuroscience conference at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in June and provided staff and medical students of the John F Kennedy Memorial Center in Monrovia, Liberia with 1.5 days of presentations the previous week. The aim of all these presentations is to increase knowledge about neurological conditions and their management among health care workers, in order to improve the level of recovery of patients.
We are always so pleased to hear of university students eager to support our neuroscience projects in West African. Our University of Victoria students are raising interest and awareness on behalf of KBNF. Join Bernard Osei, President of KBNC, and our KBNF family in extending a big congratulations to our dear students for all these wonderful developments!
We are on a pillow making journey, as Jocelyne and I prepare to begin teaching KBTH nurses in the med-surg and trauma units the critical importance of nursing care. Topics include Neurovital Sign Assessment, Communication is the Key, Pillow Talk, Stroke Teaching and Basic Patient Care is Not Basic, It is Life Saving. The need to reposition patients faithfully every two – three hours and ensure excellent hygiene are areas that all nurses worldwide must deliver. Research supports that good oral care equals an average reduced stay in hospital of five days! Why? Bacteria from gums and mouths can facilitate pneumonias, brain abscesses, lung abscesses, heart value destruction, etc. Oral care saves lives!
I firmly believe that a picture is worth a 1,000 words! It sure is for me. Consequently, Jocelyne will be illustrating brain scans to the nurses, enhancing the principles taught.
Pressure sores are another area that is entirely preventable and yet all too frequently encountered. Consequently, in order to prevent pressure areas, the resources are required. And one of the main resources is repositioning regularly using pillows. So we’re on a pillow and pillow cover hunt. My day tomorrow includes heading to town to meet with companies that sell waterproof fabric. The DON and I met with the KBTH seamstresses and covers will be sewn beginning next week, if we’re able to procure fabric. A KBTH stamp will be applied to each pillow cover.
A first KBNF meeting with Samuel Ampen-Asare took place this afternoon, as he begins his journey as a Board of Director. We have been invited by Dr. Gladstone Kessie to visit Nsawkaw and Techiman towns up in Northern Ghana. Nsawkaw is the town where we sent a container shipment in 2006 at the request of HE Dr. Margaret Amoakohene, previous Ghana High Commissioner to Canada. Jocelyne and I Googled the terrain and highway and discovered that it is very flat while many trees are in evidence. Dr. Kessie is now opening up a 100-bed hospital in Techiman and requests professional guidance.