Brenda and her volunteers had an energized day sorting and packing medical supplies for the upcoming shipments to Mt. Olives Hospital, Techiman, Brong-Ahafo Region, in the interior of northern Ghana and Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.
For eight hours, you could hear much laughter, cheerful banter and questions hurled as the team determined what donated items in fact were, which were suitable for sending, and where on earth is that box that is being packed with lab supplies, respiratory supplies and/or any other supplies. Oh, is the box already sealed containing x, y, z? Lots of fun and patience as our volunteers took up the cause in earnest, determined to meet Brenda’s goal of having all the supplies packed by day’s end.
Lunch was also scrumptious, even though there were no chairs to sit on. Come to think of it, we never sat the entire day! But everyone devoured meat wraps, turkey croissant sandwiches, veggies, apples, and organic coffee with pleasure. The coffee pot malfunctioned, so I made coffee at the nursing unit and could be seen walking through the hospital carrying a pot of coffee on more than one occasion!!
TOYS . . . I observed a little boy playing with Coke bottle caps at a hospital one day, his only toy. Talking with another Ghanaian young man, he recalled how his only toy growing up was a ball handmade with pieces of tape carefully peeled off of boxes mailed to his village. Eventually it was the size of a baseball. So considering how hospitalized children just don’t have anything to play with, I put out a call for toys and books. So a BIG thank you to VGH Neurologist Dr. Tony Traboulsee and his family, as they arrived with a carload of toys and books for the Mt. Olives Hospital in the afternoon. A battery powered train set and a large mauve plastic princess house will grace the playroom of Mt. Olives pediatric unit very soon. Dr. Gladstone Kessie is already very excited by this development.
Aaron Asante, one of our founding KBNF members, also completed loading up hospital linens and a wheelchair destined for his hometown Ghanaian village clinic next week.
We could not achieve any of our objectives without the incredible support of our faithful volunteers and donors. Thank you everyone, for your wonderful labour of love.
Our next packing day is Feb 9th at the VGH old laundry unit. Please “ink” it into your calendar. Brenda and I need everyone on board, once again. Brenda is planning our next shipment for mid-month and we need to prepare the final packing of linens prior to shipping by barge to Victoria for its final loading before heading to Ghana.
Please click here to see additional photos from the folding party.
Patrick Ali, a 34-year-old Sierra Leonean engineer, came to our attention this past fall. Patrick had suffered a serious cervical spine injury when a tree collapsed on the car he was driving in Freetown, crushing his vertebrae. Simply no neurosurgery care is available in Sierra Leone or any neighbouring countries, and after discussion with KBNF, Patrick was transferred to Korle Bu Teaching Hospital within a couple of weeks. Neurosurgery to stabilize his neck was successful; however, with the significant time lapse, Patrick was challenged with quadriplegia. Through the remarkable efforts of Megan Boyles, Patrick’s loving Canadian fiancé, he attended physiotherapy daily. Strength was returning to his arms and sensation was also improving throughout his body. Unfortunately, pressure sores acquired during his convalescence seriously compromised his rehabilitation and Patrick returned to KBTH Surgical Block for reconstructive surgical intervention in mid-November. After a valiant struggle and much prayer, Patrick Ali quietly slipped away to be with his Lord on January 11th at 6:40 a.m.
Many thanks must go to Dr. Jocelyne Lapointe for her remarkable care for Patrick throughout much of his stay. Providing neuro-radiological expertise freely was wonderful. Also, when Patrick’s sister had to return to Sierra Leone, and Megan had to return to Canada, Jocelyne ensured that Patrick was not alone. Reports of her heading out to market to purchase games they could play together or picking up a foam mattress for him were only the tip of the iceberg. Jocelyne provided Megan precious support and ensured that all of Patrick’s hospital care, funeral and travel arrangements back to Sierra Leone were promptly taken care of.
Rev. Prof. Seth Ayettey, our KBNF senior counsellor, along with his daughter, Dr. Hannah Ayettey-Anie beautifully provided pastoral support for Patrick and Megan as well as the arrangements for all of Patrick’s care needs after passing away. Thank you. And for the administrators that provided hospital transportation and visited Patrick, as well as the nurses on Surgical 6 and for the Plastics and Reconstructive physicians, your concern and kindness was so very appreciated.
Appreciation also goes to KBNF Directors Samuel Ampen-Asare for his visits and to Dr. Alfred Lutterodt for his professional attention to Megan’s health needs. And finally, much appreciation is directed towards our KBNF family and friends here in North America, for your tender, loving care, as you gave financially to help with Patrick’s medical expenses and care. That support encouraged Patrick and Megan immeasurably. They were not alone.
In closing, Jocelyne shares: “Keep Patrick’s family and Megan in your prayers. Thank you to you all who have participated in Patrick’s physical and spiritual well being. I firmly believe that this sad experience will move KBNF in a direction that had not been anticipated at this stage, for the benefit of other West African patients like Patrick.”
I too pray that Patrick’s life will serve to inspire a lasting legacy for many years to come.
KBNF spearheaded a pillow and pillow cover search for patients at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital. We have observed that seldom do patients have pillows and repositioning is very challenging without them. As well, I noticed that patient’s comfort was often at risk. One intensive care patient I observed at Military 37 in June, was intubated and ventilated and yet he did not have a pillow to rest his head on. When a pillow was provided, I could literally see his shoulders relax and his breathing improve.
So why few to no pillows for patients? Apparently, KBTH had pillows long ago, however, with the advent of HIV Aids and when pillows became seriously soiled, they had to be discarded. As a result, families have been required to provide pillows. If there are no families or financial resources, the patient is left with no pillows.
Repositioning and preventing pressure sores is critical to a patient’s wellbeing, so I went on a crusade looking for a solution. Impermeable pillow covers for quality antiallergenic pillows would be the answer.
So while I was in Ghana this past November, Francis, my KBTH driver, along with Samuel Ampen-Asare and I, went on a pillow and pillow cover search. PolyTex Limited graciously donated 300 quality plastic pillow covers for the hospital. Ash-Foam Company then provided KBNF 100 pillows at a significant discount and donated another 50 for the patients at KBTH. KBTH stamped the pillows with their seal and the seamstresses sealed the pillow covers, so that the pillows will be permanently protected and the covers will only need to be wiped down.
The pillows were handed over to KBTH by Dr. Jocelyne Lapointe on December 21st – 60 pillows went to the Medical Block, 40 to the Surgical Block, 30 to the Accident Centre and 20 to the Surgical Medical Emergency. KBNF hopes to multiply the pillow supply many times over in the months and year ahead.
Well done everyone, and thank you for your financial support. The patients will be able to rest much easier now.
As 2012 comes to a close, KBNF saw the advent of our first neuro-specialist relocating to Ghana. Ghanaian Parliament approved the College of Health Sciences and Korle Bu Teaching Centre of Excellence Hospitals, a project initiated by KBNF. Reaching out upon an invitation, exploratory tours were conducted for the first time in Liberia and Sierra Leone. The Korle-Bu Neuroscience multinational medical team had the privilege this year of leading and participating in four neuroscience and medical teaching conferences, both in Ghana and as an inaugural event in Liberia. Visiting the Brong Ahafo region in the interior of Ghana revealed a physician passionate in his pursuit of excellence in health care delivery. A partnership has begun in earnest. Two more container shipments headed overseas to Ghana and Nigeria. KBTH patients received pillows and Patrick is being given life saving care.
Many in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana and Nigeria were encouraged this year by Danny Moe’s inspiring “Stars shine the brightest when the night is the darkest” DVD presentation. I encourage everyone to take the time to listen to this message, a gift to you all. (Here is a link to it.)
In conclusion, King George VI quoted from a poignant poem sent to him in a Christmas card from one of his subjects in 1939, that is engraved on the gates of the Memorial Chapel at Windsor Castle and was read at Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother’s state funeral, “I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year. Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.” And he replied, “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way!”
May 2013 be embarked upon with confidence – for us all, and as KBNF embraces opportunities given to us for fostering health and hope to the precious people of West Africa.
On behalf of the KBNF Board of Directors and family.
The past week has been a flurry of activity, most of which did not include access to the Internet.
The Shiashie Sunday school children and I spent another energized morning Sunday, sharing inspiring Bible stories and drawing pictures. The artistic skills of these children are, in many cases, simply astounding. And the attention to detail amazed me. Singing lustily the ABC Bible song, I realize that it is becoming a favourite. They certainly enjoyed looking at pictures of themselves on my laptop. I look forward to one more Sunday with them, and will be pleased to give them each a candy cane.
This week we received the 300 pillow covers, prepared and donated by Polytex Industries. This was their first effort in providing pillow protectors and did an excellent job. Many thanks to the Managing Director, Dayal Thawani and his nephew and Finance Comptroller, Sashi Kant.
Next, we headed to AshFoam, a local company manufacturing pillows, sheets, towels and mattresses. We met with the Managing Director, George Massih, a gracious man. He learned of KBNF and the need for pillows at KBTH. As a result, AshFoam donated 50 synthetic, anti-allergen pillows, and significantly reduced the cost of another 100 pillows, purchased by KBNF for the various hospital departments. Many thanks to George and his team!
The shrink wrapped pillows were transported to KBNF by van and taxi. Next came having each pillow stamped with the KBTH logo prior to permanently sealing with the pillow covers by the sewing department. Jocelyne, Sammy and Alfred Lutterodt will present to KBTH.
Thank you all for your financial support in this tangible way, supporting our West African patients.
Click here to see additional images from the mission.