Korle-Bu Foundation President’s Report (part 3)

Communications

Skilled communication at a cutting edge world class level requires professional expertise. Our board recognizes the critical need to capture the incredible story of KBNF as it unfolds. Credibility for our foundation internationally is vital to major donor base and networking developments. KBF is grateful to AHA, KBF PR firm, for their steady hand of leadership in communications and public relations. Ruth Aberley and Paul Holman recognize the critical elements required to progressively and effectively reach the masses. They manage our informative website www.kbnf.org, uploading insightful new material provided by members of our team including blogs, revisions, updates, notices, u-tube video and photos up to 5 days / week.

Analysis of our website productively is measured monthly. In all respects, the website is steadily accessed more frequently and repeatedly, and more pages are read and more donations given through the website than ever before. Principle readership comes from Canada, followed by the USA, Ghana and lastly the UK. We certainly look forward to our readership literally exploding in the year(s) to come.

Our facebook site www.facebook.com/KBNF.org was launched last July. It has a lively welcoming appearance. AHA manages the updates weekly and “likes” are slowly growing monthly. Wikipedia is planned for this spring and twitter is expected to be launched when resources are available.

Considering the economic climate, timing is everything and funding consultant hours is prudently managed. We express appreciation to Christina Chiu for taking on the Executive Assistant consultant role while volunteering many more hours than ever could be reimbursed financially. Taking on computer work with an expertise eluding the board saves us many hours that we can reallocate to other priority foundation work.

Christina handles all of our publication work, finding the most cost efficient publishers and most contemporary methods of disseminating foundation news. Christina manages the constant contact account and designs the newsletters and notices for Marj. Approximately 2,000 readers receive our mail. Response to our news on Patrick Ali, a Sierra Leonean struggling with quadriplegia struck a chord with many of our foundation friends and readers. It is reassuring that the percentage of recipients opening our mail is well beyond the average readership for most organizations.

Our brochure is now available on our website for individuals to copy and print, while an informative postcard is being designed from the brochure layout for cost effective handouts. Publication and mail out of newsletters along with a donation slip and return envelope continues to be a worthwhile fundraising strategy. Donor recognition and certificates are being planned. Personal phone calls to our donors and supporters over the years expressing our appreciation for their support are also another avenue that is considered a priority this year.


Thanks… and keep it coming!

Thanks . . . and keep it coming!

Morning family and friends! Thank you so very much for your financial support!  Every time Christina informs me that another donation has come in or I receive mail and there’s another cheque, my heart leaps for joy! We are well over half way there now with the funds needed to support the electricity needs for the outgoing hospital equipment to Ghana.  Keep it coming, friends! Every contribution brings us closer to sufficiently fulfilling this need.

For those that may have missed the previous emails, KBNF’s 18th container was fully loaded last Thursday and Friday in Victoria and will leave Vancouver’s harbor for Ghana early this week.

KBNF has been on a mission to provide the suitable power converters to support superb electrical tools, surgery equipment, hospital beds, machines and equipment being shipped over to Dr. Gladstone Kessie’s 100 bed Mt. Olives Hospital in Techiman, Brong Ahafo Region of northeastern Ghana. Ghana’s voltage is 220-240 Volts compared to Canada’s 110-120 Volts. We need a minimum of 20 electric power converters to ensure that the electrical equipment being sent can be effectively put to use. After some considerable team research, the suitable converters chosen have the capability to handle any 2 machines simultaneously.

In partnership with The Compassionate Warehouse, the 40 ft. container was chock-a-block with donated hospital supplies, furnishings and equipment including 20 wonderful electric / manual beds, with nary an inch of air allowed between anything. Brenda, Diane and I stood in awe as we watched Dell’s team pack the container like they were painting a masterpiece. It was a gift of exceptional planning, effort, and execution.

We are preparing a 2nd container for Mt. Olives in May, providing another load of excellent beds, dental equipment, and everything not ready to be loaded this time round including the converters.  I would be remiss if I didn’t express our appreciation to Diamond Delivery for their faithful diligence and promptness in picking up equipment and supplies from around Vancouver and delivering wherever Brenda informs them it has to go.

Sponsor a converter and save lives!

Just one example of how lives can be saved . . . Imagine a child struggling to breathe. Can you picture how desperately helpless the staff and family would feel when their loved one is choking and there’s no access to equipment? Suction machines are critical for basic patient safety. Electricity is required. Because of your partnership, we can address this issue.

WE NEED YOUR HELP. . .

 

Your support is what gives KBNF the ability to extend our hand in partnership with Ghana and West Africa.

Either on-line via our website: www.kbnf.org or by phone or mail.

Thank you everyone!


ANNUAL FUNDRAISING DINNER DANCE-GPSF

Below is a guest blog post by Leticia Otchere-Darko M.D., Director, Offsite Anesthesia Services, at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. KBNF Board of Director Paul King and I are sure looking forward to seeing everyone in the new year. This will, once again, be a great event.

 

An image from last year's fundraiser.

Ghana Physicians and Surgeons Foundation Annual Fundraising Dinner Dance

You are cordially invited to the annual fundraising dinner dance by the Ghana Physicians and Surgeons Foundation to be held on April 20th, 2013. This dinner dance immediately follows the 11th Annual Conference for Ghanaian Health Care Professionals which is sponsored by the Ghana Physicians and Surgeons Foundation. This event will take place in Atlanta from the 19th to 21st of April, 2013.

The theme is: “HIV and Cancer Disease Burden in Africa: A Tale of Two Epidemics.”

Venue: W Hotel Downtown, Atlanta.

For more information please visit www.ghanaphysicians.org.


Korle-Bu Neuroscience Club – Victoria

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!


Ghana Mission Post 11 – Patrick Update

Patrick had his plastic surgery on his infected pressure sores Friday afternoon. It required significant skills by the plastic and reconstructive surgeons. He is now receiving intravenous antibiotics. Patrick is convalescing on the 6th floor of the Surgical Block, and being cared for by very kind nurses. Megan is so very appreciative. And for all of your support, it is greatly appreciated. 


Ghana Mission Post 9 – November 2012

Patrick waves as he awaits plastic surgery on his pressure sores.

Dear KBNF family and friends,

I am writing this from the air conditioned Anatomy Department where I have been graciously given a wonderful office for KBNF work. The sun is beating down these days; thankfully, the breeze off the Gulf of Guinea and the occasional overcast skies bring sweet relief.

This visit has contained a wealth of developments already, and I feel like a horse, out of the gate at full speed with insufficient track to run before this visit’s finish line.

We have an urgent need . . .

My heart breaks for a dear couple that we were introduced to prior to my arrival in Ghana, Patrick and Megan, a Canadian young woman from Ontario. Patrick, a Sierra Leonean civil engineer, was minding his own business, driving along a Freetown street when a tree fell on his car, crushing the roof and dear Patrick. He sustained a serious C7 fracture and needed urgent neurosurgery intervention. There are no neurosurgeons in Sierra Leone. Not a one.

So, through heroic efforts and expense, Patrick was transferred to the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital where he underwent surgery and his neck stabilized. At the time of the impact, he lost the use of his limbs and has since presented with quadriplegia. He spent three weeks recovering in the neurosurgery unit followed by a continued stay at the Dean’s Guest House on campus. Patrick is currently attending physiotherapy daily as an outpatient.

Patrick’s strength and sensation are gradually returning. He has limited use of his arms and hands and now is able to support his torso for short periods of time with minimal support. Thankfully he can feel, albeit altered sensation, his entire body. Jocelyne Lapointe has reviewed his CT scans and MRI and believes that with quality rehabilitation, Patrick can recover. Sierra Leone has no rehabilitation unit. They don’t exist in West Africa to our knowledge. Jocelyne certainly sees the need for us to address this in the months to come.

Megan, his fiancée, has applied to the Canadian immigration department for a temporary visa for Patrick to come to Canada for expert rehabilitation, offered free of charge, but their application has been denied. So while considering alternative options, the best option at this moment, they believe, is for Patrick to stay in Ghana where he can receive physiotherapy.

Unfortunately, Patrick’s immediate grave challenge is not recovering his strength and function, but recovering from very grave pressure sores on his buttocks, right thigh and ankles. He has necrotic tissue impeding the healing process along with deep fissures surrounding the wounds. Since I arrived, I have been able to help Megan with nursing care issues, addressing wound care, repositioning techniques, changing his urinary catheter, accessing antibiotics, accessing hospital support and plastic surgery consultation. But this is only the beginning.

Friends, Patrick needs urgent plastic and reconstructive surgery and is scheduled for tomorrow. He needs financial support to help with all these expenses. Surgery is costly. He will need a special nurse to care for him postoperative. Then there’s dressings, antibiotics, meals, etc. Megan needs to return to Canada in two weeks and effort is being made to have a member of Patrick’s family come to stay with him. If you will send a donation on behalf of Patrick to KBNF, your investment could stabilize Patrick’s critical status and restore him to a quality recovery.

This is what’s KBNF is all about, folks. Building the infrastructure for contemporary neurosurgery care across the Sub-Sahara is our ultimate objective, so that West Africans throughout the region can receive expert and prompt care; however, today, we have a precious young man who needs your tangible support.

A few days ago, this couple was in the depths of despair, not knowing where to turn. With our help they are not alone. We are here for them. Join with us in helping Patrick and Megan. And please forward this message to those who you believe would also like to help.

Our address is 9131 207B. St. Langley, B.C. V1M 2P5. Address the cheque to Korle-Bu Foundation for tax receipt purposes, and identify on the memo line “for Patrick.” We will be sure to have it go to pay his care.

Please remember KBNF in your upcoming Christmas giving. Without your support, we are so very limited in what we can accomplish. With your support, we, together, can help Ghana bring transformation in the lives of West Africans and the generation to come.

Love to you all, Marj


Ghana Mission Post 8 – November 2012

Tuesday involved much effort in regards to Patrick. Through Prof Nii Otu Nartey we arranged that he be evaluated by the Chief of the Reconstructive Plastic Surgery and Burn Centre, Dr. Opoku Ware Ampomah. The plastics team has determined that Patrick will require surgery on his multiple pressure sores. Lab work has been ordered in preparation for surgery and he will be admitted to their department when a bed is available. Patrick met Mrs. Lydia Lutterodt, a KBTH Physiotherapist, and a relative of our Board of Director, Dr. Alfred Luttterodt. Lydia began to care for Patrick today.

I was encouraged to see how Patrick was able to hold up his torso, eventually with only one arm resting on my shoulder. It took him mammoth effort, but he was able to sustain his posture for around a minute. We are progressing on many fronts; however, this couple needs your support. Financial support designated for Patrick’s care and forwarded to KBNF will go to help with their critical expenses. I know that it will make all the difference in the world to this special couple.


 


Love Saves — Surgery Needed in Sierra Leone

Editor’s Note: This is the first blog post by Christina Chiu, Executive Assistant, at Korle-Bu Neuroscience Foundation.

 

Working at KBNF can be very unpredictable and definitely not boring.  One of my responsibilities at KBNF is to answer our 1-877-468-6380 number.  A couple weeks ago, I received a phone call from Sierra Leone regarding a man that was in a car accident and had fractures of the spine.

What do you do?  In Canada, we go to the hospital, get checked, and get operated on.  Our worries would be about pain, recovering, and possibly car insurance (#firstworldproblems).  In Sierra Leone, Patrick was brought to the hospital and got checked.  However, there was no neurosurgeon in the country to operate on Patrick.  That was when I got a phone call from his fiancé Megan.  What then followed was a series of difficult emails with what seemed like more heartbreaking news than good until this morning.  Megan was able to commercially fly Patrick out of Sierra Leone to Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, Ghana.

Megan writes:

Good evening from Korle-Bu, Accra!!

Patrick and I arrived Thursday evening after a long, rough journey from Freetown to Accra.  We set out from Choithram in an ambulance donated by the Sierra Leone Red Cross, under the guidance of Phillip, a very patience Red Cross ambulance driver. With Sierra Leone’s elections in the near future, and political parties rallying their troops, the streets were packed with supporters of the APC party for a pre-election rally. (A) Few were helpful enough to guide the ambulance through the crowds, as much of the route from Choithram to the ferry was crowded. We met the ferry in time to cross (the smoothest part of the journey) and meet the plane ready to depart. It was a relief for us all, most especially Patrick, to be leaving Sierra Leone for a place where health care infrastructure is more developed.

After the horrific roads and state of vehicles in Salone, we were delighted to be received by a well-equipped ambulance and experienced paramedic. We travelled a very smooth road quickly, getting to the hospital in good time and meeting Dr Akoto and his staff that would be caring for Patrick. Korle-Bu Hospital is a great change from Choithram; a massive facility with several departments and teaching facilities. He was welcomed to the neurosurgery ward, where he would be for the duration of his stay.  After a day of tests, scans and surgery preparation on Saturday, Dr Akoto showed me the MRI results, where I could clearly see the fractures of Patrick’s C7 vertebra, and explained the process that he would undergo in order to repair his spine. The following afternoon, Dr Akoto preformed surgery on Patrick’s neck. With Patrick under general anesthetic, he removed the broken bones from his neck and fixed a titanium plate to C6 and T1 in order to stabilize his neck. He also used the compressed bone fragments, supported by a titanium cage, to replace the fractured C6. I spoke with Dr Akoto after the operation and he spoke very positively about the way the procedure went.

This morning, I met Patrick — much more alert than post-operation! -feeling pain, but fairly calm. Since then, he was approved by the doctors to move from the ICU back to the regular ward. For now, he is resting fairly peacefully. In the next couple of days the doctor has told us that he would like to get Patrick into a wheelchair, so that he may begin to be upright. Patrick is very excited for a speedy recovery and is visualizing himself walking very soon.

Thank you to everyone that is supporting us — in any way you are able!

I am delighted that Patrick was able to be flown to Ghana and receive the surgery he needed.  However, not everyone in Sierra Leone has a fiancé making phone calls to different countries trying to find a way to save them.

The reality is that health care services in West Africa need to improve; KBNF has already made an impact in advancing medical care in the region and we only plan on doing more.

Learn more about KBNF on our website under PROJECTS.