Liberia’s First Ambulance: Montreal to Vancouver

What do you get when two buddies team up KBNF, Diamond Delivery, Operation Nicaragua and Compassionate Resource Warehouse? One cold winter's drive, a yellow ambulance, and the first ambulance in Liberian history. David and Rick drove across Canada to deliver the ambulance to British Columbia, for packing and preparing for its' container shipment to Liberia.

Stay tuned for the next part of Patrick the Ambulance's travels to its' new home.

Part 2: Patrick? What's in a name. 


A New Container Delivered for Liberia!

We worked ourselves to the bone to send another container to Liberia, West Africa, and it is so amazing to know that the container has arrived!

Dr. James A. Sobboh, the acting CEO/Medical Director of Jackson F. Doe Hospital (the first hospital in Liberia to offer Neurosurgery, and our first hospital in Liberia with our ground breaking 2014 medical mission) sent us a wonderful letter:

Dear all,

The container from Canada arrived last weekend and was offloaded. I am attaching photos and as items are deployed, I will send more photos. I want to thank Marj and all of our friends in Vancouver for giving their time and finances to make this possible. This is like a Christmas gift to us. Thanks.

James

We are so grateful for these wonderful pictures showing the container in Liberia. Merry Christmas, Jackson F. Doe, and a Merry Christmas to all our donors, Barn Be Volunteers, Compassionate Resource Warehouse and Diamond Delivery for making the container possible! 


Nine Patients Receive Neurosurgery in Liberia

Neurosurgery in Liberia (2017)

This Spring, KBNF was in Ghana and Liberia on another ground-shaking Neurosurgery Medical Mission. Our team of 9 joined medical professionals in Accra & Techiman, Ghana and Tappita, Liberia over a month-long mission. We'll be breaking down the successes of our time over the next few weeks and wanted to start with Dr. Paul King's work in Neurosurgery.

 

Dr. King conducted neurosurgery for 9 patients in 10 days in Tappita Liberia's Jackson F. Doe Memorial Hospital, assisted by medical professionals from Canada, the United States, Nigeria and Liberia. He evaluated and mentored two neurosurgery residents from Liberia and Nigeria and is encouraged by the progress of these West African surgeons. Dr. King and KBNF are prepared to work closely with these progressive doctors as they develop neurosurgery in their own countries. It is wonderfully encouraging to be able to mentor and teach neurosurgery residents in West Africa, and help them as they expand service for their nations and partner with each other.  

Patients ranged from 3 weeks to 44 years old, male and female, and included surgeries from cyst & tumour removal, shunts, burrhole drainage & decompression laminectomy. This is the second series of neurosurgeries KBNF has undergone in Liberia, since 2014. KBNF continues to support the advent of Neurosurgery in Liberia by partnering with Liberia's first neurosurgeon, shipping valuable equipment and supplies, and supporting Dr. Nah Doe's skill development over the course of the years.

Dr. Laurence Sherman, Dr. Francis Kateh, Dr. Alvin Nah Doe

Image Above: (Left to Right) Dr. Laurence Sherman, Chief Administrator, Jackson F. Doe Memorial Hospital; Dr. Francis Kateh, Deputy Minister of Health, Liberia; Dr. Alvin Nah Doe, Liberia's first Neurosurgery Resident

Next Post: The citizens of Tappita learn Heart Power & help develop the Liberian Prosthetics Clinic.


Tetteh Quarshie Memorial Hospital Palliative Container

Palliative Care Unit in Tetteh Quarshie

The Tetteh Quarshie Memorial Hospital (T.Q.M.H.) was built and commissioned by the government of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah in February 1961 in honour and memory of the late Tetteh Quarshie, a son of Mampong and pioneer of the Cocoa industry in Ghana. The hospital is sited on a hill on the south side of the National N4 highway route from Accra to Koforidua, Nkawkaw and Kumasi. It comprises several buildings with paved roads. A tour revealed the need unit to unit for equipment, stretchers, beds, and supplies. The 123-bed hospital serves a population of over 120,000 people spanning the entire semi-urban Akuapem Ridge, its rural valley and beyond, in Akropong, in the eastern region of Ghana (in the hills north of Accra). The hospital provides Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pediatrics, Surgery, Medicine, Ophthalmology, Ear Nose Throat, Psychiatry and Dentistry. Consequently, the hospital handles general diseases such as malaria, anaemia, respiratory diseases, hernia, fractures, pregnancy and related diseases and gynaecological diseases (Wikipedia).

They launched the first palliative care unit spring 2016, securing the support of KBNF and Share the Care.

Champion: Dr Mawuli Gyakobo is the Medical Director of the hospital while 5 – 7 doctors serve this hospital.

Team Outcomes

We had an enthusiastic visit with the Medical Director, Dr Mawuli Gyakobo, hospital administration and staff. His passion for his people is palpable. Appreciation for the Share the Care committee and KBNF / CRW was very evident. A tour was conducted of the newly renovated palliative care unit. Private rooms + a nursing station + a conference room are ready. The 1 palliative patient hospitalized was stationed on another unit. When more patients are requiring palliative care, the unit would be fully operational.

The container shipment was well received. Having only been received 2 weeks earlier, many of the items were already distributed while many more were housed in storage waiting placement. Our team was actually quite amazed how organized they were. The Chief Administrator held a handover celebration. He shared how grateful they are for our container and how valuable the contents are. So many times, when they receive donations, they are not consulted in advance and the items are not suitable. When the container doors were opened, they knew immediately that this was very different, that the contents were of excellent quality and very necessary for their hospital.
Because of the generous donation by a KBNF Founding Director, whose family has been served by this hospital for over a hundred years, we were able to announce that a large portion of another container has been funded.


VCH Features KBNF President Marj Ratel

“In neuroscience nursing, a nurse’s skills and intuition are critical to the wellbeing of our patient population,” says Marjorie, registered nurse at Vancouver General Hospital’s neurosciences unit. “In most disciplines, a patient can advocate for themselves. For example, a baby can wail, a patient experiencing chest pain can cry out. However, in the neuroscience population when a patient is deteriorating, they are dependent on the observational skills and actions of the primary caregivers. They have lost the ability to advocate for themselves. Often, a neuro nurse is required to use their 6th sense in determining a patient is in trouble. ‘Something just doesn’t feel right.’ Narrowing down the cause and proactively informing the physicians may prevent permanent disability or worse. Early detection can be the difference between life and death, returning home fully recovered or transferring to rehabilitation or longterm care.” In addition to her busy life as a neuro nurse, Marjorie also finds time to operate a charitable organization named, “Korle-Bu Neuroscience Foundation.” In February 2000, while working in the NICU in an educator capacity, a West African neurosurgeon approached her and asked if she would consider traveling to Ghana in order to train his nurses. The outcome: 16+ years of VGH and BC Health Authorities participation in supporting some of the most vulnerable regions in West Africa. Providing hospital equipment, beds, recycled consumables, educational support, surgical and medical expertise – Marjorie has made it her mission to balance the scales in favour of care. She recalls, “during the Ebola outbreak, our international team of neurosurgeons, nurses, RTs and biomedical engineer conducted neurosurgery on 20 patients in the eastern jungle of Liberia. Lives were transformed, tumours were extracted and lives restored. During Ebola’s height, hundreds of hospital beds along with humanitarian aid were shipped over to this most vulnerable region. They felt like someone truly cared, something that had been almost extinguished. It brought hope that a new day would dawn. The Liberian Minister of Health visited VGH post Ebola to give official thanks.”

A post shared by Vancouver Coastal Health (@vchcareers) on


Fall 2016 Medical Mission Nursing News

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Our Fall Mission began with the arrival of Karen Currie, RN, in Ghana on November 6th 2016. Dianne Perry, RN BSN, a recently retired Canadian nursing educator, with expertise in various specialties including surgery, obstetrics and tropical diseases, joined Karen from Europe. Dell highly recommended Dianne and KBNF was able to facilitate her Ghana Visa via Italy.

After a 2 day stay in Accra, they travelled to Techiman by air. Karen and Dianne discovered a kindred spirit. Dianne’s influence was immediate, as she commenced her day on the nursing units at 05.30 hrs. Working alongside the nurses, Dianne taught them in groups of 2s and 3s in short sprints. She was urgently called to the OR one night to help deliver a baby via C- section. Mom and baby were in crisis and it was thought that the baby would not survive. However, both mom and babe did fine, much to everyone’s relief. Triplets were born and are doing fine, coming in for regular weekly checkups. Dianne’s impact was well noted and she reports she will be pleased to return for future missions.

Hazardous nursing practises were addressed and corrected. Some of these practises we have tried to correct in the past, but were observed to have resumed. Having the by-in of various nursing leaders helped to make this transition more effective. Providing an alternative that made sense to the nurses seemed to have the desired effect. Reinforcement was necessary and will continue to be so. Another decision solidified by Dr. Kessie to enhance nursing care is that the TV perched by the nursing station would be relocated to the maternity unit. Nightshift breaks are being monitored closely and have improved.

The nursing administrators, Thomas and Robert are motivated and understand the need to advance the nursing department. They partnered closely with Karen and Dianne throughout their stay, very grateful for all the expertise. They look forward to visiting Vancouver for an educational experience.

Want to hear more of what KBNF is doing in Techiman? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for by-the-second updates!

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Update on Erica, Liberia’s Neurosurgical First

Erica’s Update: Change takes a Champion

Dear friends, in 2014 Korle-Bu Neuroscience Foundation went to Liberia for our first Liberian Neurosurgical Medical Mission. We went at the invitation of Dr. Francis Kateh, then the CEO of Jackson F. Doe Memorial Referral Hospital, now Deputy Minister of Health. Our team of volunteer nurses, surgeons and support staff came from Canada, America and Nigeria to give Erica the chance of a lifetime.

Because of her plea, many more Liberians were able to get the vital Neurosurgery they needed. While we were there, Ebola broke out. We soldiered on, and when we got back to Canada, KBNF asked Dr. Kateh (then in charge of Liberia's medical response to Ebola) what Liberia needed most to fight Ebola. We sent over eight containers of medical supplies, beds and support items to help sustain and rebuild Liberia's shattered health care system during, and after the Ebola Pandemic.

It began with Erica, a brave young woman who refused to die because of where she was born. Her courage and dedication to see it through has changed the face of her entire country's medical future. KBNF will continue to support Liberia, to provide education and training to neurological & neurosurgical staff, to enhance safe surgical practices and help grow health care until Liberia no longer needs the support.

Who is your Erica? Where are they from? This holiday season, give for the people like Erica, who are desperate for surgeries, which will bring them back to wholeness so they too can spend their lives improving their countries and loving their families.

Thank you.


2016 Spring Medical Mission Retrospective I:Geneva – G4 Alliance

KBNF President Marj Ratel with Arbutus Medical

KBNF President Marj Ratel with Arbutus Medical

The first leg of the Spring Mission commenced May 21st. Marj Ratel and foundation partner Dr. John Sampson (representing Johns Hopkins Medicine) attended the G4 Alliance Summit in Geneva, Switzerland. Sponsored by General Electric Foundation and Safe Surgery 2030, the 3 day event was held at the Intercontinental Hotel and Conference Centre, across the street from the UN and WHO. A 5 star facility, many of the participants including us stayed in alternative more cost effective accommodation across the city. Daily accommodation costs increased significantly the closer to the annual World Health Assembly meetings. The advantage of the location and time is that meetings with country representatives from Africa and around the world are possible.

Dr. Neil Parsan & Marj Ratel

Dr. Neil Parsan & Marj Ratel

G4 Alliance

History

The Global Alliance for Surgical, Obstetric, Trauma and Anaesthesia Care (the ‘G4 Alliance’) was formally launched at an event in Geneva attended by government ministers, health advocates and medical specialists in May 2015. The aim of the G4 Alliance is to advocate for the neglected surgical patient, to highlight the vital role of surgical care in averting premature death and significant morbidity from maternal health issues or complications of injury, and to integrate surgical care with existing public health frameworks in a collaborative and mutually beneficial way.

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Five billion people around the world are unable to access safe, affordable surgical and anesthesia care when needed, according to the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery report (publicly endorsed by KBNF when released). Out of the 313 procedures performed each year, only 6% are done for the poorest third of the world’s population. For road traffic injury victims, lack of emergency trauma care, safe surgical facilities or rehabilitation services can seriously exacerbate the impact and severity of injuries, while failure to provide care during the ‘Golden Hour’ after a crash often proves fatal. The Lancet Commission’s report argues that “surgery has proven to be a very cost-effective intervention, and failure to treat surgical conditions threatens to significantly compromise the economic productivity of countries. Widespread integration and scale-up of surgical care around the world is necessary to reach new targets for Universal Health Coverage, the Sustainable Development Goals and creation of resilient health systems.”

Marj Ratel & Executive Director Brendan Allen

Marj Ratel & Executive Director Brendan Allen

Responding to the efforts of the G4 Alliance over recent months, as well as to other advocates, health ministers at the World Health Assembly approved Resolution 68/31 on 22 May 2015 which included a call to “identify and prioritize a core set of emergency and essential surgery and anaesthesia services at the primary health care and first referral hospital level, and to develop methods & financing systems for making quality, safe, effective and affordable emergency and essential surgical care and anaesthesia services accessible to all who need it”.

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Stay tuned for more to come!
Marj