Dr. John Sampson, President, DrUMM, KBNF’s American affiliate, and a team of experts travelled throughout Ghana to the nation’s Intensive Care Units (ICUs) in Tamale, Kumasi, Cape Coast, and Accra (37 Military and Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital). The team researched each ICU’s physical infrastructure; human, educational, equipment, and biomedical resources; health care delivery capabilities; and research partnership potential.
I learned that ventilators, while still in significant need, are more plentiful in the central and north region, particularly as valuable funding has arisen from football association sponsorships. For example, the Tamale Teaching Hospital’s ICU has eight fully functional 2009 model ventilators. Their intensivist, a Fundamental Critical Care Course graduate and instructor candidate, is passionate about his life work and is eager to partner with DrUMM and KBNF in advancing their unit’s standards and protocols to full North American status. I learned that they have a visiting Ghanaian neurosurgeon that comes occasionally; unfortunately many tragically die because the basic neurosurgery to remove a subdural epidural hematoma, for example, is not available to them when they need it. It is my understanding that the Government of Ghana is planning construction of a new North American standard hospital to serve the north Ghana region as well as the neighbouring nations. KBNF Project Management is pleased to support this development in the months ahead.
Kumasi’s regional teaching hospital, Komfo Anokye, has two distinctive structural sections, old and new. I had the privilege of touring Komfo Anokye’s newest hospital facilities, including the ICU and Burn Unit. It was gratifying to see quality IV pumps attached to the wall at each bedside and ventilators available for use. The unit contained a well organized and moderately stocked Code Cart, spaciousness around patient beds, quality nursing stations with central monitoring, ample supply and dirty service areas, and private rooms for all the burn and infectious patients. It was gratifying to observe the quality effort put into painting the units and hallways in pleasing patterns to lighten up the environment.
John and his team visited 37 Military Hospital’s ICU and learned that beyond their immediate ICU care delivery, they have a plan in place for a national disaster response with a unit at the ready with fully stocked beds and ventilators. A visit to the Cape Coast Hospital reinforced the eagerness of ICU directors and staff in Ghana of the desire for education and tangible support.
Spending time touring the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital’s (KBTH) Surgical Block ICU, OR and Neuro Unit, my 4th visit since 2002 revealed many urgent patient, staff, equipment, and biomedical resource needs. I had the opportunity to tour the neurosurgery unit and take photos for our project manager. It was gratifying to see our VGH beds in full use everywhere I looked. They appeared to be in good condition for the most part. The unit’s treatment room was nicely retiled. The plumbing is not working in many cases. Oxygen is available through wall apparatus. Unfortunately, suction equipment is in desperate need of repair. There was not one wall suction unit working in the Surgical Block nursing units while I was there. One portable suction was being shared among six floors and I believe that it was also malfunctioning. You can imagine that patients needing suctioning are at serious risk. We must help change this. Humidity and heat have been destructive. Rust and deterioration of windows and walls is palpable. Mosquito nets are now necessary over the paediatric beds. I learned that the resources for hospital maintenance have been insufficient and the administrators are working feverishly to restructure how they collaborate between services and units to maximize when and how support and funds are utilized.
Our team, along with Builders without Borders (Canada), is eager to partner with KBTH to renovate the entire neurosurgery floor. This would be the template of a North American standard nursing unit and hopefully be replicated throughout the building. It is anticipated that once the neurosurgery unit relocates to the new Emergency and Clinical Specialties Centre, the Surgical Block will continue to house patients for decades to come. There is a passionate desire by the staff to overcome these challenges. Amplified funding support along with interdepartmental and international collaboration is critically needed and is an area that KBNF can help KBTH develop.