Credit goes to Lisa Bowers, RN for this wonderful series of daily diary entries from our medical mission October 2016. I've added a few photos. I hope you enjoy stepping into our world for a little while! If you'd like to experience Ghana while truly helping people in need, join us for a humanitarian mission. Healthy Villages, Inc. will organize every aspect of your mission and make sure you have a meaningful experience!
After months of planning and anticipation we are here. In Ghana. In Africa. Five RN's, 2 NP's, one husband (mine) and a wonderful couple from Ghana. We'd never met before but we all had hearts to serve. And we effortlessly molded into a working team where each one gave all they had and where we bonded in ways no one else could possibly understand.
This is our first day of clinic! We are going to do what we came here for--to help and treat those who otherwise can't afford medical care. After a restless and very warm night we are served an early breakfast of porridge served with peanuts, honey and raw sugar. Pretty yummy. We load the van and are on the road by 7 am. We travel about 40 minutes to the village of Yame-Lente. A clinic is being built in this community and when we arrive there is already over a 100 people waiting under a canopy that had been erected. One of the first people to greet us was a spiritual healer of the area that heard we would be there. He wore special beads around his arms and neck and was very friendly and answered a lot of our questions.
It takes a little while to set the clinic up so its 8:30 before we actually start seeing patients. Each patient signs in and receives a booklet with their name and age on it. Two of our nurses get their vital signs and record it in the book. They then went to triage where our nurses along with Vivian (a wonderful nurse/translator from the hospital we all fell in love with!) recorded their symptoms and they had malaria testing and blood sugar testing if warranted. They then saw Innocent or Philemon, or our PAs, Wendy and Jalil who decided what treatment and/or medicine they needed. With interpreters help they were given instructions and teaching and then sent to the pharmacy. Going by the instructions in the booklets the pharmacist (also from the hospital) would dispense the meds and instruct them on how to take them. We brought with us lots of donated OTC meds and we had sent money ahead for the pharmacists to buy meds they thought we would need.
The biggest complaint was headaches and "waist" pain which we discovered was low back pain. After seeing how everyone carries things on their heads and how they are always bending over to cook and work, it made sense. We dispensed a lot of Tylenol and ibuprofen! We had several test positive for malaria, saw multiple rashes and fungal type infections and hypertension galore. Jo quickly intervened on a child with asthma who was in acute respiratory distress. She even went with Joe Degley to the hospital to get inhalers and steroids for the girl.
We had a number of wounds including burns that were over a year old and still not healed. Significant burns! The fact that they still had functioning limbs in the face of little to no treatment verifies how resilient and hardy these people are! I felt real bad for an elderly gentleman who had a painful lesion on the bottom of his foot. He had stepped on a stick a few weeks earlier and it was obvious that something was still in his foot. I tried lancing the lesion thinking if I could at least get it to drain it would feel some better. I only had a pocketknife to work with and the skin was so leathery and tough I couldn't get deep enough due to the extreme pain. If we only had lidocaine and a scalpel! So we gave him an antibiotic and ibuprofen and strongly encouraged him to go to the hospital to have it checked out. He was really hurting when he left and I still wonder if he ever got help for it. We took a 35-40 minute lunch break when the ladies from our compound brought us food and then continued seeing patients until 3:30 when we had to call it quits. There was a bit of ruckus at that point when people started pushing and shoving to be the last ones seen and of course we still saw the few who insisted they must be seen.
Jo had discovered on her trip to the hospital that some places sold fans! The stand up oscillating type! So roommates went together and we talked Godfried into buying them for us. So while he did that (he said he'd have to pay more if the seller saw us white folks) we discovered a bar where they sold COLD beer, coke and Sprite. Yes!!!!! We arrived back at the compound exhausted and hot but thrilled that we were able to see 210 people. During and after dinner we were able to decompress by talking about our day and learning so much from Godfried about the life and customs of the people. We couldn't travel anywhere that someone wasn't waving or yelling at Godfried. He was such a respected member of that region. And the brown cool bucket shower felt good and hot air felt less so with the wonderful breeze from the fans!