While there are countless heroic stories I could tell about the tremendous work of this team, I’d like to take a moment to tell you about a few heroes.
Ernestina is a medical assistant running a busy health centre with no doctor. She is in charge of a team of nurses and four midwives. She is on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Her only leave is when our team comes to Ghana and she joins us. When I ask her how she does it, how she manages to care for so much sickness, how she witnesses so much death, how she works with so few resources, her answer is always the same: “To care for the sick is the highest calling.” Sometimes, when I have a rough night in our ER at home or a busy week at work, I think of Ernestina, and my attitude changes instantly. Any physician on any of our Ghana Health teams over the past 8 years will tell you that everything they have learned about global health they have learned from Ernestina. She is our hero.
Eric is a nurse anaesthetist (the person who puts you to sleep when you have surgery). He and always on call for anaesthesia at his hospital, day and night. There is no physician anaesthetist. He is a conscientious young man who always wants to do better. Eric arrived yesterday to work along side Dr. Tony (our physician anaesthetist) and Susan (our anaesthetic assistant). This morning at breakfast he told me that he learned more in one day with Dr. Tony than he could have learned in one year. Eric is our hero.
Alexandria is a nurse from Wenchi. I got to know her last November when Susan and I helped to train her, along with 29 other midwives, in newborn resuscitation. Yesterday, she proudly told me that she is setting up her resuscitation equipment at every single delivery she attends, even if it is in a hut. She told me about all the babies she has saved due to her training. She now wants to become a master trainer so that she can teach other these skills. Building capacity is a key objective of NEA’s work. Alexandria is our hero.
Letichia. Letichia is the lead nurse in Nyamboi village. There is never a doctor there. She handles everything. Her biggest challenge right now is that there is no light in the delivery room. At night, she is finding it difficult to hold the flashlight and deliver the baby at the same time. I have a feeling she may soon be the owner of a number of fancy MEC headlamps that most of our team uses to work each day. Providing resources and support to our Ghanaian colleagues is so important to us. Letichia is our hero.
And then there is Dr. David. David was sponsored to go to medical school by NEA and is their first graduate. This brand new physician is just soaking in every moment of this opportunity to work alongside our very experienced physicians and surgeons. He is teaching us so much about the health care system here. He is the future of health care delivery in this area. This mutual exchange of learning and transfer of skills is rich. Dr. David is our hero.
Ghanaian health professionals like Ernestina, Eric, Letichia, Alexandria and Dr. David are the true heroes. They are the dedicated health professionals who do their jobs with compassion and excellence in the face of obstacles that sometimes seem insurmountable. And they do this work every day of every month of every year. Working alongside them, learning from one another, deepening our relationships with them, and supporting them with resources are the key reasons why we are here.
And this will be the model of the Carpenter hospital. It will be a hospital run by the best Ghanaian health professionals in Ghana, supported by people like us. There are so many layers to NEA’s plan to bring health care to Northern Ghana. I speak on behalf of every single team member when I say that it a great privilege for us to be called upon by NEA to be here and to be part of the process of moving towards sustainable health care for all.
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