A small scandal broke out on the compound this morning when someone let it slip that the surgical team had air conditioners in their residence. I thought the rest of us staying at the beautiful Nim House took the news quite well, until one of the surgeons complained he was a little chilly when he woke up this morning.
The mobile team set off for our first village clinic at 7:00 am. This journey along the narrow dirt road was such a stark reminder of how difficult life must be for rural Ghanaians. We passed women carrying large buckets of water and batches of firewood on their heads, farmers toiling by hand in the hot sun, and children carrying swaddled babies on their backs. We also saw many signs of hope and development along this road as we passed new bridges, school yards full of children, community wells, community latrines and more and more tin roofs as opposed to thatched roofs. NEA’s handprint is everywhere.
A delegation of first time team members joined me to greet the Chief, Queen Mother and elders of the village, but we collectively decided to keep the ceremony brief as the crowd was so large. The NEA team left the compound at 4:00 am this morning and had the entire clinic set up and ready to go so that we could begin work immediately.
A clinic of this magnitude is only possible due to the amazing team of translators and operations volunteers. Our translators wear blue shirts and they are with us during every moment of the day. Our operations volunteers wear yellow shirts and they manage the crowds and stand at every door of every classroom and circulate throughout all areas of the clinic to help control and direct the flow of patients. Our sea of yellow, blue and white shirts worked side by side all day long as we cared for each patient, one at a time, even as the thermometer peaked at over 40 degrees.
One of our sickest patients today was a precious little three year old with severe malaria. Nurse Karen brought her directly to our nursing station from diagnostics where Jessica, Lauretta, and Val attended to her all afternoon. She made a miraculous recovery, munching on a snack as she left the clinic. The dentists were busy all day and had one case that was so difficult that it required all three of them to work together.
Back on the compound, the surgical team had a full day in theatres and were not slowed down by a small flood caused by one of the sterilizers. Rita, one of our Ghanaian nurses who is training with the team, proudly did her first solo assist with Dr. Magdi.
During dinner this evening, a man who was awaiting surgery on Thursday, developed a strangulation of his hernia. The team didn’t think twice about leaving their plates of food unfinished as every moment counts in this situation. Thankfully, the team was quickly able to sedate the man and successfully reduce the hernia. Our two students Josh and Elsa, together with Dr. Mensah, were able to witness this life-saving procedure. For those of you who are not aware, Dr. Mensah’s father and grandfather lost their lives at a young age due to this very condition, so this was a profound moment indeed.
Thanks to our supporters for their wonderful comments that are read to us by Kim at the end of every day. We laugh and cry, and feel so connected to home when we hear from you.
Dr. Jennifer Wilson, MD, CCFP(EM), FCFP, DIMPH