He’d been suffering for four years with a surgical condition that was untreatable in Ghana. His family was beyond desperate when they arrived at Leyaata Hospital. Attempting this surgery at Leyaata was a difficult decision to make—it would require all of our collective surgical, anesthesia, and nursing resources for an entire day. Other patients would need to be postponed. Was it worth taking this risk and devoting many resources to one person?
When we came to Ghana to run our mission from 2007-2019, Dr. Kyle’s dental clinic was held under a mango tree while cattle grazed around him. Dr. Martin’s eye clinic was in a peanut storage facility in a cough-inducing, rash-producing sauna. Our emergency department was a classroom in a village school. Mr. Rob’s theatre was a multipurpose building on the NEA compound that became a surgical center once a year. We treasured every moment of those missions and their impact on the region while we collectively dreamed of sustainability.
Today, I stepped into Leyaata Dental Clinic. I saw Dr. Kyle, Dr. Garrett, and Leyaata’s dental professional, Ella, hard at work in their multi-room, air-conditioned facility with two beautiful dental suites with X-ray capability. Wasn’t it just yesterday that Garrett was a university student volunteer on our dental team? How is he now a qualified dentist at Leyaata, working alongside Kyle and Ella on a complex dental case that took the team two hours to complete?
Tears filled my eyes when I toured the Eye Clinic today, and goosebumps covered my sweaty arms. Dan (our Optometric Assistant up for promotion) toured me through the facility as our three optometrists, Dr. Martin, Dr. Stephen, and Dr. Josh, were consulting with patients. (So glad Stephen returned to work after being locked in the bathroom for an hour, unbeknownst to his teammates.) The rooms were full of state-of-the-art equipment, including the laser for glaucoma treatment and an electronic automated phoropter that was more sophisticated than anything I’ve seen in Canada. They had some technical/electrical challenges, but our busy Biomed Team of Daniel and Charles (who call each other “Boss”) handled it. Marion, the founder of our eye team in 2007, was hard at work with Prosper setting up the Leyaata Optical Shop — full of thousands of donated eyeglasses and sunglasses that are cataloged and entered into the Leyaata eyeglasses bank. I remember this team crawling out of the NEA peanut storage facility (otherwise fondly known as the “nut house”) at the end of their long, hot clinics for so many years. How is it that a few short years later, Leyaata is about to become an optical center of excellence?
Those who read my book Grant Us Tomorrow: A Medical Memoir by Wilson, Dr. Jennifer (amazon.ca) Blue Heron Books | Grant Us Tomorrow will know that our 11 Ghana Health Teams treated emergencies in school classrooms, gazebos, and roadsides. Today, I toured the ER where Dr. Carlye and our ER nurses Val, Jennifer, and Leslie are working tirelessly with the Leyaata ER team to help set up the physical building and then dive deep into Leyaata’s ER policies, procedures, and clinical pathways —offering their many years of ER experience to this young and keen Leyaata team. The place is incredible —organized storage rooms, a stocked and equipped trauma suite, a resuscitation room, a fracture clinic, and patient cubicles adorned with Leyaata curtains. The ER is ready to receive patients. I wonder what the next major emergency that rolls through those doors will be.
Our training programs continue with intensity. Monica and Jannine are now training the second cohort of LTEP students. Dr. Shmuel, with assistance from Dr. Carlye and our rehab team of Ellen and Jodi, has spent every evening teaching the medical staff how to manage and cast fractures. This evening, Dr. Shmuel invited our X-ray technician, Kelly, to present a short lecture on essential things to consider when choosing what X-ray to order. She did such an incredible job that we are booking her to deliver the same talk to our physicians at home!
Thursday, Dr. Anne and I launched our training in the maternity department. In February, we had the honour of teaching the midwifery team two courses on Helping Babies Breathe and Essential Care for Every Baby. Today, we are training them to teach these courses and have had the privilege of cheering them on as they begin teaching the courses to the four new Leyaata midwives. Chief Midwifery Officer Doris exclaimed, “Our crying and sorrow is over because the joy of a midwife is to save babies!” At one point, Dr.
Mensah and his brother Chief Joseph popped into our training and, with Anne and I sitting off to the side grinning (and maybe crying) like proud mothers, the midwifery team expertly ran a simulation on how they would save a baby who is not breathing at birth. Dr. David and Chief Joseph reflected on how many babies they have seen die for lack of this training. The midwifery team has a solid vision to take the training to the small community clinics and scale up across the region. How many babies and mothers will be saved through the efforts of Leyaata Hospital and these midwives?
This evening, our pharmacy team of Amanda, Linda, and Sherry (we call them Big Pharma) are educating the entire staff on the responsible use of antibiotics to combat the growing and deadly problem of antibiotic resistance. I’ve been reflecting on the hundreds of hockey bags of drugs we used to pack and bring to Ghana for our mission every year. Now, we walk into the stocked Leyaata pharmacy that is taking an important leadership role in this hospital and the region. Amanda, Sherry, and Linda dream of opening an outpatient pharmacy to serve the community and generate income for the hospital. I wonder when those doors will open its doors? How quickly could we pull together a fundraising campaign to build it?
Many of my reflections and questions were answered by Ernestina’s devotional Thursday morning, which she entitled “Against All Odds.” This dear woman, who has worked beside me since I stepped foot in Ghana in 2007 and is now the Leyaata Matron, reminded us that God has orchestrated for each one of us to arrive in Ghana against all odds and for a particular purpose— maybe even for one person — like the dental patient who required two hours and three dentists to help him, or the surgical patient requiring a six-hour surgery and two hours of intensive care. “Mr. Hicks and his team came to Ghana against all odds for one man. If I never remember anything else, I will always remember that man and his wife, who are no longer suffering.” Ernestina concluded.
I agree with Ernestina that there is undoubtedly a divine orchestration behind all of this, and we are very proud Leyaata partners who are wholeheartedly excited about what is happening in this place and about what is about to happen next — against all odds. Take a look at us now! (For the Phil Collins fans in the group).
Until next week….
Practising casting on Abraham, Leyaata’s Administrator!
Ultrasonographer Jane is joyfully transferring skills to the midwife team as she teaches them how to confirm the position and heart beat of babies in the antenatal clinic.
Midwife Thecla teaching Helping Babies Breathe
Chief Midwifery Officer Doris setting up a neonatal resuscitation simulation.
Dr. Annie, as she is fondly called, is sporting a new look.
Helping Babies Breathe Training
Eye Team enjoying the new electronic automated phoropter.
Josh and Issa
Marion working on the eyeglass database.
Prosper’s Optical Dispensary
Radiographer Kelly giving a fantastic guest lecture to the CASTED participants.
Dr. Josh and Dr. Martin and their “precious” (the laser).
Leyaata midwives after performing a simulated resuscitation in front of Dr. Mensah and Chief Joseph of Yaara village.
Fresh fried snapper and plantain, beans, salad and pineapple.
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