Tonight at dinner, Brenda Mensah shared the story of her first trip to Yaara village to meet her in-laws. It was one of the hardest days of her life. The trip from Carpenter to Yaara took their young family six hours on treacherous paths and across rivers with no bridges. It was there that she met a very, very sick man who was burning up with fever. She knew there was no way he could survive the journey out of this remote village to receive medical care. The helplessness the Mensahs felt prompted them to begin to dream and pray that perhaps someday, one doctor or one nurse might partner with them to bring health care to places like Yaara.
Over the past two days, our mobile team brought health care to over 1,000 patients in the very village of Yaara. Today’s clinic began with a triage nurse shouting for a doctor to help a sick child who had been bitten by a cobra. Dr. Helen was available and she and our nursing team spent a number of hours caring for this child. It turns out, she was sick from pneumonia, not the cobra, but our pharmacy was prepared with anti snake venom in their battery operated cooler just in case.
Speaking of pharmacy, our pharmacy program is truly a wonder. Don’t get me wrong, we all work extremely hard, but our pharmacists carry the heaviest load. They spend an entire year organizing every medication we might need for the medical, dental and eye team. They also help procure for our surgical and anaesthetic colleagues. Medications for chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension are strategically chosen to match what is available in Ghana so that patients can renew their medicines locally. Dosages and length of treatment are all decided based on WHO standards. They receive every prescription the physicians write into their automated system, put up with our handwriting, dispense it, double check it and then counsel the patients on how to properly take it. Then, when the day is done and we are all playing euchre and games in the residence, they are preparing medications for the next day. I don’t know how Linda, Sherry, Martha, Lisa, Karen and Kirlis, together with NEA’s pharmacy graduate Emmanuel do it, but our pharmacy program is instrumental to the care we provide and to the success of our mission. They are super-heroes.
Speaking of medications, we have started a new club on the compound called the “Cipro Club”. This is the medicine you take for travellers diarrhea and, yes indeed, it seems to be “running” through our ranks. Thankfully, it is short lived and we all get great care from Dr. John, our team doctor.
Back on the compound, 34 operations took place and we are thankful that there were no complications, adverse events, fires or floods. Dr. David Cressey remarked at what a tightly knit group they are after only working together for three days. It was interesting to note that we saw very few large hernias in Yaara over these two days, as over the past 10 years, our surgical program has come close to eradicating them. Our emergency patient from yesterday underwent a successful surgery today and will be heading back to his village tomorrow.
Dr. Josh and Marion had the laser up and running today with Dr. Martin supervising and it seems that word has spread even to Accra that NEA is providing this service to treat glaucoma. Despite Ghana having one of the highest rates of glaucoma in the world, NEA is the only organization with this laser. What an exciting service that the Leyaata Hospital will be able to provide for the entire country in the near future and discussions and planning are underway.
All in all it was another rich and rewarding day and just so special for us to hear that we are part of a dream coming true and a prayer being answered for the Mensahs, NEA and this land.
Dr. Jennifer Wilson, MD, CCFP(EM), FCFP, DIMPH