Monday, August 12, 2013

August 13th, 2013 by rbuhr


The Ghana Cross Cultural Health Immersion team is home, but what a week we had. Since our last post, we have spent a week in Sekondi, Ghana setting up medical health clinics for the local population. After our travel woes over the weekend, we were up early on Tuesday for breakfast and to set up the clinic. By 11:00 am we were ready for our first patients. That first clinic involved nurses, pharmacists, public health professionals and physical therapists getting accustomed to the flow in the clinic. By the middle of that afternoon, we were running like a reasonably well-oiled machine.

We continued with our clinics on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, getting smoother and more efficient each day. Many of the patients had walked long distances to reach the clinic, and the line began to form as early as 3:00 in the morning. Final statistics showed that we saw over forty patients each day with medical issues ranging from back and neck pain to open wounds and malaria. Many of the patients were babies and young children, with many elderly also seen. Because we had eleven physical therapy students, some cross trained on triage and working in the lab, where most mastered the techniques of the malaria test kits.

University of Cape Coast Collaboration

We were very fortunate during the week to have five physicians from the University of Cape Coast Hospital. Two were seasoned physicians, with Dr. Aziz being the top administrator at the hospital. Three of the physicians were recent graduates of the medical school, and they were joined by three medical students. These doctors were able to help us see more patients than we would have on our own, and provided a rich learning opportunity for all as we learned from each other, and co-treated using our Ghanian or American medical training backgrounds.

We were also joined by Isaac, a physiotherapist at UCC Hospital, for the week. On Wednesday and Friday, groups of physical therapists traveled to Cape Coast to tour the hospital, as well as the Central Region Hospital, also in Cape Coast. The collaborations between UCC Hospital and UNE will continue to be developed in the future.

Cultural Immersion

Where do I start? On Tuesday after lunch, most of the group went to the town of Takoradi to purchase fabric. Fabric stores are plentiful in Takoradi, as many Ghanians make their own clothing. Magdalene, with her three-month old infant on her back, gave advice on amounts to purchase, and then met our group back in Sekondi to take measurements and orders for shirts, tops, pants, shorts, skirts, and dresses. Later in the week, all the items showed up in time to be worn at the drumming concert on Friday night.

The drummers are an essential part of the UNE experience, and are very impressive with the various drums and the African dancers. Some in our group (Gia) took to the dance floor and were almost hired on the spot! Our group also fed the local economy at the wood-workers shops and other local businesses as we made many purchase of souvenirs for friends and family back home, as well as ourselves. From small pieces of jewelry to four-foot tall wooden giraffes, we got it all. On Wednesday afternoon, we walked through the Sekondi market, a maze of paths through tightly congested shops selling foods and other essentials.

After the tour, we attended the Sekondi Inter Community League soccer game, played on a dirt field with many spectators and very skilled players. Besides all of these group trips around town, much of the immersion took place as we were able to sit and talk to the community health workers with us during the week, and learn of their lives and their dreams. Finally, on Saturday, we packed the bus and departed at around 9:00 am. On our way to the airport, we stopped in Elmina Castle, an important slave castle that is now a national landmark. The guided tour put into reality the incredible human toll of the slave trade. Between 26 and 30 million slaves passed through this castle. It is an incredibly moving experience.

After more shopping in Elmina, we traveled the short distance to Coconut Grove Beach Resort for lunch and relaxation. We were met there by Dr. Aziz, his wife, and Reverand Andoh. Dr. Aziz brought a large supply of Fu Fu for lunch, and Reverand Andoh showed us the traditional way to eat this meal (no spoons and forks allowed! Keep your hands clean!). It was then back on the bus for a four-hour ride to the airport, which included four-wheeling down a pot-holed and rutted detour along the way. But with the skill of our driver we finally reached the George H W Bush Highway which brought us right into the airport.

The travel home was uneventful. Accra to London, four hour layover, and then to Boston, arriving nearly on time. After hugs and good-byes, we all went on our separate ways, holding the memories of Ghana and each other in our hearts forever.

Dennis Leighton

Monday, August 5, 2013

August 7th, 2013 by rbuhr


Traveling to Ghana can requires several personal attributes to make the trip successful. Flexibility, perseverance, accommodation, and a sense of humor are essential. Most years, these attributes come into play once we arrive in Accra and Sekondi. This year, though, all attributes came into play even before we left Boston!

Packing the bus for Sekondi

Scheduled to depart Boston on Friday evening, we received news that afternoon that our flight had been cancelled. Jen Morton and Trisha Mason were immediately on the phones to see what could be done. It was a no-go for Friday, though. So, the decision was made to get everyone to Boston by 11:00 am Saturday. Jen met most of that afternoon with airlines gate personnel, and we were finally told that we would be on a 6:15 flight from Boston to Paris, France. We scrambled to get the luggage weighed and distributed, as we had sixty pieces of luggage for the twenty-five in our group. We raced to the Air France ticket counter and in the nick of time we were all checked through to Ghana, with boarding passes in hand. I don’t think the ticket agents were too used to checking in bundles of walkers, sets of wheelchairs, and bag after bag of medical equipment.

Once in Paris, we had to split up for the flight to our next destination – beautiful Dubai! Now, if you majored in Geography in college you will know that Dubai is not on the way to Ghana from Paris. To get to Dubai, ten of us took a 12:30 (local time) flight out of Paris on Air France, while the other fifteen took an Emerites flight from Paris, departing two hours later. So the smaller group had a seven-hour layover in Paris, and the larger group had a nine hours in Paris.

This larger group took advantage of all this time to leave the airport and visit Notre Dame Cathedral and Louvre. With all this, everyone made it to the gate on time, and we all met in Dubai later that night at 10:00 pm or midnight. The layover in Dubai was another 7 ½ or 9 ½ hours, depending on when we arrived.

The flight to Ghana departed at 7:30 pm local time and was an 7½ hour flight. Apparently, the pilot decided to follow the coast all the way around Africa instead of cutting straight across the continent. We eventually arrived at our chosen destination – Accra, Ghana – at noon local time. Following our five-hour drive to Sekondi, we were definitely ready for dinner and an evening of settling into our rooms Monday night.

The group has remained positive and focused ready to start clinic first thing in the morning

Dennis Leighton

Cross Cultural Health Immersion-Ghana 2013

July 29th, 2013 by rbuhr

These photos are from past immersion trips. Follow our blog for photos from our upcoming trip.

On August 2, 2013, twenty four students, faculty and community based health professionals will travel to the Western Region of Ghana to work alongside health workers in the communities of Sekondi, Takoradi, Kansawarado, and Mpintsin. Cross Cultural Health Immersion-Ghana, a UNE program has been conducting travel experiences for students at UNE for 6 years under the leadership of Dr. Jennifer Morton from the Westbrook College of Health Professions. A rich cultural/clinical immersion, participants engage in community based clinical and related services that include primary care, health promotion activities, health education, and more. In addition, participants work alongside Ghana Health Service workers and community health outreach workers to truly understand and practice culturally focused care under the Ghanaian health paradigm.

The August 2013 interprofessional cohort includes:

Claudia Burns (DPT ’14)
Gia Calabrese (DPT ’14)
Mitchell Chan (Pharm ’14)
Stephanie Fyock ( MPH ’14)
Thomas Gjeltema (DPT ’14)
Ryan Hill (DPT ’14)
Rachael Hohmann (DPT ’14)
Emily Farnham (alum Nsg ’13)
Heidi Jones (DPT ’14)
Jayme Keith (DPT ’14)
Emily Melzer (DPT ’14)
Amy Muntifering (DPT ’14)
Tho Ngo (MPH ’14)
Kirsten Shangraw (DPT ’14)
Georgia Smith (alum, Nsg ’13)
Liane Vogel (Nsg ’14)
James Walrath (DPT ’14)
Chris Hill (alum DPT ’12)
Jen Morton, DNP (Nsg Faculty)
Dennis Leighton, DPT (DPT Faculty)
Erin Koepf, PharmD (Pharm Practice Faculty)
Sarah Smith, PharmD (Pharm Practice Faculty)
Hilarie Jones, NP, APRN
Anne Tompkins, RN
Kathy Vezina, RN, JD

Dr. Dennis Leighton and several students have coordinated fundraising and supply collections with Partners for World Health and local venders. These donations will be presented to the local hospital (EKG machine, walkers, wheelchairs, canes) as well as other supplies for the various clinics.

There are also several student projects that will take place. Tho Ngo (MPH ’14) is completing her MPH practicum with Jennifer Morton, DNP and Linda Vanotoo, MD (Ghana Health Service). Specifically, Tho will working with the GHS to build a database for the collaborative clinic that tracks epidemiologic trends. Other students will collect clinical hours for their various disciplines of study.

In addition to practice environment activities (clinical and public health), participants will engage in many cultural activities that include attending a semi pro soccer game, visiting the local markets, touring Elmina Castle, visiting Kakum national park, and being entertained by a local drumming corp.

Friday, August 3, 2012

August 3rd, 2012 by rbuhr

Akwaaba! Welcome!

Cross Cultural Health Initiative participant bios:

Ellie Ellis graduated in 2011 with a Registered Nurse license and is currently working toward her Bachelor’s in nursing at UNE. She is originally from Boston. Ellie works part time as an EMT in Kennebunkport, ME. For the summer, she is also doing a nursing internship with the Mass General Hospital.

Lauren Hurley is currently studying psychology and social relations at UNE and will graduate in the summer of 2013. She plans on entering the nursing program after graduation. She is from New York and this trip is her first time overseas.

Meagan Chandler is an RN who graduated from UNE with her bachelor’s in nursing this past May in 2012. She is from Colorado and currently works as a camp nurse in Poland, ME for her second summer. She has a passion in working with vulnerable populations. This is Meagan’s second trip to Ghana with UNE.

Nicole Santarosa is studying physical therapy and will graduate in May 2013 with her DPT. She is originally from Los Angeles and moved to Maine in 2010 to attend UNE. Next spring, she will be completing her final clinical in San Francisco.

Taryn Wright is studying physical therapy and will graduate in May, 2013 with her DPT. She aspires to work with Division I college athletes she is originally from North Dakota, and moved to Maine in 2010 to attend UNE where she is employed as an athletic trainer.

Emily Farnham is a nursing student and will graduate from UNE in May 2013 with her BSN. She is originally from Seattle and moved to Maine in December 2011 to attend UNE. She is interested in women’s health and HIV/AIDS outreach.

Laura Seifert is an online MPH student and will graduate in December 2013. She holds a Bachelor’s in kinesiology from Arizona State and a Master’s in bioethics. She is interested in rural health and health disparities. She aspires to work with underserved populations.

Sam Hynes is in the online Master of Social Work Program at UNE. She holds a Bachelor’s in human services from the University of Northern Colorado. She is interested in community development and health education and would like to work to prevent the spread of communicable diseases.

Kristen Provencher is in the online Master of Public Health Program at UNE and teaches health at Mountain Valley High School in Rumford, ME. She was born and raised in Maine and attended University of Farmington Maine for her Bachelor’s. She is interested in all aspects of health, particularly epidemiology.

Caroline Jarolimek is currently pursuing her BSN at UNE and holds a Bachelor’s in integrative physiology from the University of Colorado in Boulder. She is originally from Colorado and moved to Maine in December 2011 to attend UNE. She enjoys studying all aspects of nursing and has a special interest in orthopedics.

Cheryl Deane is a second year PA student and will graduate in May, 2013. She holds a Bachelor’s in natural resources from Cornell University. She is originally from upstate New York and moved to Maine in 2007. She would like to work in rural primary care.

Antoin DeSchrijver is a second year PA student, graduating in May 2013. He previously attended Boston University and earned a Bachelor’s in biophysiology. He is originally from Newton, MA. He enjoys studying all aspects of medicine and especially loves pathophysiology, dermatology, and the ability to practice disaster medicine.

Amber Maniates is a second year PA student graduation in May, 2013. She has a BA in social sciences with an emphasis in psychology from the University of Montana Western. She has a special interest in ED and primary care.

Jessica Numon is from New Jersey but currently living in New York City. She graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2009 with her BSN. She enjoys all aspects of nursing and recently landed her dream job as a cardiothoracic ICU nurse at New York Presbyterian Hospital in May.

Janie Watson recently graduated from UNE with her Master of Social Work. She is originally from Lubback, TX and moved to Maine in 2009. She holds a Bachelor’s in art education and studio art, as well as interior design. She currently works as a case manager from people with severe mental illness and addiction doing outreach groups, and individual therapy.

More blog posts from students written earlier this week

Sunday, July 29th

After somewhat recovering from 24 hours of travel, we had the opportunity to attend the morning church service at Pure Word Chapel, the church that our host, Rev. Andoh, preaches at. His wife, Augustina, gave the sermon. Within the two hour service, we experienced an exuberant devotion to God including an enthusiastic welcome, singing, dancing, very uplifting music, as well as a lot of “hallelujah’s” and “amen’s”.
After lunch, we had a mini orientation and then started setting up clinic in the Pure Word Chapel, which is right across from the compound where we are staying. In the clinic we organized triage, lab, pharmacy, physical therapy and provider tables. After working out the kinks we settled into an efficient flow. We were able to see 20 patients ranging in ailments from waist pains to festering wounds in the few hours that we ran the clinic.
In the evening after clinic, we had time to continue to decompress and take a breath. Despite our lack of sleep, late night chitchats and laughs enabled us to get to know each other, including all of our deepest, darkest secrets.

Monday, July 30th

While few braved an early morning run, most of us took the opportunity to get more z’s. After a wonderful breakfast of omelets and peanut butter toast, and surprisingly delicious instant coffee, we started the second clinic at 8:00am again at Pure Word Chapel. Floating from the triage station, to the lab for a Malaria test, to the provider for a diagnosis, to the pharmacy for deworming meds, or to physical therapy for some stretches or adaptive equipment, the patients had access to a holistic plan of care. The nurses and nursing students, including Ellie, Caroline, Emily, Meagan, and Jess, primarily manned the triage station. They also helped with lab tests and wound dressings. Taryn, Nicole, and Larry headed up the physical therapy station while Sam helped with Malaria testing and blood sugar readings in the lab. Kathy, Hillary, Amber, Cheryl, and Antoin were the health care providers of the clinic. Mike has been our eye guy, giving eye exams and handing out glasses, while Jayne helped organize the patients who needed health insurance. Jen, our fearless leader, worked in the pharmacy and floated around the clinic, expertly keeping us all calm, cool, and collected.

Laura, Kristen, and Lauren took a taxi ride with one of our community wokers to a local area high school on Monday morning where they were given an inside look into the lives of local high school-ers. Otelia, a teacher at the school who we had met the night before, took the girls around school grounds. They first met the head mistress and a couple of other administrators who filled them in on the demographics of the school. It is an all girls’ school with about 1,500 students. Many of the girls live there and the rest are day students. Students wear uniforms, which consist of a white dress, optional blue sweater, and very short hair. The best part if the tour was being able to talk with a classroom full of about 32 girls. The students were very interested to learn about the UNE students. They were very polite and asked thoughtful questions about our gun laws and how black people, and specifically Africans, are viewed by white people in the U.S. The students were very proud to sing their school anthem for the UNE students. The tour also included visits to the dining hall and kitchen, the dorm building, and classrooms.

After everyone arrived back at the compound, we went out to experience the busy marketplace in Takoradi. Magdalena, an expert tailor, took us to two amazingly colorful fabric stores where we picked out our favorite Ghanaian fabrics. This proved a much more challenging task than originally thought, as each new fabric we laid eyes on became our new favorite! The fabrics were gorgeous and brilliantly bright, embracing the country’s colorful culture. We came out with bags full of fabric and put in our clothing orders for Magdalena to make us skirts, shirts, dresses, bags, and ties. Can’t wait to see what she transforms the fabric into!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

August 2nd, 2012 by rbuhr

Cross Cultural Health Initiatives Ghana continues to be a rich experience for students, faculty and outside participants. We have seen over 150 patients in the urban Sekondi clinic and in the rural village of Mpinsin. Some of the other activities have included

Caroline Jarolimek Nsg '12

Caroline Jarolimek Nsg '12


  • Community Health Education Sekondi, Mpinsn
  • Direct care
  • Visit to local hospital


  • Evening Lecture Series
  • Otelia Bensah-Nutrition in Ghana
  • Kobina Esia Donkah, PhD (Cultural Anthropologist) Traditional Practices and Healng


  • Visit to local high school (Kristin Provencher , MPH ’13, Lauren Hurley, Social Relations ’12, Laura Seifert, MPH ’13)
  • Visit to Social Welfare Offce (Janie Watson MSW ’12, Lauren Hurley, Sam Hynes, MSW ’13).
  • Visit to Shama Distrct Health Centre for research related focus groups (Carlne Jarolimek, Nsg ’12, Emly Farnham Nsg ’12).
  • Shopping in Takoradi and Sekondi for artisan crafts of the region.

Looking forward to the rest of the week and sharing more with the UNE community.

– Jennifer L. Morton