Day four and five represent the last days spent providing health services at the international mission in Sekondi. On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of next week we will move the daily clinical operations about 8 miles out of town to a rural village called Konsu. If one could imagine, the patients tend to be much sicker. Although the clinic is set up according to the same model as the one in Sekondi, often fewer patients are seen because of the acute, chronic, and varied health issues they possess. Unlike Sekondi, a Fante speaking community, many in the community of Konsu are French speaking, therefore the community health workers have to be trilingual (English, Fante, and French).
We could not run the clinic without a steady supply of community health workers, who often spend 8 or more hours per day with us. They are members of the church where is mission is housed, and are completely dedicated to the success of the mission. Most are in their early 20’s and are students. They take time off from their school or job to work at this two week mission and do not receive payment for it. Their dedication to the mission is apparent in all that they do. This includes interpreting for triage (intake) workers and providers, helping to set up and tear down the clinic, and organizing supplies, keeping order in the wait line, and escorting the students and participants in and around Sekondi/Takoradi in the afternoons.
Jen Lockman, MSW and recent UNE alum, has utilized a community worker in her important case management role that involves daily runs to the chemist (pharmacy) and bank, as all transactions are on a “cash and carry” basis. Cedis (Ghanaian currency) are used in the clinic to pay for transport of acutely ill patients to the local hospital, their hospital fee, as well as any medications they may need.
Beth DeGarmo and Kate Keller, second year PA students, have transitioned beautifully into supervised provider roles. They have seen a full compliment of patients of varying developmental ages and health conditions. Like many provider students who partake in this experience, they have expressed this is a most amazing review in total health assessment as one must rely on their own skills without the technology that western medicine affords us.
Nurses Chelsea Paterson, Laura Seeger, Katie Firth, Kayla Baker, Nancy Thach and Deb Murray have not only served in triage (intake) roles, but have also worked directly alongside providers to help with treatments and medication dispensing. They are already exhibiting the intuitive skills that great nurses possess, instinctively knowing and predicting what may be asked of them, and offering suggestions that assist the providers.
Hilarie Jones, MSN, APRN is a name we would like to introduce to blog readers. She is the Ghana Health Mission group leader for this trip. Her experience as an adult nurse practitioner in an internal medicine practice in central Connecticut and her passion for global health has prepared her to both mentor participants/students and to provide safe and culturally competent health care to the citizens of Sekondi.