Monday, March 19, 2012

They say its best to hit the ground running, so that is exactly what 6 of us did this morning. We ran from 6-6:45am, sticking along the coastline roads, all the while smiling and greeting those who maybe wondering “What is this, an American Co-ed bowling team”? It’s very different being in a place where you are clearly the minority, so seeing people stare is not something some of us are accustomed to. But what an amazing experience to realize those stares are pure curiosity and not hostility, with the local people smiling and shouting encouragement to these running strangers. Thank you for showing us your true hearts this morning, Sekondi.

After the run was a quick, but delicious breakfast, and off to the clinic we went. There was less set-up necessary today, as there were no church services, but we did make a few logistical changes in order to have a better flow. Once again we hit the ground running, this time not literally, and started seeing patients around 8:45am. There was a patient returning for a blood sugar recheck, and Suzanne took this opportunity to educate this enthusiastic patient about all things diabetes. Mostly what we saw today were patients new to the providers, although there were some family members of patients seen yesterday, and it appears that word has spread in the community.

Today I saw a wide range of complaints, both inter-patient and intra-patient. An example is a patient who hadn’t been seen in 1 year who had visual changes, abdominal pains, headaches and intentional tremors. One complaint at a time, I asked the appropriate questions to get a diagnosis, and treated each complaint to the capability of our clinic. Some complaints, such as the cataracts that this man had, were beyond treatment in our clinic. It is a foreign and difficult reality that diseases we treat easily in the USA are the same diseases that an uninsured Ghanain will just have to live with. We are going to try to get him insured and seen by a doctor here, but there will be no guarantees.

The providers (Dr. J, Karen, James and myself) had a much smoother day of caring for patients, and worked quite synergistically today. We recognized our weaknesses, asked each other for opinions, and together came up with the best treatments possible given our circumstances. I feel that we will only move forward from here, and we will be a well-oiled machine as of tomorrow. Despite what appeared to be a great day between providers, we owe most of our day’s success to our supporting staff (Trish, Casey, Chelsea, Suzanne, Meagan, Sarah, Pat, Justice, Felicia, Ben, Frank, and the others). Without their help, we could not provide as good of care to the patients.

What a fantastic Day 3! The plan is to hit the ground running again tomorrow morning…..

-Shayne Foley, PA-S2

I chose to let the young ones run early today and tried to sneak in an extra hour of sleep after doing battle with the high night time temps and humidity – I already had sweated off 2 liters of fluid during the night!

The team is great, everyone playing a role in getting patients in and through in an orderly fashion. The Ghanians are very patient, waiting hours to be seen. I am one of four providers in the clinic and the “elder” of the group so I get great questions to wrestle with as well as the bill at the local establishment we occasionally retreat to.

Last night I mentioned to the group that we were so prepared to treat malaria (something I have never seen before) but was disappointed that on the first day I had not seen one case. Most of what I saw was the same we would see in an acute care clinic back home. Much different today. The sickest young boy I had seen in ages came to the clinic with his mom. Temp 102.5, pulse 128, respirations 40 and very lethargic. He had been having fevers for 5 days and vomiting without diarrhea as well as a headache. Normal exam otherwise. Meningitis? No, with the aid of fingerstick point of care malaria test produced in Scarborough, Maine, we were able to make the diagnosis of malaria. Emily, our expert pharmacist, worked out the dosing of his meds, we started the WHO oral rehydration protocol and hopefully we will see an improved young boy tomorrow.

I also began an OMT clinic and word began spreading amongst the construction workers and traders in the area. We improvised a table and now another 6 people have been introduced to the healing potential first explained by Dr. Still over 150 years ago.

-Steve Jendzejec D.O.

Today was our second day in clinic and once again it was an enriching experience. I saw my first perforated tempanic membrane, my first tinea capitis, and many other interesting patients. My most memorable case was a woman with Hepatitis B. It was a hard case because we did not have any medications for here in our pharmacy, in fact we don’t think there is any treatment available in Ghana. It was heart breaking for me. While I waited for a consult with Dr. J the patient and I talked about our children. She had an eleven month old on her back and I showed her pictures of my two and a half year old son. In the end I gave her a care package with some soaps and lotions. Even though I could not treat her disease she was still very grateful for my time and the care package. Every day the same question comes to mind, who is being healed in this experience?

-James Mabry PA-S

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