Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hello how are you? (Otenden?) Today the team packed up a van full of supplies and another full of healthcare providers to outreach in a rural village called Mpintsin (about 20 min. from the church we reside in). After arrival, we were graciously welcomed by the people of this small rural area.  With a more diverse and impoverished population, we set up the clinic as strategically as possible. We unloaded the van and entered what used to be the chief’s house.

The lab, pharmacy, and triage room was all tactically puzzled together in an open air 20×10 foot area. The people, eager for attention, reached out for one of the 34 patient intake cards allowed to be distributed that day (typically, we usually see about 50 patients but today we had a shorter clinic day). This was a little chaotic, but with the help of brilliant community workers, our UNE team, locals and Ghanaian Health Service nurses, Sylvia, Evi and Grace, we were able to synergistically organize and find some order to then start the day. The cases that presented were interesting and incredible. Every day, I find myself more and more amazed by the Ghanaians. The patience they possess, their intelligence, strength, and pain tolerance. With this in mind, some of the cases we saw could have been easily avoided with simple health visit and follow-up, a concept much easier for a country with rich resources.

A man today had a sizable (possible) streptococcus infection that ate away at his skin, so large that he could not bear any weight on it and needed crutches to walk. His foot too, was the size and shape of a football. When asked how he got the wound he replied, “it was a curse put on me 10 years ago.”  10 years he had been battling this infection!  This is one of many examples of the resiliency and strength Ghanaians display as well as the cultural overlay that define perceptions of health. He will return tomorrow for a second visit. We plan to see the others tomorrow that could not get numbers today.

We are keeping a running list of those people in need of health insurance. We learned that health insurance usually costs around 35 Ghanaian Cedis (about $25-) A YEAR! Most of those needing care could not afford health insurance. Part of our clinic fund goes to enrolling qualified patients in healthcare insurance for one year or more. We hope this will support more sustainable, long term care.

After the clinic and a nice Ghanaian meal, (favorite) red red (black eyed beans and fried plantain), we ventured forth to Kakum National Park. The park features a canopy walk that is 350 meters high and sits 40 meters above the ground. It was nice to see people face their fears, and push themselves to new African HEIGHTS!  Cheers for overcoming fears!

As we joyfully scampered down the walk and hopped on the trotro (Ghanaian Vans) we got about half a mile down the road until the trotro broke down. The group made the most of the hour long wait for rescue (by constructing a makeshift bench out of bamboo…Emily’s idea) on the side of the road.  We finally arrived home safe and sound.  Although temporarily without electricity, we are happy to be resting easy in our beds, very grateful for this day, its challenges, and its accomplishments.

A special Meda ase (Thank you) to everyone here in Ghana and those back home that support and care for us during this remarkable journey.

Suzanne Bruen, RN
Meagan Chandler, RN

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