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.