Ghana Health Team 2017 Update - Four Patients and a Truck

By Dr. Jennifer Wilson

Sunday morning began with a church service under the trees and canopies of the Carpenter compound. David Mensah arrived wearing his traditional regalia of the senior chief position he holds in this tribe, a role in which he leads other chiefs. The service was full of dancing, singing, testimonies to God’s faithfulness over this mission and then Pastor Jacob preached the sermon. He spoke on the story of Esther. When impending danger and death were facing her people she took action and she arose ‘for such a time as this.’

“We are writing our own Bible story here,” Pastor Jacob kept repeating over and over again. It was a service none of us will soon forget.

After church, Dr. Rob Hicks asked David to explain his role as senior chief, and, gathering under the mango tree, a large group of the team received an amazing lecture on Peace and Conflict in Ghana. This is a key sector of NEAs development work and David uses his role as senior chief to train local leaders in peace and conflict resolution techniques. He works very closely with the chiefs, many of whom are now Christians, to teach them to lead ethically and Biblically. Maintaining peace in the Mo tribe is so critical to the development work here.

 Peacebuilding 101

Peacebuilding 101

After a lunchtime celebration of Margaret’s birthday with our little banner and tiara and a shoebox of treats collected by Francois, our afternoon was filled with wonderfully relaxing activities: napping, attending one of three book clubs and playing games under the gazebo. Dr. Neil ran a fun activity in the dining hall where everyone brought their devices with 5 favourite pictures from back home and pairs would have 5 minutes to share with one another about their 5 pictures after which you would rotate to a new partner.

At 4:00 pm our weekend of rest came to an end and all teams went to work to prepare for what will be four more very busy days of work. By suppertime we were ready to go. Suppertime is definitely worth noting. David Mensah carved two big NEA turkeys and we enjoyed fresh tomato soup with homemade croutons followed by turkey dinner complete with roast potatoes, gravy, stuffing and fresh vegetables from the NEA gardens.

 Sunday Dinner

Sunday Dinner

I didn’t think I would have any patient stories to tell you today as we try very hard to allow our team to rest and be off duty on Saturday and Sunday. It is the only way they can maintain the pace of their work for the rest of the week. We put measures in place to have all medical emergencies directed to Dr. David and Collins, our Ghanaian colleagues. This is why I was so surprised to received the report at dinner of four very special patients and a truck.

Dr. Andy noticed a sick child sitting near him during the church service and recognized impending danger. The grandmother scooped this limp child up to take him home but Dr. Andy intervened. He mobilized his nursing team and diagnostic team and they treated this child for severe malaria with injectable antimalarials and watched him until he was safe to go home.

Nurse Sandra and Dr. Carlye were heading to the residence for a nap when they came across an exceptionally unhappy child and a worried mother. This 2 year-old had a strangulated hernia — impeding danger once again. They quickly brought him into the compound where one of our surgeons, Dr. Elke, was just exiting the lunch room. Her hands of mercy reduced the hernia and the child’s screams of pain immediately stopped. His surgery would have been done in the morning but he also has malaria so it will be deferred until Thursday.

Surgical nurse Aaron was strolling around a noticed a woman slumped over at the gate. Taking the time to find a translator he discovered this woman had been walking for three days to get to our eye clinic to have her glaucoma treated in her left eye. She was blind in her right eye already and was desperate to get to our eye team to save her from blindness. Aaron took it upon himself to find Dr. Martin and Dr. Toylin and within minutes the laser was fired up and her eye was saved. She was then given food and a place to stay before she would make the long three day journey home.

Dr. Kyle and Garrett and Greg were heading to the residence for some R&R when they noticed a big truck stalled on the side of the road. The driver was under the truck dealing with a leak of some sort. With dental head lamps on they tried to fix the problem but to no avail. The took it upon themselves to find NEA’s chief mechanic and successful emergency surgery was performed with a welding iron. I wish I could describe the look on David Mensah’s face when he heard this one!

So much for shielding the team from work today! Each of these cases involved impending danger or death (well maybe not so much for the truck) and like Esther, our team made a choice not to turn a blind eye. Rather, they chose to arise, to take action for such a time as this.

At the end of the church service we were asked to greet one another with a hand shake and the blessing “May it be well with you,” and so it seems fitting to extend the same to all of you — our loved ones, family, friends and colleagues following our time of service here. May it be well with you.

With love from Carpenter and thanks for all of your wonderful comments. They continue to be one of our daily highlights!