By Dr. Jennifer Wilson
NEA decided to treat us to a “sleep-in” after our long journey, so our day began at 7:30am under the gazebo. The NEA staff gather every morning to pray before they start their work and this morning, they invited us and all our translators to attend. Beautiful multi-part harmonies rang out as the staff led us in a song called “My God is Good.” David, who is an NEA accountant, shared a message from the Bible from Matthew 25 that talks about how whatever we do for the least of humanity we do for God himself.
A superb breakfast of oatmeal, omelettes, beans, fresh bread, peanut butter, watermelon and bananas along with Tim Horton’s coffee (we don’t leave home without it) was enjoyed by all. Dr. David joined us for breakfast. David is a young Ghanaian physician who is one of NEA’s scholars. He will be working with both the medical and surgical team for the second year in a row and we are excited about the mutual transfer of skills that will take place. “We will never forget this. We will always have you in our hearts,” he told us.
After breakfast, all the teams made their final preparations to begin our work and our automated pharmacy went live. The physicians spent a good hour with our local medical assistant Ernestina reviewing illnesses we are less familiar with, such as malaria, HIV and tropical ulcers to name a few.
The operating theatres were up and running by 10:30am, and despite the later than normal start, the team completed 35 hernia successful surgeries with zero complications. It is unusual for Day 1 to be so efficient, especially with so many first time surgical team members, but, Dr. Rob (aka Mr. Rob in the UK) declared it the “best first day ever.” Way to go surgical team! Imagine what they can do with a full day work.
We ran a very important medical clinic this afternoon for the NEA staff and their family members. What an honour for us to care for and provide medicine to these dear friends and their families. As seems to be the pattern, the clinic began with an emergency when a pregnant patient fell off a motorcycle on the road outside the compound. We were thankful that Dr. Kate brought an ultrasound machine from Edmonton which was a key diagnostic tool in this situation. Thankfully mom and baby are doing well.
Emergencies continued and today’s rapid response team of our paramedic Greg and Dr. Sue and Joan responded to a collapsed patient in the eye clinic as well as a toddler who was convulsing with cerebral malaria. The child was stabilized and after consulting with our paediatrician Dr. Anne, was transferred to the nearest hospital. We were thankful to receive word that the child was still alive this evening, but the situation is critical, and we pray she will survive the night. (Malaria is a leading cause of death among children under 5 in Ghana.)
The eye clinic worked until the sun went down (no power in their building), and they too had an exceptional first day — including a lovely fireworks show when their sterilizer sort of blew up. Thankfully, Ashley in the OR is a really, really nice guy who offered to provide sterilization services to our eye team for a nominal fee.
Our dental team were extremely busy and were faced with some challenging cases that Dr. Francois admitted were very humbling. I think we would all agree, this is humbling work for all of us. None of us are foolish enough to feel overconfident — we simply do our best one patient at a time.
According to the queen of logistics (BTW isn’t Kim looking fabulous in the new logistical team color of bright yellow), we saw 386 medical, surgical, dental and eye patients on this compound today. I’m just so glad it was the best first day ever. Not so much for us, but for NEA. The men and women and their families who do the very, very hard work of development 365 days a year deserve nothing less.