By Dr. Jennifer Wilson
Our day began with the news that our little patient with cerebral malaria survived the night but was still in critical condition. Our colleagues at the district hospital are doing everything possible to save her and we continue to pray for a good report tomorrow.
Our Ghanaian logistics team arrived in Nyamboi village at 0400 this morning to set up our canopies and organize the crowds. When our 3 buses of team members and translators arrived at 0800 it took no time at all to man our stations, pop up our incredible pharmacy and begin our task of caring for one patient at time. A small delegation of first-time team members that included Anna, Anne, Alisha, Jessica and myself greeted the chief and elders while the clinic got underway.
The clinic ran so smoothly and efficiently thanks to a great team effort. It was a real pleasure to have Dr. Simon and nurse Bex from the surgical team join us and consult on a gangrenous foot as well as a patient with an abscess that needed draining. Midday, the District Director of Health Services and his team arrived to greet us. He toured our clinic and witnessed Ghanaians and Canadians and Europeans working side by side and hand in hand. Abraham remarked to him, “This is more than mere friendship.”
Our eye clinic really suffered today as temperatures soared into the high 30s in their dark window-covered church clinic. They never complain, but Dr.Martin did declare at supper they are the “hottest team” of all. Many of last year’s glaucoma patients were reviewed in clinic today and are all doing very well.
Our dentists worked extremely hard today and didn’t seem to even notice the goats continually grazing around their canopies.
Back on the compound the surgical team had a full and challenging day with four emergency cases in addition to all of their booked surgeries. Dealing with a few dodgy stomachs they pushed through with incredible resilience. Ashley shared at dinner how proud he was of all the surgical nursing staff who have very long days arriving early and staying late to prepare the theatres and sterilize everyone’s instruments. There was one marriage proposal in the OR and it involved a dowry of bush meat — I will leave you guessing on that one!
Dr. Dan’s last patient of the day was unexpectedly complicated. When Dr. Simon arrived back from the village he immediately scrubbed in to assist. I popped in to see how they were doing to find our UK anaesthetist Dr. Karen and our Ghanaian anaesthetist Eric talking through advanced sedation techniques that were suddenly required due to the complexity of the case. Meanwhile Dan and Simon were able to successfully complete the surgery during which they explained to me that they were medical school classmates, best men at each other’s weddings but have never once operated together until that very moment. What a memory for them.
After our tomato soup, cashew-beef, rice and yam fries dinner (I know, right?!), Soale who leads NEA operations shared with us two important observations from today. Firstly, he noticed that his people were really touched emotionally by the care they received. A very elderly woman that Dr. Charlie and our nursing team cared for said to Soale, “Who said the world is bad now? Look at these people who come from another continent to help us beyond measure.” Secondly he shared a verse in the Bible from Psalm 133:1 that says “How good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters live together in unity.” He feels that the unity between the NEA leadership and the Ghana Health Team leadership and the unity amongst all of our team members is driving the success of this program. He thanked God for His hand on our work.
Abraham is right — this is more than mere friendship. It is about friends new and old who are wholeheartedly united in purpose and who truly do believe it is possible to make a difference in this great big world.
PS: We got your message Nicky Blunt and you name is already on the list for 2019!
PPS: We might just be teasing Josh Smith a lot over how much his family loves him.