By Dr. Jennifer Wilson
Our day in the village started with wonderfully comfortable temperatures of 27-28 degrees and we arrived to a large but orderly crowd. The logistics team were in control and even reorganized the location of the waiting room to reduce noise outside the physician consulting area.
Our nursing team had an extremely busy day in all the stations from triage to weights and temps to diagnostics to nursing station. Jennifer M. gave the nursing report at dinner describing how Leslie just kept pulling sick babies out of the crowd, straight to Joan’s IV station and into a corner which functioned as a little paediatric ICU. Anne was extremely busy with the many kids who needed ORS (oral rehydration solution). We are thankful to report that all of these precious little ones made excellent recoveries.
Our physicians provided care to about 900 patients over these past two days in Asantekwaa and several hundred more were treated in the pain clinic. Even though we were all set up in one big room, we didn’t see much of one another as every one of us were glued to our seats and focused on our task. Facing a crowd like this can be overwhelming and paralyzing, but the approach of the entire team is to give the best care we can to the person in front of us irrespective of how many people are waiting to be seen.
Dr. Dan was the mobile surgeon today. By 11:00, his hernia line-up was finished. He thought he would take some well-deserved leisure time to enjoy some jazz music but as the earbuds went in, Dr. Carlye had other ideas. Before Dan knew it, she had him set up at the other end of her consulting table and he dove in to help us with the medical patients. After a quick refresher on how to use a stethoscope and how to turn on an otoscope, Dan re-entered the world of being a medical doctor. At supper, he gave a brief report on his experience that began with, “I smashed it!” Smashed it he did as he made some exciting diagnoses for a surgeon to make such as scabies and tinea capitus. Dr. Carlye gave him an enthusiastic thumbs up at the other end of the table for these excellent bread and butter diagnoses.
Speaking of smashed it, we do enjoy learning and trying out British phrases and vocabulary that we do not use in Canada. Dr. Magdi asked Jessica if she would like to join him in theatre and she was surprised Carpenter had a movie theatre. Despite all efforts we cannot pronounce “whilst.” Katie is one of my favourite team members because she always greets me with, “Hello, my lovely.” After a few days, I realized that she uses that phrase when talking to everyone else on the team, but nonetheless it always makes me feel so special. I’m hoping my husband might consider adopting this greeting moving forward.
Our dental station saw 46 patients today, 45 of whom were people. One of them was a scorpion. Together with the pharmacists, who were in the adjacent classroom, the beast met his demise with Sherry’s box cutter. Linda quickly made a coffin out of a pack of Zinc tablets which we use to treat kids with diarrhea. He is now in our residence freezer becoming “more dead” prior to Francois claiming him.
Our eye team saw over 200 patients in the two days in this village. They have their system down pat and miraculously are not running out of medication or eyeglasses. Martin and Marion were busy with 24 laser procedures today (according to Dr. Martin’s limerick report). These patients all leave with a laminated card explaining the details of their procedure in case they need follow up after we leave. Many of last year’s patients are constantly flowing through the eye clinic for reassessments and Dr. Mai, Dr. Josh and Dr. Pete are reporting great results of one year post laser surgery on these patients.
Our surgical program recorded 35 cases, 6 spinals and another fire. Ashley is down to one sterilizer but it has not dampened his energy or sense of humour. Special mention goes out today to our recovery team of Sue and Becky. They are responsible for the care of patients after their surgery. Becky is on the evening shift, administering medications and checking all the patients who stay over after their surgery. Sue, who I heard referred to as Mary Poppins of the program, takes the early shift and makes rounds on all the patients prior to breakfast to prepare them for discharge. These two kindhearted nurses have such long hours.
Believe it or not, our entire team (except Becky who was getting the post-op patients settled) were at the dinner table by 6:30 pm. Dr. Mensah gave an inspiring address to our group that I hope to say more about in the future. Apparently, Leslie was inquiring about NEA’s cashew and cocoa program and so David thought he would do a little show-and-tell session. He brought fruit from a cocoa tree and a cashew tree and explained them to us. NEA currently has 70 acres of cashews.
The quote that landed on the workstations of the 60 of us and all our volunteers at 3:00 pm really does reflect this day:
Each new day is a new beginning: To learn more about ourselves. To care more about others. To laugh more than we did. To accomplish more than we thought we could. And to be more than we were before. (Author Unknown)