Scrubbing in to assist in our first surgery together :)
This week in Ghana has been incredible! We began our rotations at the hospitals and clinics in Winneba and I have learned so much already. However, not just about West African medicine practices but also of the many differences in the health care system itself.
On Monday I got to spend my day in the pediatric ward at the Municipal Hospital. When I arrived I was first given a tour of the facility. It is basically two small rooms divided based upon age. There are only about 15 beds. Immediately I noticed differences between how their facilities are run compared to those back home in the US. For example privacy is almost non-existent here in Ghana. There are no privacy curtains, and often nurses are conversing about patients in front of other families. Also on the tour I was shown where I could keep my lunch and drinks in the lounge fridge and they proceeded to tell me that they also keep their patients medication there. Needless to say, things are done a little differently here in Ghana. While in the ward, I met two children, an eight year old and a twelve year old who both had severe second degree burns. I watched the nurses as they redressed the wounds and it was one of the most painful processes I have witnessed. The eight year old was such a small young girl but her hand was swollen to almost three times the size. The epidermis was completely gone on her arm and the pink and white flesh was painful just to look at. What is amazing however was the strength of such a young child. While the pain must have been unbearable she was so strong and brave throughout the process.
On Tuesday I went to do outreach services in the Winneba community. I was stationed with three nurses and a health educator/counselor that lives in that very community. We came with just a small cooler of immunizations and a few supplies. We were seated at a table right next to the fishing area on the ocean. The view was beautiful! While we set up the scale (which is simply a wooden stand where the babies are hung on a swing tied to a scale.. I will have to post a picture!) the health educator went out to gather the mothers that need to bring their babies to check their growth and give their scheduled immunizations. I got to help weigh the babies, record their weights, and even give some of the immunizations (including the rotoviris, polio, pneumococcal, and penta vaccine)!
Today, however, was one of the best days I’ve had in Ghana so far! I was in the surgical theatre at the Municipal Hospital and got to witness three surgeries and a circumcision. The first of the day was a cesarean section, and I can honestly say that seeing a baby being born is one of the most incredible experiences I have had in my life! The second surgery was putting a plate in for traction in a woman’s lower leg as her tibia and fibula were completely broken in half. Before the final surgery I was taken by surprise when the nurses asked if I’d like to “scrub in.” I excitedly said I’d love to and I washed up, put on the operating room boots (no footies in Ghana I guess), and my sterile gloves and apron on. I assisted in removing a bunion and the doctor that was performing the surgery even said I could help stitch up the next one when I come back tomorrow! I can’t wait for what is in store for me for the rest of the trip!
We’re in Winneba now, and I have honestly already seen more than I could ever explain.. between the beautiful clothing, music playing in the streets, the great hospitality we have here with Manuel and his family, and the delicious meals he cooks for us, I could literally just go on and on.
We found out what our schedule would be at the health care clinics today and I am overwhelmingly excited! We have been given such an amazing opportunity here to learn about the medicine in Ghana. I will get to see a variety of different hospitals and clinics including the trauma, surgery, maternity and pediatrics units!
Today we took a tour around the market with an environmental officer and saw some of the downsides of this beautiful country. I witnessed endless trash and litter in the streets and drainage system, and poor food and water sanitation. But these were just a few of the problems that stuck out to me today. I wish I could just solve them at with the click of a button but of course it is never that easy..
Most of all I just feel lucky to be with such an amazing group of people this summer. I couldn’t ask for a better bunch of people to grow and share this unique experience with.
In the center of this photos is a OB/GYN Physician, Dr. Luiz Amousou. Dr. Amousou is the Director of the Effutu Municipality Division of the Ghana Health Service here in Winneba. He is pictured with the students who he has arranged service-learning opportunities for at four local hospitals and three local clinics. Dr. Amousou promises to be an excellent partner in education for Grand Valley students.
Much of Dr. Amousou’s time is spent performing difficult deliveries and providing consultation to complicated pregnancies as well as directing an impressive public health organization. You will be hearing a great deal more about him as we progress in our journey. Thank you Dr. Amousou for your generosity of spirit.
Well I’m finally here in GHANA! It’s only day three and it has already been quite the trip!
Yesterday we took a tour around Accra and got to see so much! We watched the West African Olympic track tryouts, visited an art market (which was quite the experience!), saw the US embassay and where the first Ghanian president was buried, tried a mango, shopped at a night market and saw a monkey!
Today we have our orientation and begin our classes at the University of Ghana! I’m excited to get started with classes, learn more of the local language, and explore Ghana :)