Thursday, February 26, 2009

Project HOPE Volunteers Begin Work in Ghana

These missions require some adjustment for Project HOPE volunteers including learning to live in small quarters, learning to love stair climbing and also learning to work on military time. What I mean by military time is the hours they use, 24 instead of 12 for the am and 12 for the pm, and also their really early rise and meal times. Hot breakfast is from 6:00 am to 7:00 am and you miss a nice, warm breakfast of things like eggs, bacon or sausage and sometimes French toast if you show up late. Also, dinner is from 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm which is probably early for most people. However, this schedule has been great for the volunteers as their work day hours, 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, seem to work well with the Ghanaian health workers they work with. Also, the whole APS team has been super accommodating to us and helpful.

Project HOPE volunteers began their first day of working side-by-side with their Ghanaian counterparts today. Although we all seemed to make it to breakfast on time we fumbled a little because our drivers were late and Michael was sorting medications this morning to take to both locations. Michael, like he did last year, brought some medications with him. He is an expert on tropical diseases, having traveled to many countries like Ghana to provide care to the communities. But they still made it to their locations and seemed to all have a great time. The people in Ghana are as friendly and lively as I remembered them from last year, so our volunteers are bonding really well with their counterparts.

After making sure everyone was on their way, I went with the second group to Essikado Hospital. This is a relatively small hospital that does see some emergency patients and also women in labor but functions more like a clinic. When we arrived we were taken to the hospital administrator’s office and met with the administrative staff and also the head doctor, Dr. Paul. They all seemed excited to have us there and asked where the volunteers would like to work. Dr. Paul seemed especially excited. Essikado is a 24-hour facility with two doctors, one dentist and an x-ray tech that doubles as a radiologist. After the meeting the volunteers were given a tour and lead to where they would be working.

Meanwhile, I went to go run an errand in the city of Takoradi. The goal was to purchase cheap phones for use while in Ghana and also the kind that can be used worldwide so we could keep them for Project HOPE and reuse them. We went to this area where lots of people, hundreds, had little shops along the roads and whatever other empty space they might find. They sold everything from shoes to jewelry and cell phones. The place is buzzing with people shopping, selling and also on their soap box. Along our route there was a gentleman, whom I couldn't understand, speaking excitedly into a microphone about something? I imagine he was either preaching or talking about politics. After trying to bring the prices for each phone down to 30 Ghana Cedi at three different stores we settled on two phones each for 40 Ghana Cedi. The same phone would have been 20 Cedi cheaper in Accra but we tried to bargin with multiple locations in Takoradi and could not get the same price.

When I got back to the Essikado hospital it was hard to find the volunteers. I should have gone on the tour. The first volunteer I found was Marina Rivera, the x-ray tech. Marina is a very fun person. She's pretty laid back and really enjoying sharing her knowledge with the x-ray techs she works with. This is her second mission with HOPE and she is very proud to be HOPE's only x-ray tech in the volunteer database. When I approached the x-ray room, I saw a light sign to the side of the door that lit up when a x-ray was being done so no one would walk in and even though it was off I still knocked because I just wasn't too sure. I found out later that the sign doesn't work so knocking was a good thing. In the room Marina introduced me to the x-ray tech. His name is Prince and he has a smile that just lights up the room. He's probably in his late 20's. Prince works everyday of the week but no weekends. However, he is on call since he is the only x-ray tech. Because the hospital is open 24-hours a day he is also on call every night.

The x-ray room at Essikado is nice. Their equipment is newer and works. Marina took the time to show me around and talk to me a little about x-rays and how they are made. Marina is not only going to be helping x-ray dental work she is also going to be helping Prince with the positioning of patients for the x-rays among other things.

Although the air in the x-ray room was really nice I went to find Lara, the midwife. As I was looking for her I ran into her and Michael. They had just assisted in two cases so I followed her to her next stop—the labor unit. The labor unit at Essikado is very small. The women who have had their babies were in a room next to the labor room, which only had two beds. When Lara began to work there was only one woman in the labor room. In Essikado they deliver close to 80 babies a month or three a day. The woman was 9 cm dilated. Every time she had a contraction Lara held her hand and told her she was doing great. Lara also learned how to use a tool that I had never seen before. It is used for listening to the fetus’ heartbeat. It was a long metal tube with a hole running through it, it almost looked like a clown horn without the squeeze top. I don’t know what it is called, so if you do, send me a comment. The baby never came while I was there but I had a good time observing.

When I went back to Michael he was sitting in the office of Dr. Paul and they were both seeing patients together. They would share information with each other and try to help the patient together. A woman in who was pregnant and complaining of a pain in her stomach. After further investigation they realized that she had not been taking her medicines for hypertension for two weeks even though it was a risk for her baby.

Towards the end of the day I went outside. The hospital is made of small rooms and offices facing courtyards. Gabriel was also outside because her “shift had ended” and sitting next to a little girl named Amrita. She was showing Amrita how to spell her name, the abc’s and numbers. They were inseparable until we had to leave.


1 comment:

  1. Marisol--that instrument is called a fetoscope.
    Say hello to my buddies Earl, Gaby, and Rina from Cherri for me !