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Posted By: Jen Selby on March 4, 2011

Labels: Africa , Ghana , Volunteers

Another day in the Emergecny Room at the Effia Nkwanta Regional Hospital in Ghana today. I have successfully become “one of the staff”. I still need to get used to being called “Sister” as that is what nurses are called here.

The majority of my cases today were pediatric malaria patients. Here, malaria is divided into simple malaria and severe malaria. If you have simple malaria you get a prescription for medication and go home. If you have severe malaria you have a high fever, dehydration, low blood pressure, and elevated heart rate. Simple malaria cases are treated in the OPD (outpatient department) which is basically an urgent care center. The severe malaria cases are seen in Casualty where I am working.

Today I took care of five different babies with severe malaria. They were all very dehydrated and had high fevers. I started IVs on them and administered antimalarial medications. All were admitted to the pediatric ward. One 4-year-old girl had had a seizure at home prior to arrival and had a lumbar puncture done in the ER. She likely has cerebral malaria, a very serious condition.

Now that I have gained the trust of the nursing staff they are eager to learn from me and find out what being an ER nurse in the U.S. is about. One of my main goals is to work on their triage system, as currently it is nonexistent and patients are largely seen in the order in which they arrive, rather than by how sick or injured they are.

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