We were told to expect 150-250 people at most on the first day. Instead, we along with our Navy counterparts actually treated over 500 people during the first day of operations, close to 800 on the second day, and over 1000 on the third day! Even though the site is rural and not easily accessible, word of the clinic spread fast and people traveled for miles to seek medical care from the American medical team.
Project HOPE Nurse Fran Bauer spent the first day helping in the Women's Clinic, where she was impressed with the prenatal care that the Ghanaian women receive. Each woman is seen several times during her pregnancy, and all exam information is recorded in a booklet that she brings to each appointment. Teaching is ongoing during the pregnancy and continues well into the postpartum period. Fran also learned several Ghanaian phrases used in maternal-child nursing!
Doctors Russell Bowman and Keith Williams were kept busy all day long seeing a steady stream of patients. For the most part, the patients were healthier than those seen in Liberia, but several newly diagnosed cases of high blood pressure were found and referred for treatment. Dr. Bowman remarked that here one is challenged to use one's knowledge base and instincts to make a diagnosis, rather than relying on the tests and diagnostic procedures used in an American medical practice. "We just say, 'this is what you have' and treat it," he said.
Nurse Cathy Blair-Perrine and myself were in the front of the clinic triaging patients, weighing children, and taking blood pressure. "It's clear how important this clinic is to the people because they all came dressed in their Sunday-best clothes," said Cathy.
With the masses of people dressed in brightly colored native dress, order was maintained with the help of the Ghanaian police and armed forces, and local nurses helped with translation, as most of the patients spoke a local dialect, Twe, and not English.
"Working with the local providers is one of the best parts of this mission, as they are able to teach us as much as we teach them," remarked Blair-Perrine.
In the spirit of being a part of the mission from beginning to end, HOPE doctors and nurses were all involved in the clean-up of the grounds after the clinic was done. Clinic workers were amazed and grateful to see that the team would all participate to make sure their workplace was left without any litter as a result of the visit.
Volunteers Bauer, Blair-Perrine, and Bowman concluded their rotation and left for home after the Ghana site was concluded, with the thanks of the participants of Africa Partnership Station. "Project HOPE volunteers were integral to the success of this mission," said Lt. CDR Rommel Flores.
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