The five Africa Partnership Station Project HOPE volunteers have just completed the first phase of their mission in Liberia. The volunteers, along with their counterparts in the U.S. Navy, helped stage a health fair in Freeport to address acute health issues of the people living there.
Volunteers Dr. Russell Bowman, an emergency room doctor from Sitka, Alaska, and Internist/Surgeon Dr. Keith Williams, were instrumental in helping treat the more than 2000 patients that came through the medical site during the three-day health fair.
Dr. Williams was able to do a few simple surgical procedures in addition to seeing patients. More complex surgical patients were referred to Redemption Hospital down the street, where free care was provided. “I only wished I could have done more,” he says.
Nurses Fran Bauer from Apalachicola, Florida, Cathy Blair-Perrine, from Chester, Virginia and myself, Cherri Dobson, from Oakland, California, were also kept very busy.
Cathy used her organizational skills to set up a separate injection station for the many patients needing shots, and worked non-stop to perfect the patient flow process. She was also able to manage some health education teaching for both her patients and her Liberian nurse counterpart.
Fran and I manned the triage station, determining each patient’s most pressing medical concern and making sure they were seen by the correct provider.
Sometimes it was a challenge trying to figure out what the patients were really there for because they use different terminology for their ailments than we do in the U.S. We relied on the soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia who helped provide crowd control at the site to also 'translate' for us.
They were an invaluable aid, and were very compassionate towards the people.
All the volunteers expressed satisfaction with the experience in Liberia, and we all look forward to our next assignment in Ghana.
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