Monday June 7th, 2010
Today was the first day of my placement in Hohoe government hospital. Upon arriving at the hospital, I must say that I was both shocked and amazed. I was shocked because of the type of care people were receiving- that is, the amount of people waiting in line to be seen by a doctor. What amazed me was the size of the hospital. I had no idea that the hospital in Hohoe would have so many different wards and staff.
On this program, there were four other girls that were placed in the hospital with me- Megan, Jess, Emma, Beth and I. When we met the hospital Director and CEO, he told us our placements for the five weeks that we are going to be here as an intern. My placement was as follows: Week 1 in Physical Therapy/Rehabilitation Services, Week 2 in the Psychiatry unit, Week 3 in the Laboratory department, Week 4 in the Female ward, and Week 5 in the Gynecology department.
After meeting with the hospital director, we met our tour guide Emanuel. He took about 2 hours to show us around the hospital. Emanuel, a local Ghanaian that works for the director of the hospital took us to each department in the hospital and introduced us to the staff in each department. Along the tour, I asked many questions to Emanuel.
The first one I asked was about the health insurance in Ghana and how they obtain health care. Interestingly, any resident of Ghana can obtain a full year of health insurance for 12 Cedi which is about 10 US Dollars. We may think this is cheap, but for them this is very expensive and most cannot afford 12 Cedis. It sure is a great system- any Ghana resident who pays the 12 Cedis and has the insurance can go to the government hospitals such as the one I am in and obtain free health services and medicine. However, there is a long wait for medical services. The Hohoe government hospital receives an average of 300 patients per day. This is quite impressive with a regional population of about 50,000 people. Emanuel stated that the Ghanaians who have the health insurance take advantage of it and go to the hospital once they have a minor cough- they mine as well go to the doctor since its free with their insurance- but this causes the hospital waiting rooms to be packed. During our tour, we saw the waiting room which was actually the outside hallways. I will never forget walking through the outside hallways and seeing at least a hundred people sitting on the side of the sidewalk with their babies to be seen by a doctor.
The second question that I asked was about the general process of the hospital and what goes on a daily basis there. Emanuel explained that the hospital is broken down into nine main departments or wards: Emergency ward, Physical Therapy/Rehabilitation Services, Psychiatry, Pharmacy, Gynecology, Laboratory, and the Female and Male ward. Walking through all of these wards was extremely sad, yet interesting. Walking through the Female ward, there was one main room about the size of two standard hospital rooms in the America. In that main room, there must have been about 25-30 women on beds scattered in the room and also outside in the hallways. Each person had their own bed- basically a white metal frame which are all somewhat rusted and patients are given a thin white sheet and a pillow.
Even though there is a major lack of supplies and equipment at the hospital, the thing that is not lacking is smiles. There are children in the hospital bed with malaria, TB, cholera, etc. and they are all smiling and happy. This is something that I would never see in America.
Back to my placement- as I previously said, I was placed in the physical therapy/rehabilitation services department this week. Even though this is not a major area of interest for me, it definitely opened up my eyes to different aspects of medicine and healing. I was introduced to the head of the department, her name is Cinderella. I am not sure if this is her real name, but she wanted to be called Cinderella- she had an amazing personality and was so funny. There was another man there named Emanuel- not the tour guide but a different guy. He is an intern at the University of Ghana in Accra- doing his internship to become a physical therapist. It was very interesting talking to him- he completed his four years of university and he just needs one more year to become a physical therapist- by completing a one year internship at the Hohoe hospital.
Emanuel showed me around the facilities and briefly introduced me to a patient that was receiving electro stimulation therapy. Then he showed me around the "gymnasium." This is where all of the rehabilitation equipment is located. Located here is several equipment such as a stationary bycicle, a mini staircase, parallel walking bars, and several other excersize equipment. He thoughourly explained to me how each machine works and how to use the machine for a patient.
Unfortunately, I only had one hour to spend with him at the department because our van was late picking us up in the morning and we took a longer than expected tour of the hospital- so it only left one hour to us which was good to have an introduction. Hopefully tomorrow I will have some patient interaction and see some more services that my department this week offers.