Thursday- June 10th, 2010
Today was a somewhat similar, but different day to the previous ones. I arrived at our placement a little after 8 in the morning and went to check out the antenatal ward (what we call prenatal). There, they have a daily ritual around 830AM. Each morning around that time, every pregnant patient in the waiting room sings and prays for about 20 minutes. There is one head nurse that leads the session and everyone stands up and sings in their native language ewe. It was overwhelming to see around 30 pregnant women in one waiting room all singing and praying. One of the nurses said to me that they sing and pray each day for their babies to be born healthy.
After an interesting start to the morning, I decided to check out the surgery ward. After going in there and talking with the surgical nurse, she made me change into a sterile outfit and shoes so that I wouldn't contaminate the surgery room. This was somewhat surprising because of the general lack of sanitation in the hospital; I did not expect their surgical ward to be clean. The nurse took me around to the patients changing rooms, then we put on a face mask for sanitary reasons and she showed me their smaller surgery room for deliveries and c-sections. This room was rather plain, but I guess it works for them. There is a metal table with the leg spreaders and a chair for the doctor or nurse. Basically other than that there was just a small tray for medical equipment.
After seeing this room, we went to look at the main surgery room. This room was my favorite, mainly because it was the only room in the hospital with air conditioning, felt so good! In the surgery room, there was a padded surgical table with an overhead light, and basic medical supplies. It was a fairly large room and I was somewhat surprised to see how clean it was in there. Then, the nurse showed me their scrub in/out room. There was one basic sink with a bar of soap, and two autoclaves. I was happy to see that they have sterilizing equipment like that. Once we left this room, it was back to the heat, no more AC! The nurse then showed me the other surgery room, but she said that it is not in use because some of the equipment in there has been broken for a while. Before leaving the tour, I asked her several questions including the most popular surgeries and around how many per day. The nurse said that the most popular surgeries were c-sections and minor surgeries for wounds (stitching, suturing, etc.).
It was awesome to see the surgical ward, and I am glad that I stopped in there because they said I can sit in on a surgery anytime. However, their surgery schedules revolve around the doctors. For example, a woman was supposed to have surgery at 9AM yesterday but the doctor decided to show up at two hours late. This is not surprising, since everyone in Ghana runs on "Ghana time." I have learned that there really is no such thing as time here. It is nice in a way, but just not what I am used to. Somehow it works for them here. You tell someone that you will meet them somewhere at 5PM, and they will show up at 7PM without saying sorry. It is quite normal. For example, when our cab is supposed to pick us up at 1130AM from out placement, usually it's near 12PM when they show up. Anyways, the doctors do not seem to care that the patients are waiting for them at a certain time; they just come when they want to. Next week, they said that they have a few surgeries lined up that I can see, so I am looking forward to that.
After my feedback session with the program director Makafui, I told him that I would like to explore the health care more into the community. Since I am at a government hospital (Hohoe government hospital), they are very strict on who can do what, and since I am not licensed I can really only observe and take vital signs are probably the most hands on experience I can get there. So I talked with Makafui and tried to come up with some other placements for me during the week so that I can get more hands on experience. Next week I will still have about two days at the hospital, but the other three days I will split between one day of teaching classes at the schools about health education- especially malaria prevention, HIV/STD awareness and education, etc. The other two days I will be going to the herbal medicine doctor and the bone doctor. Makafui told me that I will really like the bone doctor because the hospitals do not fix broken bones; they send them to the "bone doctor" in town. Supposedly, I will be able to have more hands on experience there helping the doctor and other exciting things there. I am also looking forward to seeing and speaking with the herbal medicine specialist. They have a few shacks around here that say "Herbal medicine," but Makafui has a good connection with one of them so I will start going there next week.
Tomorrow we will be going to Lake Volta for the weekend. I am excited to be going there, it's supposed to be really pretty. It's the largest manmade lake in Africa! We will be leaving tomorrow around 1PM and returning on Sunday night. Should be a good time!