Sunday, April 10, 2016

Okanagan Community Clinic Nyoboko

Okanagan Community Clinic Team
Last week we had the opportunity to spend 3 days at the Okanagan Community Clinic in Nyoboko working with the staff to provide health screening, help with child welfare clinics and connect with the community. This clinic is very dear to our hearts as it was built in collaboration with UBC alumni Dr. Vida Yakong. It is one of the newest clinics in the area as well as one of the most rural. Although the clinic has been operating for a year and a half it still does not have electricity, running water or a nurses' residence. The nurses stationed at the clinic are commuting anywhere from half an hour to an hour from their homes into work everyday. Despite the set backs created by the lack of resources at the clinic, the staff working there are some of the most innovative, resourceful and compassionate healthcare workers we have met along our journey.

Jeanette told us many stories of an incredible nurse named Philomon who was running the clinic all by himself when the students visited last year. Sadly, Jeanette informed us that he had been reassigned to a different site in Ghana, however, on our arrival to the clinic we were surprised to see Philomon himself there to greet us. It was a wonderful surprise and a very joyful reunion  as Jeanette was not expecting to see him at all! Even more amazing is that there are now 5-6 nurses working at the clinic along side Philomon...a very exciting improvement from last year!

Health Screening and Child Welfare Clinic
Word of our health screening had been spread throughout Nyobok and first morning at the clinic, rows of benches were filled with people eager to address their health issues. Spending the day with these community members gave us a sense of how tightly knit the community of Nyobok is. It was amazing to see the turnout of individuals who wanted health screening, and who are now registered clients of the clinic. In the three days we were at the clinic we screened over 200 individuals, which was slightly overwhelming for the staff who usually only see 10-15 clients on average per day. Although it was busy, the staff were happy to see the community come together and share this experience with us.

As the first day was winding down, we heard that there was a young woman who had just given birth
Nyboko Ambulance
in the community without medical assistance. Stephanie went with Philomon and Lillian (another nurse at the clinic) to provide this woman and her new baby with care. Traveling via motorbike they cruised through rural, northern Ghana along small, well-used trails that connect residence to residence. When they arrived at the compound of traditional mud-hut, they found this women to be experiencing a postpartum hemorrhage. All three nurses intervened quickly and Philomon rushed to arrange for transport so that this woman to get the help she needed. The newborn baby boy was healthy and doing well at this time. When the transport arrived Stephanie was amazed to see that the motorized tricycle carriage was provided by Project GROW and had been donated by Gifts to Grandmothers and St. Charles Garnier Catholic Church in Kelowna. Had this carriage not been available, this new mother would have had a very difficult time getting the care she needed. It was amazing to see the direct impact that donations from our community at home make. The woman and her new baby received the care they needed and returned back to their home the next morning.

Child Welfare Clinic
On our last day at the clinic Philomon organized a Child Welfare Day where mothers could bring in their infants and toddlers to measure their weight and to receive vaccinations if needed - this information was then marked in their child's personal health book to keep track of their development. If any child was underweight a nurse would educate the mother about proper nutrition, how to maintain a proper weight and do a further assessment if required. This hectic day ran later than our past two and so everyone was feeling quite drained of energy by the end...luckily we had some impromptu entertainment by a large group of school kids who were playing "copy-cat" in the field behind the clinic with our fellow students, creating a lot of laughter from the staff as well as the patients still waiting to be seen.

Our days at the Nyobok Clinic gave us a lot of joy and made all of us appreciate the work that we do at home in raising funds to support clinics just like this one. Although it was frustrating at times where we were unable to communicate with the community members we found that these were always followed by opportunities to soothe a crying baby or provide comfort to an elderly women by giving her a back rub; all actions not requiring a word.

We can't wait to return one day to see the progress our continuing support will bring to this amazing community!

-Mairi Horth, Victoria Cluett, Mara Macauley, Stephanie Townsend and Shannon Macdonald

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