Report of Operation Hernia's Mission to Ho Volta Regional Hospital

November 2013

The Stats!

Location

  • Volta Regional Hospital in Ho, located in the Volta Region to the west of Ghana
  • Approximately 3 hours drive from the capital city, Accra

Personnel

  • From the UK: 3 consultant surgeons, 2 surgical registrars, one scrub nurse
  • Charge nurse Sister Josephine, who managed everything!
  • More than 10 theatre staff who rotated between recovery and theatre
  • Experienced anaesthetic nurses who could give spinals faster than we could scrub!

Patients

  • 98 patients were recruited,  97 patients operated

Facilities

  • Initially three theatres, with the fourth emergency theatre being made available to us on the final 2 days.
  • Fixed operating lights and mobile lights
  • Sutures, gloves, instruments and mesh were brought by the team
  • 2 diathermy machines present from previous trips, we brought a third
  • Unfortunately no air conditioning was available due to maintenance

Hospitality

  • We received 5-star treatment from hospital administration and theatre staff
  • Food and water between cases
  • Constant care and attention to our every need!

 

The Story

We congregate at the Baptist Guest house prior to departing to Ho. We meet Mr Oppong who has already arrived early, full of energy and knows everyone’s name.  We all feel instantly special. We meet Bernard our hospital representative, who has already been coordinating things behind the scenes.  A quick breakfast is followed by us loading up into our respective vehicles and the journey to Ho begins. It a beautiful 2.5hr trip, but one full of contrasts. The beautiful lush landscapes give way all too frequently to little townships, were the even from our vehicle we can see the poverty that so many live in. Grand buildings are side by side with mud huts, small mansions next to tin shacks.  Our driver is enthusiastic, and often has to be reminded that we are not thrill seekers. The road is in relatively good condition with the usual perils of overloaded motorcycles, formula one-esque taxi drivers and the ubiquitous tro-tro (public minibus).  

Our prayers are answered and we arrive safely at our accommodation. Our residence can only be described as beautiful. To say more would be to tempt you to join the mission for all the wrong reasons!

After a brief lunch we visited the Volta Regional Hospital. We meet the director of surgery, his administrator, head of finance and a senior surgical resident.  We are welcomed into a conference room as if we were visiting dignitaries!  After introductions and a heartfelt welcome it is time to see the rest of the hospital and staff.  It’s a relatively new building, we are told as we walk around.  All the buildings are bungalow style sprawling as far as eye can see.  Fortunately the walks between the buildings are shaded. The first thing commented on however by our senior visiting surgeon was the ample parking available. I think this alone made his day!

On to the ward to see the patients preoperatively.  They have been selected over a period of months, and are eagerly awaiting our arrival.  As we enter the ward they have been patiently waiting for us and applaud spontaneously.  After a warm welcome by the ward sister, complete with crushing hugs, we begin to see the patients.  All the patients are admitted the night before surgery. We reviewed 21 patients, there was only one DNA.  What impressed all of us was how organised the nursing and medical teams had been.  From blood results to simple clinical notes, everything was in place, and we were able to review and assess all the patients in just over an hour.  An impossible feat in the UK!  We returned back to our accommodation in the evening, arms full of food that had also been gifted to us.

The week is made up of grueling 15 hours shift days where we operate, ward round,  clinics and  data collect tirelessly, whilst supported by the brilliant hospital staff, who do overtime to allow us to finish the cases.  Our fatigue is quickly forgotten when we see the gratitude of the patients when their operation is completed.  Most have travelled many miles to arrive, and wait patiently for their turn with no complaints.

We were pleased to finish all operations successfully on Friday with no complications. We were rewarded with our first social night out where we went for dinner and drinks, dressed in traditional wear that had been gifted to us by the Hospital staff.  We left the following day, all of us promising to return the following year!

Special Thanks

To all the theatre staff at Volta Regional Hospital, Bernard, and Mr Chris Oppong.

Miriam Adedibe

Naami McAddy