Thursday, January 5, 2012

Third Day at Korle-Bu

Our day started with extra excitement and alertness, anxious to keep up with the schedule for today without any delay. As excited as we were to see the new patients waiting for us at Korle-Bu Hospital, we also had another big event of the day in the back of our minds; it was the meeting with the Minister of Health of Ghana, Hon. Joseph Yieleh Chireh. We were blessed with the amazing opportunity through one of our colleagues, Christin Chambers, who was able to arrange the meeting with the Minister of Health through her fortuitous acquaintance. So all of us were packed and ready for the hospital earlier than usual to make sure that we had time to see all of the patients by noon, for which was when our meeting was scheduled.

When we arrived at the hospital, we were divided up into four groups with our three supervisors and with one group joining the Audiology clinic to participate in the hearing test procedures. It was evident that the student clinicians have increasingly become more confident and effective in treating a variety of patients at the hospital, even through the pressure added by the cameras and reporters from TV-3 channel that had gotten there early before our meeting with the Minister of Health. One of the most memorable patients today was a 19-year-old male who has stuttered his whole life before coming into the Korle-Bu speech and language therapy clinic for the first time today. He demonstrated with a severe stutter during his initial assessment for speaking and reading. However, with the use of the techniques introduced by the student clinicians, such as the easy onset and Melodic Intonation Therapy, the patient was able to produce sentences and read with perfect fluency. During the interview with TV-3 right after he came out of the therapy room, he commented that he “feel[s] a lot more confident now," and that he was "glad that [he] was here."

Our meeting with Ghana's Minister of Health
With another day of adventures and excitements at the hospital behind us, we moved to the place where the meeting with the Minister of Health was held. Veronica Adjei kindly arranged this meeting for us. First, a warm word of Akwaaba (welcome) was given by the Minister of Health as well as a few other board members of the Ministry of Health that were able to join us in our meeting. Then, Dr. Crowley and a few members of our team spoke briefly about our past few years of experiences in Ghana, some of our current goals and accomplishments, and about some future, long-term goals regarding the speech and language services in Ghana, such as the establishment of the Speech and Language Pathologist training programs in Ghana as well as a possible pilot program for providing speech and language services from the United States to patients in Ghana through the use of Skype. The constructive and positive responses from the Ministry of Health throughout the meeting has unveiled a vast amount of opportunities and potential for further development of independence and sustainability for the speech and language services in Ghana.

Sowah Tetefio, Celestine Sappor, Amy Erickson,
 Pres. Victor Asante, Sheila Zotorvie, Dr. Cate Crowley,
and Dr. Emmanuel Kitcher
However, meeting with the Minister of Health was not the last crucial event of the day. Thanks to another colleague of ours, Amy Erickson, our team had been invited to have a meeting with a member of the Rotary International club in Ghana by the pool-side at a four-star hotel. We were able to discuss with them about the current and following collaborative projects regarding the Audiology department at Korle-Bu Hospital as well as the new SLP training program in Ghana.

With all the exciting events and meetings aside, famished students were happy to end the day by shopping for some groceries of our individual preferences at reasonable prices (unlike the drinks and salads at the four-star hotel...) at the Accra Mall. We will surely have enough food and snacks to sustain us through another adventurous day at the hospital!

-Jinyee Kim

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