Missing Ghana

November 30th, 2014 by Dennis Salter
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It is a cold, white winter day here in Wisconsin.  But my heart is warm as I spent a wonderful Thanksgiving day with my family and friends.  And yes, I miss my Ghana family very much!  At times I weep for them.  I connect on viber with some of them and it puts a big smile on my face and joy in my heart.   I miss the warm weather and I miss the loving culture.  I miss seeing the children as they wait to go to school.  I miss Frank, Prince, Charles, Esther, and all the ER staff.  I miss Dr. Ben, Dr. Amponseh, and Dr. BB.  I miss Hawiyu and Frank, two awesome physician assistants.  I miss all of the beautiful staff – too numerous to name everyone – who day after day are taking care of the patients as they come to Wenchi Methodist Hospital, a hospital that is truly a lifeline for many.  Here are pictures that help me to hold Wenchi in my heart.


DSC03055  DSC03061

Back in Wisconsin

November 25th, 2014 by Dennis Salter
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Well, sadly, I am back in Wisconsin.  Oh, it’s not that I am not grateful to see the love of my life, Bette.  She is an awesome woman and an awesome wife.  I love her!  But I would just as soon be with her back in Ghana!  I miss Ghana so much, it actually hurts.  I have shed some tears since leaving on November 20th.  It was terribly difficult to leave Frank at the airport.  He was so kind to escort me to Accra and then to the airport to see me off.  I love Frank as a son.  One of the hazards of the job of missions is that you leave much of your heart behind!  But your heart seems to enlarge so that you have something to give.


Prior to leaving, I was visited by Bernard Botwe and some other members of the hospital administrative team.  Bernard told me that I was an excellent INMED candidate and he had already communicated this with Cameron Gongwer.  Bernard was very complimentary of my contribution to Wenchi, including my presentation on Ebola.  I am grateful that I had such an excellent connection in Wenchi.


I will return to Ghana soon.  But first, I will be deploying on December 12th to Liberia as part of the team working in an Ebola Treatment Unit.  That is sure to  be another impacting mission.

Back in America

November 21st, 2014 by Dennis Salter
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I returned from Ghana to America on November 20th.  I arrived in Chicago and stayed overnight with family.  I just arrived back in Wisconsin this evening.  I have not come home.  Perhaps I have returned to America, but it is not home to me.  As the saying goes “home is where the heart is”.  My heart is with the forgotten of the earth such as the dear people of Ghana, the richest people I know.  Where my heart is, that is my home.  It is my prayer that I will serve the developing world well, full time, in these days.  This service learning experience has been a launching pad and a strategic time in my life.  By the grace of God, I will reach for the prize set before me and I will continue to serve as a medical professional to “the least of these” with my Diploma in International Medicine and Public Health.

Counting the Days

November 17th, 2014 by Dennis Salter
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No, I am not counting the days as in I can hardly wait to leave.  Far from it!  I am counting the days because I am already sad to think I leave in two days.  I fly out to Accra on Wednesday morning and then fly out that night to London and eventually Chicago.


Sad because I have a new family and friends here!  Yesterday I was part of a fufu cookout!  Nothing like it and it is more than the food, it is the fellowhip and the relationships that come of this.  And age is clearly no barrier.  Most of the guys were in their 20s but it didn’t make any difference and I was definitely an honored guest and friend, but more than that, I was one of them.  For that there is no greater compliment.


My presentation went very well on Friday.  Almost forgot to blog about that!  It was attended by most of the staff and it was complete with projector for my powerpoints.  I even had a laser pointer to emphasize along the way.  The presentation was on Ebola and the latest information regarding the science, the spread and the precautions.  Ghana has committed money to Ebola Treatment Units to key regions and there is one not too far from Wenchi.


So, as the day of departure approaches, I am drinking every moment of the wonderful African culture that has taught me so much, embraced me, and received from me my expertise in emergency and critical care.  Sampson, the nurse manager and hospital matron, completed my evaluation today and gave it to me.  It was thoughtful and applicable to my service learning experience and objectives.


Ghana, I love you!


November 15th, 2014 by Dennis Salter
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In a word, that’s what makes it so refreshing to wake up each day here in Ghana.  From the time I walk to the hospital to the time I go home, I am greeted by the smiles, laughs, and energy of the children.  They love to say “hi” and “bye”!  And they do that with gusto!  Throughout the day, I am asked to consult and give feedback into a patient’s presentation or a procedure that must be done.  It has been such a wonderful atmosphere to learn and to teach!  I can honestly say this has been a highlight in my life and I will miss life in Ghana.


Even though cholera and malaria visit often, there is great success and immediate gratification on a daily basis as you bring people through the acute phase of these illnesses.  Cholera comes on fast and furious and can be fatal.  Sadly, we have lost one since I have been here.  Malaria is so common, and, it too is a serious illness, especially in children.  The list is long with the number of children with hemoglobins of less than 4.0.  We transfuse when less than this or when the patient is so symptomatically anemic.  Sadly, we have lost one 4 month old to malaria.  But again, overall, we have great victories.  I only wish we could treat more than we do.

Cassava, Zinc, and Poverty

November 13th, 2014 by Dennis Salter
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No, these don’t necessarily relate to each other, but I thought it would get your attention.  Cassava is the staple root “vegetable” of Ghana, Zinc is often used in the treatment of diarrhea, and poverty…well, you be the judge of what true poverty is.  I told you they don’t relate…but perhaps they do?


Today we had another case of malaria (it never seems to be lacking around here).  Diarrhea is always in the running with our patients here too.  We had zinc in our treatment plan for one of our patients.  Zinc is sometimes used to shorten the episode of diarrhea and to lengthen the time before a recurring episode.  Many diseases of poverty have diarrhea as one of the symptoms.


After a full day at the hospital, I went to the market area of Wenchi.  As I was waiting for Frank to come and meet me, I was sitting near the round about.  I saw a man selling cassava from a wheel barrow.  I imagined that he did this day in and day out as a small farmer, making his living.  I don’t recall what people pay for Cassava but it isn’t alot if I recall.  This man somehow makes his living on this.


Later on I walked with one of the hospital staff nurses, an ENT specialist, to his home.  He stays in housing owned by the hospital.  It was very humble and very small.  I met his two children, Blessing and Amazing Love.  I also met his sister.  His wife is a school teacher.  Now these are two very educated people in Ghana living in a very small, somewhat rundown place.  I have seen how the uneducated here live (most of Ghana I am told), and it is really beyond words.  My two bedroom apartment would look like a castle to them.  Our American poor would appear rich to these people.


Hey!  Cassava, zinc and poverty do relate!  At least here in Ghana.  You see, Cassava is a staple that at least some can afford (perhaps the more educated).  Here in Ghana, people live with diarrheal diseases such as malaria, much like the common cold is to Americans.  And here in Ghana, poverty really is poverty, not just having less than you “want”.  In Ghana, needs are often stretched!


It is quite an injustice to think about how much I have and how little these people have.  Be thankful each day for what you have and give as you are able to those who really do have a need.

A picture of a malaria complication

November 12th, 2014 by Dennis Salter
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RollandHere is a picture of that 4 year old sweet boy who needs a miracle.  His kidneys have been affected.  Please pray for Rolland.

Rhonda the Rat

November 12th, 2014 by Dennis Salter
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Are you intrigued?  Yes folks, I came home from the hospital about 11:30 last night, turned on the light in my room and I saw Rhonda scurry from the top shelf and ran under my bed.  Now I like to share, but I was in no mood to share the night with Rhonda.  I made alot of noise and Rhonda ran out of my room, and I can’t say for sure where she ended up.  But I decided she wasn’t welcome.  I put a towel down in the space between the floor and my door before I went to bed.


The clinical experience keep getting to the heart of my studies….some dysentery, oxygen saturation around 70%, dehydration……  Let’s not forget malaria.  How could we!  It happens daily.  It seems many Ghanians expect a bout of malaria when it comes.  The sadness is that my little buddy who is four years old, appears to have glomerular nephritis as a result of malaria.  Fortunately, this isn’t the most common serious consequence but he is in for a long road without serious intervention.  Even people with mosquito nets say they don’t use them.  But of course, they are the solution in many cases of prevention.


Let’s top this all off with a scalp laceration, ruptured appendix, a couple of hernias, and treating diarrheal disease and dehydration.  All in a days work.


Serving here is my pleasure and my privilege.  I thank God everyday that I get to do this and that I get to give my life in medical missions/outreach.

At Home

November 10th, 2014 by Dennis Salter
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It is so great to become part of the team here.  I don’t feel at all like a stranger or a visitor.  The longer I am there, the more I get into the day to day struggles and challenges of caring for these dear people.


It is a great experience to have the theory of the hybrid course come to life in real people!  Today I was in on the delivery of a new baby.  The mother found out after she became pregnant that she was HIV +.  She started Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) to Prevent Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT).  Mom delivered a beautiful baby girl.  The baby was posterior presentation.  The cord was around the neck but the cord was clamped and cut and everything turned out well.  Hopefully the baby will not be HIV +.


I also had a newly diagnosed sickle cell patient in the ER.  He had been having unexplained episodes of pain and he actually asked us to test him.  The test came back positive for Sickle Cell.


It is official!  My presentation will definitely be on Ebola and I am presenting this on Friday to all staff.  Mr. Botwe is eager to have all staff present and he is highly encouraging staff to attend.  The challenge is to present the infection control recommendations within this low resource environment.


November 9th, 2014 by Dennis Salter
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Today I went back to Emmanuel Congregation.  My friend Frank was with family in Sunyani so I went on my own!  It was great!  I really am becoming part Ghanian.  But isn’t that what God intends for us when we are in another culture/nation.  We are to become immersed in who they are.  I love this country and I know it is because Jesus loves them!  He hasn’t forgotten them, not by a long shot!


Now remember, this is Ghana, a third world country with most people having practically nothing.  But they understand truth better than anyone I have ever met.  They talked about how a true Christian can’t obtain an imperishable crown if they love money, if they have immorality in their lives, if they dress immodestly, if they have pride (these are the answers they gave in the study when asked the question).  They also talked about how we must have self control and discipline to live the Christian life.  And they stated that “the world has nothing for us”.


I don’t know if I am painting a great picture of what I heard and experienced.  But I am trying to portray that this church is the real deal, ready for what’s coming in trials and persecutions, ready to give up everything for God, ready to lay everything down!  I had to do some soul searching and ask myself….am I?  Are you?


Yup, the Ghana church of Jesus Christ is alive and well and growing and serious about what it means to call themselves Christian.  I saw that at the methodist church two weeks ago as well.  No doubt, I will see it next week also.  I have been invited to “Living Faith” church next Sunday, by Dr. Ben.  Dr. Ben is a doctor and pastor of his church.  An awesome man and I love talking to him.


Speaking of Dr. Ben.  He called me around 4:30 pm today and said he was doing a c section if I wanted to come to the theatre.  I jumped at the chance so I got to be part of a very difficult c section for a woman.  It was touch and go and the babies life was in jeopardy, but thank the Lord, the baby did revive and seems to be doing well.  The baby was in the oddest position and Dr. Ben couldn’t get the baby out at first.  All seems to be well now.  He told me he had never had one like this and was very concerned.  He talked about how he prays for God’s help all the time.  This is what your prayers do!  Thanks for praying, as I was, during this time.  You may never know all the things that happen because of what you pray.


The experience here just keeps getting richer and richer.  I am thankful!