2018 Trip Report, Our Thanks, and 2019 Dates

First the statistics, then the thanks, followed by the 2019 trip dates –

Over the 10 days that we worked in Apam in 2018, including Saturday, December 1, we performed 138 surgeries including

  • Twenty major thyroid surgeries.
  • Two bowel resections, one emergent, in a man with a strangulated hernia who otherwise would have died.
  • Two parotid surgeries – an operation that requires dissection of the facial nerve – were performed successfully.
  • A complex hernia repair, where the bladder was present in the hernia sac and a portion of it was necrotic requiring resection, was accomplished.
  • Multiple hysterectomies and pediatric hernia surgeries were also successfully completed.
  • Numerous “lumps and bumps” surgeries were performed.

We are pleased to report that all planned surgeries were completed even with the departure of Dr. Lissa Sakata and Dr. Ryan Raffel after week one. It was a very good feeling to leave Apam knowing that we did not have to reschedule a patient for next year after promising to care for her/him during this year’s trip.

The success of the surgery and gyn teams was greatly aided by newcomers Dr. William “Bill” McGuinn, anesthesiologist, and Dr. Mary Keperling, OB/GYN, both of whom performed like trip veterans. Dr. McGuinn was instrumental in getting two of our donated anesthesia machines up and running, giving the hospital three functional machines by the time we left for home. Dr. Keperling arrived for the second week and continued the leadership and great care for the women of Apam that Dr. Derek Liang and Dr. Cheyenne Cortez provided during the first week.  Of note, Dr. Trevor Teetor, a fifth-year resident in the WellSpan York Hospital surgery program, performed or was involved in, more cases than any other surgeon for the ten-day period. This proves that this experience for our residents is off the charts!

With support from the Apam Hospital staff, we were able to offer two free community health screenings during the 2018 trip. The screenings were carefully scheduled so that anyone referred to the hospital clinic could be seen by our volunteers. We believe there is room for improvement in reaching a greater number of Apamers through these screenings. This will, of course, require us to obtain additional BP cuffs, Glucose meters and strips, and other equipment/supplies. Thank you Dr. Erin Kelly for your suggestions and resources to help plan this activity for 2019.

  • Joseph the Worker Catholic Church screening: forty-four people attended the first screening. Dr. Erin Kelly and Rosie Johnson RN provided screening. Two people were referred to the ER with sugar in excess of 300; five people with BP in excess of 170 were referred to the upcoming BP clinic.
  • Methodist Church of Ghana screening: Thirty-four people attended the second screening. Dr. Erin Kelly, Dr. Seth Quartey, and Amanda Fleischer conducted the screening. Three people were referred to the BP clinic and 2 were referred to the Diabetes clinic.

Our team was asked to provide an in-service training for hospital staff.  Rosie Johnson RN and Dr. Erin Kelly provided breast exams and trained interested staff to perform exams. We look forward to working with the hospital administration in order to provide additional in-service training in 2019.

If you have followed us closely over the years, you will see from the above list that we are performing increasingly complex surgeries while in Apam. We recognize that expanding the knowledge and skills of the local nursing staff – upon whom we rely to provide recovery and post-surgical care for these patients – is a priority. Being satisfied that the equipment and supplies needed to provide appropriate care for these patients are in place at the hospital is equally important. While our volunteers were still in Apam, the hospital administration and team leaders – Dr. Clyde Strang, Dr. Dennis Johnson, Dr. Seth Quartey, and Hollie Walkley – began exploring options with the hospital administration. Those options include educational scholarships and in-service training for nursing staff, and obtaining resuscitation equipment/crash carts for the wards.  We appreciate the hospital’s continued willingness to consider new methodologies.  Finalizing a plan  – and funding it – will encompass a major part of our preparations for the 2019 trip.

In addition to very productive meetings with the St. Luke Hospital administration, we held several informal brainstorming sessions among our team while we were in Apam and later after we returned home. All were focused on how the overall trip experience may be improved for our volunteers and how we may increase our reach to include more patients.

Dr. Andrew Frei and Dr. Scott Williams were outstanding and willing MacGyvers during this trip. A huge shout-out to them for stepping up, filling in, problem solving, brainstorming, and taking charge when necessary. From Dr. Frei teaming up with Dr. Quartey to obtain the release of two anesthesia machines that were held hostage by the port authorities to Dr. Williams using medical equipment and supplies in innovative ways, you two continue to amaze. You are valued members of the team!

Thank you to residents Dr. Lauren Diskin, Dr. Trevor Teetor, Dr. Ryan Raffel, and Dr. Claudia Twum all of whom used their vacation days and paid for the opportunity to work six days a week in a very warm OR. We, and your patients in Apam, will always be grateful. Please join us again.

This was a successful and gratifying trip made possible by our volunteers and our generous donors. Thank you first and foremost to our Board Chair Dr. Clyde Strang for his generosity and leadership. Many thanks also to Dr. Richard Kurz, Dr. Bill McGuinn, Team Leader Dr. Dennis Johnson, Rosie Johnson RN, co-Founders Dr. Seth Quartey and Grace Quartey CPA, Building Solid Foundations Board Members and the Aldersgate United Methodist Church Global Missions Committee for covering many crucial expenses.

Jim Kelly from Ethicon donated suture material as well as hemostatic agent. Chad Walnerich from Covidian/Medtronic donated disposable Harmonic scalpels. WellSpan York Hospital continues to donate used equipment. Janie Farish from Apple Hill Surgical Center donated JP drains used in thyroid surgery.  Dr. Marsha Bornt again proved masterful in collecting and sorting donated medical/surgical supplies and equipment. Clinton Industries donated much-needed hospital furnishings. Thank you one and all.

And, thank you to the St. Luke Hospital of Apam staff. You welcome us, share with us, and work beside us. We appreciate your professionalism and uncomplaining attitude very much.

The downfall of a list like this is that it inevitably omits someone. Heartfelt apologies to anyone whose name should also be here. Please understand that it was an accident and that we appreciate everyone who donates their time, talents, and treasure. Your generosity is humbling.

The Building Solid Foundations Board of Directors has announced dates for our 2019 trip to Apam. Volunteers will depart the US on November 9 and arrive back in the US on November 23. If you would like to receive information about the trip and learn how you can join us, please email hollie.walkley@gmail.com.