All posts by Hollie

Pre-Trip Meeting Dec. 12, 2021

Volunteers interested in our Jan. 28, 2022 trip will meet at 4:00 pm on Sunday, December 12, 2021 at Aldersgate United Methodist Church. The one-hour meeting provides the opportunity to hear other volunteers talk about their experiences in Apam and to learn what will be expected from you. The Church is located at 397 Tyler Run Road, York, PA 17403. Contact with questions or to RSVP.

2021 trip dates announced

The Building Solid Foundations’ Board of Directors has announed dates for the 2021 trip to Apam. Volunteers will depart the US on Saturday, October 16,  arriving in Apam, Ghana on Sunday the 17th. Volunteers will leave Ghana on Friday, October 29 for an arrival in the US on Saturday, October 30. We expect this trip to reach capacity. If you are interested in joining us on the trip, please complete the Application found on the “Documents” tab. Mail your completed Application and your $100 non-refundable check to Building Solid Foundations, c/o Quartey CPA, 140 Roosevelt Avenue, York, PA 17401.

Other documents that will help you prepare for your trip can be found by clicking on the “Documents” tab.

Watch this space for important registration and payment deadlines. Email for additional information.

2019 Trip Report and 2020 Trip Update


In response to the on-going Coronavirus pandemic, the Board of Directors has decided to postpone our fall 2020 trip.  The Board is looking at several options for 2021. Watch this space for announcements. 

2019 Trip Report

As in the past, and with significant help from St. Luke’s staff, our Medical Team was able to offer two free community health screenings during this trip. Both screenings were held in Apam – one during the first week in conjunction with World Diabetes Day, and a second screening, which was held at the Methodist Church of Ghana in Apam during week two. Domonique Scott RN (below, center), Rosie Johnson RN, Andrea Quartey (below, right), Dr. Erin Kelly (below, left) and Dr. Seth Quartey screened more than 100 people during these two events. That’s a lot of BP cuffs, Glucose meters and strips, sharps containers, alcohol wipes, and other equipment/supplies. Thank you to Dr. Erin Kelly for outstanding help in obtaining donations for these screenings.


In addition to the Medical Team’s work in the Emergency Department, rounding, compiling statistics, and work in the outpatient department, HIV, diabetes, and hypertension clinics, Dr. Scott Williams and Dr. Erin Kelly provided in-service staff training in the use of the two crash carts that were shipped to Apam over the summer. The two carts were donated by Dr. Dennis and Rosie Johnson. Many thanks to the Johnsons and to Col. Christopher J. Giaimo (Ret.) and Dr. Erin Kelly and her friends and family for their generous donations allowing us to purchase an AED to take with us. Thank you to Dr. Williams for obtaining a portable sonogram, which aided the team’s diagnostic work.


The Surgical Team, led by Dr. Johnson and Dr. Clyde Strang, performed 148 surgeries this year. We are pleased to report that all but two planned surgeries were completed, even with the departure of Dr. John (Chip) Monk on Friday (below, left, modeling his new shirt), and Drs. Ryan Raffel, Cheyenne Cortez, Derek Liang and Eav Lim after week one. Dr. Mary Keperling arrived for week two to work with Drs. Sarah Edwards and Diane Meiseles (below, center and right), providing care for women who were screened during week one by the departing GYN team.


Surgical Resident Dr. Zachary Ewart (below) performed 49 hernia repairs during the two-week trip. Unfortunately, we didn’t keep detailed records from our early years in Apam…but this must be a record!

Many thanks to Dr. Bill McGuinn, Sister Mary Magdalene (below, left) and ALL of the supportive, friendly, professional staff members in the OT and recovery and wards who make our surgical team’s work possible.


We enjoyed a chance meeting with Doug Mohler during our west-bound flight. Later in the trip, we met him at the Blue Diamond to learn more about R8 Coatings. Mohler visited St. Luke’s during the second week of our trip to tour the hospital and to demonstrate the heat reflecting power of R8 Coatings. He has generously offered to donate labor and coating for the Operating Theatre roof and the roofs of two wards. R8 Coating is an American company that manufactures an easy to apply reflective-roof coating that reduces interior building temperatures. Learn more about R8 Coatings at

Thank you Father Kobby for coordinating calendars with Archbishop Charles Palmer-Buckle and accompanying Dr. Seth Quartey and Hollie Walkley to a meeting in the Archbishop’s offices in Cape Coast (below, left). We invited Archbishop Buckle to visit St. Luke’s to meet the rest of our team and were thrilled when he accepted our invitation. The Archbishop arrived during a torrential downpour on a day when the entire campus was without electricity. Rain, heat and humidity didn’t stop him from visiting the Operating Theatre where Bridget and Father Kobby helped him into mask, shoe covers, and hair cover so that he could observe a thyroid surgery being done by Drs. Johnson and Strang (below, right. His presence on campus caught everyone’s attention and he was warmly welcomed by hospital staff, catering staff, patients, and team members. We are looking forward to updating him on our projects during our 2020 trip.


Thank you to the Administration of Our Lady of Grace Hospital (OLG) in Breman-Akisuma for taking time to talk with us during our visit. And, thank you to Father Kobby for arranging transportation and accompanying us to his “old” hospital. Our friend, Father Augustine Essel, is now posted to OLG and he and Father Kobby gave us a tour of the hospital. Later in the week, Dr. Francis Bentil, chief of surgery at OLG, visited St. Luke’s to meet some of our team and to exchange contact information with Dr. Johnson. We are looking forward to exploring how members of our team and the two hospitals might work together, especially around thyroid surgeries.

Thank you to Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Steve Shellenberger and S&H Express, Wellspan York, Apple Hill, Clinton Industries, the Building Solid Foundations board of directors and Dr. Rich Kurz for their help and support as we collected, purchased, stored, and shipped supplies, equipment, and medications for this trip.

Save this date for our 2020 trip to Apam: October 24 – November 6.

Second Pre-Trip Meeting

A second pre-trip meeting will be held on Sunday, October 6, 2019 at 4:00 pm at Aldersgate United Methodist Church, 397 Tyler Run Road, York, PA 17403. This meeting will be a Q&A format with time devoted to planning/strategizing our work in Apam. Please rsvp by texting 717-916-2287.

Pre-Trip Meeting Scheduled

Think you might be interested in traveling to Apam with other volunteers ?

The November 8 trip to Apam is quickly approaching. Our first pre-trip meeting is scheduled for Sunday, August 11 at 4:00 pm at Aldersgate United Methodist Church. The Church is located at 397 Tyler Run Road, York, PA.

This meeting provides a great opportunity to meet other volunteers and to learn about the history of Building Solid Foundations’ relationship with St. Luke’s Hospital and the people of Apam.

Questions? Email or call or text 717-916-2287.

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

Teamwork and talent result in successful 2017 trip to Apam.

At the last minute, team leader Dr. Marsha Bornt was unable to participate in the 2017 trip to Apam. She was missed very much by volunteers, St. Luke’s Catholic Hospital administrators and staff, and by Ghanaian patients. Dr. Bornt’s dedication and hard work in Apam over the past ten years created a framework for the team’s successful work in 2017 and beyond.

When asked about the 2017 trip Dr. Dennis Johnson said “…we missed Dr. Bornt and we were fortunate to have a very cohesive group that worked well together, sharing their considerable skills to touch many lives in Apam.”

That cohesiveness resulted in one hundred and twenty-nine thyroid, hernia, gynecology, and general surgeries. The medical team, led by Dr. Seth Quartey, held two free blood pressure and diabetes screenings at Apam churches and saw patients in the Hospital clinic and wards.

The professionalism, adaptability, and energy of volunteers factor prominently in the success of the trip, however, there are many other people whose generosity greatly impacts the trip’s outcome. Here are just of few of the people to whom we are grateful –

  • Robert Bohn and Clinton Industries for donating new exam tables, IV poles, exam room chairs, stools, and other hospital furniture,
  • Steve Shellenberger and S&H Express for donating storage space and equipment, and for making its employees and meeting space available to us year-round,
  • WellSpan/York Hospital Senior Biomedical Equipment Technician Ed Shane and the many other WellSpan employees who immediately think of the people in Apam when they see equipment that would be useful to St. Luke’s Hospital,
  • Jim Kiley and Ethicon for donating an harmonic scalpel device. This was the first time an harmonic scalpel was used in Apam and it increased the efficiency of thyroid surgeries.
  • Sister Mary Magdelene Arthur, Dr. Frank Odame, the Hospital Administration, and the wonderful IT, Surgical, Pharmacy, Lab, HR, Clinic, Kitchen, Maintenance, and other staff for going out of their way to create a welcoming, professional environment,
  • Dr. Clyde Strang for his generosity to and interest in he next generation of surgeons,
  • Dr. Bob Davis, Dr. Tom Davis, Dr. Marsha Bornt, Dr. Shawn Lybarger, Dr. Derek Liang, physicians and staff at Apple Hill, and other medical professional who make it a habit to collect, sort, and donate usable medical and surgical supplies,
  • Rose Johnson, R.N. and her friends for contributing funds to purchase pulse oximeters and other supplies and equipment,
  • Building Solid Foundations board members, especially Dr. Rich Kurz and Dr. Seth Quartey for their donations of time and talent to make this trip possible, and
  • The many Annual Fund Donors whose “use my gift where it will do the most good” contributions allow Building Solid Foundations to purchase and ship supplies and equipment to Apam.

The two-week trip wasn’t all work. Dr. Frank Odame and St. Luke’s Hospital administrators, staff, and employees hosted two festive dinners, which gave everyone the opportunity to know each other outside of work. The Hospital coordinated a tour of Elmina Castle, which is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, and a trip to the Canopy Walk and Nature Trails at Kakum National Park. Volunteers spent Saturday night at the Blue Diamond Beach Resort, dined out at Sankofa Square Jamaican Restaurant, shopped local for FanIce and fabrics, and toured and shopped for souvenirs at the Makola market in Accra.

The dates for the 2018 trip to Apam will be announced shortly. If you are interested in traveling to Apam next year, send an email to

The shipping container is loaded and headed to Ghana!

Thank you… thank you to everyone who donated, asked for donations, shopped for food, and delivered, sorted, and packed everything into the shipping container. It is on its way to Ghana and will be delivered to Apam just before our volunteers arrive on September 3.

Special thanks to former Board Chair, Steve Shellenberger and S&H Express for buying food for our volunteers, lending us employees, and making warehouse and trailer storage space available.  This is the tenth year that Steve has helped Building Solid Foundations and the wonderful people of Apam, Ghana. We are eternally grateful for his leadership and generosity.

Thank you current and former board members, committee members, friends from Aldersgate United Methodist Church and their friends for strategizing, organizing and loading everything into the shipping container. You guys are amazing and we are humbled by your energy and good will.

Thank you also to everyone who donated items including Wellspan, Pepsi, Clinton Industries, Harriet Knight, Rosie and Dennis Johnson and friends, members of the Nextdoor Elmwood email listserve, Hollie’s friends from Mah Jongg, numerous York and Lancaster County  schools, Grace and Seth’s friends, and the many generous people who responded to our newsletter mailing. You make it possible!  We couldn’t do it without you!

Thursday, June 1, 2017 at the S&H Express warehouse.


Upcoming Trip Meeting Scheduled

People interested in traveling with Building Solid Foundations to Apam, Ghana for the September 2, 2017 through September 16, 2017 trip, should plan to meet at 4:00 on Sunday, June 25, 2017 at Aldersgate United Methodist Church.

The Church is located at 397 Tyler Run Road, York, PA 17403.

If you are interested in the trip but are not able to attend the meeting, please contact for details. Thank you.