Interns wrap up experience

July 18, 2018 at 6:00 AM

maddie,-rachel,-kate-clinic.jpgA group of three students from Northwestern College spent the summer as interns at the St. Luke Hospital in Kasei, Ghana.    (Photo submitted)

Interns wrap up experience

(Editor's note: Three students from Northwestern College are spending the summer interning at the St. Luke Hospital in Kasei, Ghana, and blogging about their experience. The interns include: Kate Staab, a sophomore nursing major from Lincoln, NE; Maddie Godfredson, a junior nursing major, from Rock Valley, Iowa; and Rachel Mercer, a sophomore biology-health professions major, from Kingsley, Iowa.) 

By Kate Staab

(The following is a portion of Redeemed and Redeeming blog. You can read the full entry on the interns' blog by clicking here.)

- July 1 -

It's pouring here in Kasei and the sound is magnified by the tin roof. I love it. The peace from listening to a rainstorm is quite wonderful. It's also the rainy season here in Ghana which has been a huge blessing because the temps have been (relative to Ghana normally) cooler. The first few weeks we definitely felt like we were melting, but now we occasionally walk outside and are greeted by a sweet breeze and pleasantly surprised by the temp — but there are still days when the heat hits us hard.

Maddie stayed in pediatrics and got to start and remove an IV, administer a few meds, get to know some patients' sweet smiles, and build relationships with the nurses. I moved to the lab and enjoyed it much more than I anticipated. I drew blood samples, helped run a few tests and enter patient information. Rachel spent a day in the pharmacy and then a few more back in the lab because the pharmacist was traveling. She successfully identified my blood type all by herself. 

Maddie got to reconnect with a woman who is caring for a little boy. We met the pair a few weeks ago and learned their story. The little boy is 9 months old and was left at the market with a trader when he was only 2 weeks old by his young (no older than 15) mother. The trader took the little boy in and has been caring for him and her other two children to the best of her ability but has rationed his formula due to her little income. The child became severely malnourished. He spent two weeks at the hospital until discharged and came back for a check up. He's doing very well. He's a very active little boy, so getting him to sit still was nearly impossible.

Two weeks remain and we are all anxious and excited about returning home in 16 short days. However, we also recognize how fast our time has gone and are cautious not to wish away our remaining time here.  We continue to check in frequently with the labor ward with hopes of catching a few more babies before our time is up.

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- July 7 -

This morning we got to sleep in, breakfast wasn't until nine, and it was quite nice to wake up without an alarm, read, and take our time getting ready for the day. As we headed over to Dr. John's house for breakfast we were greeted by two of the midwives' children (Enshura and Apa) sprinting towards us. It was quite adorable. There was a band outside Dr. John's house and people dancing to celebrate 30 years of the St. Luke Hospital here in Kasei.

This week has been full of celebrations. July 1 was Ghana's national republic holiday; on July 2, Akos (our wonderful host mother) celebrated her birthday; on the Fourth of July was America's Independence Day (we wore red white and blue scrubs in honor); July 5 was my 20th birthday; and July 7 is 30 years of ministry!

Maddie and I spent the week in the general ward due to the initial beckoning of one of the nurses, Portia. Portia exudes joy and made our slow week in general full of smiles. Although we did not get to do much, we spent time talking with Portia, Esther, Rhema, Sa-ada, and Halidu. Portia loved answering any and all questions and used every opportunity to educate us, which was greatly appreciated.

One morning we talked about the Islamic faith with Halidu, a Muslim nursing student, for about an hour and asked lots of questions. Friday morning I got to start an IV on a sweet elderly man in the emergency department. Maddie verbally guided me through, and that was super exciting. She and I then practiced on each other and I accidentally blew through her vein, but she was successful!

Rachel spent the week in surgery — the surgical theatre as they call it — and got to meet the welcoming surgical team and witness multiple surgeries. There were many hernia repairs, a circumcision, and her favorite — a tubal ligation (meaning a woman got her tubes tied). She even scrubbed in Friday and helped hand surgical instruments to the doctor and nurse.

On Thursdays, the doctor does ultrasounds for the pregnant women rather than surgeries. We all decided to venture to the scan room and met Nana (pronounced Nenna) a young doctor just returning from leave. Nana was very talkative and patient explaining what we were seeing on the ultrasounds since it was not always easy to distinguish.

This week we begin a lot of lasts. We are all excited about returning home, but were reflecting this morning how different leaving this place will be. Our room in Mother Theresa's house has become our home full of many memories and it's unlikely we will ever see many of these people again, which is part of what makes goodbyes so bittersweet.

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 - July 15 -

What a bittersweet week it has been.

Last night we safely arrived back in Accra and ate at Burger King.  After church this morning we visited Burger King once again and have spent the afternoon resting. It's been a delightful Sunday.

Maddie and I joined Alfred — he's a cool dude —in the emergency room for the week and Rachel returned to surgery. We each started a few IV's, administered and mixed various medications and we both got to pass an NG tube! That was very exciting! NG tube stands for nasogastric tube and is fed through the nose into the stomach and used for feeding when a patient cannot eat. Rachel got to scrub in to hand surgical instruments and even sutured a patient! We were all pretty excited about our new hands-on experiences and thankful for the opportunities.

Thursday was a rough day in the ER. However, God's light still shines brightly. Friday morning at the clinic was pretty slow. During the afternoon we walked through each department of the clinic and said our goodbyes. In the evening we dropped off some clothes and extra pens and bottles of hand sanitizer with one of the midwives. She was ecstatic and grateful. One of the hardest goodbyes was to the midwives' children; Apa, Patrick Jr., Tracy (who still fears us), and Enshura. These beautiful children have been a bright spot every time we see them and are a living reminder of simple joy.

Yet, we are all ready for the trek home, excited to see family and friends and process our time here in Ghana.

We have naturally done some reflecting as a group since our minds are processing goodbyes and anxious for home. God has been present so often throughout our time here in Ghana. A big way has been the blessing of this team. Our personalities mesh quite well and that has made some rough days a bit brighter. We have spent a lot of time together and we are thankful we share a bedroom and all of these memories.


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