Dr. Rob Drury has almost ten years of experience as medical Chief of Staff in a large community hospital in Ontario. Furthermore, he has worked as an Accreditation surveyor for almost twenty years, completing over forty quality of care assessments in various hospitals, large and small, in Canada and elsewhere in the Middle East and South America. He has been a member of GRID’s Ghana Health Team, visiting the Carpenter region. Dr. Drury was one of the leaders in the feasibility planning for the Hospital Project.
I recall a situation in Carpenter when a young lady was brought to the clinic in extreme pain. She could not walk and had to be carried by her family in a blanket. I was pulled out of the clinic and asked to see her under one of the trees. It was obvious that she had severe liver failure with excessive fluid in her abdominal cavity. At that point our options were very limited. We did have access to local freezing and large needles and we were able to drain off about three litres of fluid from her abdomen. Her pain settled and she was able to take some food. However, her prognosis was very poor and we had no other options. She stayed the night, and we tapped her abdomen again the next day but had to refer her to a city hospital two hours away. She arrived at the hospital, never saw a doctor and died alone a couple of days later in extreme pain. We never could have saved her but we could have given her and her family some quality of life in her last few days.
In other words, we needed to give her simple, in-hospital care close to her family and her community.
This experience helped motivate me to get involved in the feasibility study for a hospital in Carpenter. The easy solution was to simply transplant a Canadian hospital into Carpenter and then stand back, and watch it work. The reality was that it would likely fail as it did not reflect the needs or the culture of the community. Finding the balance between identifying the needs and trying to find sustainable Ghanian solutions was challenging but ultimately motivated us as the design moved from simple ideas to practical engineering drawings.
Each step along the design pathway, we always kept in mind who we were designing it for: not for the politicians, not for visiting Canadian health care workers, but for that young lady and her family.
I strongly believe that the final product will meet that goal.