Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Long time, no blog

Hey All,

I can only imagine your withdrawal! The internet - yes the entire thing - has been down throughout the entire Volta Region of Ghana for the last 5 or 6 days. I've heard that it has something to do with recent legislation requiring the Ghanaian government owned Ghana Telecom to change hands to a private firm. Anyway, its back now. Still slow, but at least usable.

Its hard to believe that I'm in my last days in Ghana. I've definitely had an awesome experience and its going to be very sad to leave. I'm beginning to regret not planning this trip for 6 weeks instead of 3. The first week was mainly becoming acclimated to Ghana, getting settled into Joseph's accommodations, and meeting the Center staff.

During my second week, I was able to start on my project to improve the computerized medical records database. I got a lot accomplished; I was able to install the open source OpenEMR onto the one functional computer at the Center, I got almost all of the patient data inputed into the system when... a power outage caused the entire system to crash and corrupted some the necessary files to run the program.

So, last week has been mainly damage control, reassessing the needs and capabilities of the Center with regard to technology, and creating a solution to fit those needs. I decided to stick with a slightly improved version of an excel spreadsheet database for all of the patients, which was started by a previous GlobeMed volunteer. It still has fairly high functionality - nurses are able to search for patients by name, address, diagnosis, treatment, or insurance - and is very simple for the nurses, who have minimal computer training.

In fact, I have spent the last couple of days training the nurses to update patient information, add new patients, and search the database. Bertha, one of the original nurses at the Center took to learning the software right away, and I feel confident that she would be able to maintain the system completely without any more help from us. Luckily, Colleen will be her for another 8 months, and she will be able to continue to monitor the nurse's use of the system, answer questions, and ensure that updating the database becomes part of their daily routine. I hope that once the nurses feel confident using the computer and see the huge benefit to having that information stored digitally, a transition down the line to a more permanent, professional type of computerized medical records will be much easier.

Our last couple days have been some of the most exciting and inspiring for me to be a part of. Yesterday, we had a big meeting with Dr. Eleeza, the district health director and the head regional nurse for the Volta Region in which Nikita and I prepared presentations about our work completed over the past three weeks. We also had an excellent discussion about the GlobeMed - HOPE Center -GHS (Ghana Health Service) partnership. Basically, Dr. Eleeza is extremely happy with the dedication that GlobeMed has shown to the partnership and with the tremendous growth that the Center has seen over the past year. I think he realizes that GlobeMed is much more that a "Projects Abroad" type organization that just sends students without much thought or guidance to distribute medicine. He realizes that we want to work within the GHS system, and supplement their efforts with resources that we can develop from the US.

We have some exciting new ideas for the coming year, and now, much more work than ever to make sure we can get it all accomplished.

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