Ghana Blog: Emergency Room

July 7th, 2015

As I walked into the Emergency Room in Ghana, I was overwhelmed with shock and surprise. Paint-chipped walls, dirty floors, and the smell of perspiration surrounded me. There were no sinks, gloves were used sparingly, and masks were nonexistent. The atmosphere was loud, unorganized, and over-all chaotic. The wards were filled to the brim; patients were overflowing into the entrance and main hallways. I was surrounded by a buzz created by dated monitors along with five medical students that were having to converse with the one and only doctor on duty. In the front entrance there was a child, asleep on a stretcher and attached to an IV. Alongside this child was another who was receiving a breathing treatment for the severe asthma attack he had that morning. The heartbreak started as soon as the doors closed behind me, and continued through witnessing the lack of staff and supplies, all the way up to when the power went out and all machines shut off.

            As you can probably imagine, seeing the conditions and the lack of necessities was completely heartbreaking. In my mind I began to think about the emergency rooms I had visited back home. I remembered being greeted with the fragrance of cleaning products as soon as the doors opened; the floors were almost as clean and glossy as the windows; the counters were covered with boxes of gloves, masks, and hand sanitizer. When I saw the condition of the Emergency Room in Ghana, my mind just couldn’t comprehend how this facility could have remained functioning for so long. I then took a step back and tried to reflect on my encounter with this new environment. I soon realized that I was blinded by the overabundance that people from America are blessed with. The truth is, people have been surviving with limited medical supplies since the beginning of time. Even though it is not optimal, does not mean it is not productive. I entered the emergency room and all I could feel was pity for the Ghanaian people, I left the emergency room with respect for their ability to allocate resources efficiently and help the hundreds of patients that come through their hallways everyday.

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