My Clinical Experience at The National Cardiothoracic Center of Excellence Korle-bu Teaching Hospital Accra Ghana – Many Perspectives, A Wake Up Call.
Ayinla Daniel, RN, RCTN.
Some of my colleagues at The National Cardiothoracic Center of Excellence Korle-bu Teaching Hospital Accra Ghana during our external clinical posting.
Was I not captivated by the serene work environment and sheer respect professionals alluded to each other as they carried out their various duties? The organisation, work ethics, patient/client handling, all these elements were not feigned but were real, you could see that it was something these professionals were used to, an inbuilt character, an indwelling attitude. Oh, don’t let me forget to mention the warm hospitality my colleagues & I enjoyed in the hands of our Ghanian comrades, we felt at home, encouraged and inspired.
And the epicentre of my amazement was centred around the Cardiothoracic Centre of Excellence. Oh yes! This place deserves to be called a Centre of Excellence because what they do within those walls are amazing things that deserve the title of excellence. One thing you must know is that the Cardiothoracic Centre of Excellence is not owned by a private firm, but by the government of Ghana. As part of our clinical postings, visiting The National Cardiothoracic Center of Excellence in Korle-bu Teaching Hospital provided an opportunity for us to witness first hand the wonder of the National Cardiothoracic Center, we saw it with our own eyes, we were fascinated by the fact that the surgical procedures that were done occasionally back in Nigeria by foreigners, were done here by our local brothers on a regular basis without foreign intervention.
Ghana may be a small country, it may not be as large as Nigeria, but we can’t deny the fact that the country is really doing well. The Cardiothoracic centre is like “a hospital in a hospital”, as a small independent community in Korle-bu Teaching Hospital, it has its own radiology department, its own dedicated laboratory and a wonderful renal department packed full with enough dialysis machines, the administration is also wonderful!
The German government was instrumental in building the centre in its early days, they provided Nurses, Anaesthetists, Perfusionists & Cardiologists who stayed for a while to work and train the local workforce between a period of 2 – 10 years before leaving. They also provided some of the initial pieces of equipment used in starting the centre as at that period. This partnership was key in establishing the National Cardiothoracic Center of Excellence in Korle-bu Teaching Hospital.
You may be surprised to also know that Ghana got their independence some years before we got ours, they gained their independence in the year 1957 while we gained ours three years later in 1960 when they were already becoming a republic, so they may be older “post-independently”, but we are larger and have the resource to multiply, yet we have refused to do just that, multiply & grow, instead we play blind & deaf.
A Brief History.
The centre was started in 1989, by Professor Kwabena Frimpong – Boatenga Cardiothoracic surgeon who trained at Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Germany, he had already created his wave in the field of Cardiothoracic surgery as being among the pioneers of the heart transplantation programme in Hannover Germany, he wanted to bring the flames home and he came back to start the Cardiothoracic Centre in Accra Ghana, which without an iota of doubt is making West Africa very proud.
The open-heart surgeries that are performed on a regular basis in Korle-bu Teaching Hospital’s Cardiothoracic centre are done by their local surgeons and managed by home bred specialist registered nurses, there are no foreign interferences, no one is waiting for a foreign foundation from India, Germany or Egypt to come to carry out surgeries, no, they do it themselves and they do it on a regular basis, the people are enjoying these services, they do not need to risk their lives & spend a whole lot flying abroad to get health care, their country has it. They do not need to wait for foreign aid, no, the country has it.
But back home in Nigeria, we wait for foundations from foreign countries to come to our very own Cardiothoracic centre of excellence before heart surgeries can be carried out and this occurs about twice or three times a year and we say we are what? Cardiothoracic centre of excellence? I trained as a Cardiothoracic Nurse in the University of Nigeria Enugu Teaching Hospital and I must tell you when I returned from Korle-bu Teaching Hospital, I had many questions running through my mind as to why can’t we do more than these people? Why do we have to wait for foreigners to come over here before we can do open-heart surgeries? Keeping our patients waiting! A handful of them may benefit from these programmes because I think they are subsidised, a good one, but not the best, it’s not sufficient for us, we need more, we are not supposed to be at this level, we should be making more progress, don’t you think so?
Cardiothoracic surgery in Nigeria is not a new kid in the block, we have been exposed to it for a long time, why have we not been able to stand on our own yet? You need to know how much we are losing due to medical tourism, our citizens leaving the country to seek health care in other countries, simply because we have failed in our duties or the leaders?
We have the workforce, professionals who are willing to take the reins and make it happen. We have surgeons who are ready to operate, Registered Nurses qualified in Critical Care & Cardiothoracic Nursing who are determined to put in their very best to make sure we have a centre that will earn the golden title of excellence.
Some facts about the Cardiothoracic Center of Excellence Accra Ghana.
I was able to garner some interesting facts about Ghana’s Cardiothoracic centre of excellence and I would love you to also take a look at it.
- The Facility is known as one of the best State of the Art Centre for Cardio-Thoracic Care in West Africa.
- The whole project was carried out by Hospital Engineering GmbH and GerTech GmbH from Germany.
- It was carried out as a Turn-Key Project, including planning, designing, project development, construction works and implementation as well as provision and installation of medical and technical equipment.
- Since there is a high demand both from local and foreign patients the existing Centre is not sufficient, recent media publications are calling for an extension. Source: Wikipedia.
I am proud of Africa, I know we can do more and I strongly believe that in the not too distant future we will be doing so much more in our various fields of endeavour.
Cardiothoracic Care In Nigeria.
I have heard about private (and some government institutions – with foreign aid) endeavours in Nigeria that seek to address the lack of Cardiothoracic care in Nigeria. I have not only heard but I have been privileged to also experience, to see with my own eyes, first hand, open-heart surgeries carried out in a privately owned firm in Nigeria, it’s exciting and refreshing since the government has refused to get serious with matters like this, fellow Nigerians who are capable have taken it upon themselves to do something for their country, imagine what they will do if there is adequate support from the government!
Cardiothoracic care is obviously complex & expensive, one that requires a good degree of dedication & competence, yet these are not odds we can’t surmount if we all come together with our government right by our side.
And with time, we will definitely begin to see more of this. We also want to encourage our brothers and sisters who have left these shores to study and gain experience in more developed countries not to forget home, it is wise that they come back home and give to their lands of origin, it’s an honourable thing to do, for they are not just doing it for themselves, but for country and the generations yet to come.