First Hospital Visit and first day on our own

Trip Start Jun 30, 2008
Trip End Aug 04, 2008

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Where I stayed
Andrews Hotel

Flag of Ghana  ,
Saturday, July 5, 2008

After an interesting night's sleep, or lack of sleep for
some, we were off to meet Ebenezer Jackson, the Dean of Electrical
Engineering.  He was a very pleasant
man.  We talked about some of the
projects that we will be working on while we are here and he gave us all his
business card and said to contact him anytime that we needed too.  He is going to be a very good resource for us
during this trip and in the future.  If
anything goes wrong with the Infant heart monitor, he will be the one that we

After our first meeting we were off to the Komfo Ankoye
Teaching Hospital to meet with Dr. Ankobea to talk about the infant heart
monitor.  It was a long drive to the
hospital because we had to make a few stops on the way.  We had to swing by the Kumasi airport for
Andrew to buy a ticket to Accra and we wanted to drive by the King's
Palace.  After we drove by those two
places we found enough time for ourselves to get lost for a while.  Emanuel said he knew where he was going but
all of us were not really sure.  After
about an hour of driving in a very cramped truck we were at the hospital. 

We had seen some of the pictures that Dr. Warrington and
Andrew had taken while they were visiting the hospital but we really had no
idea what to expect.  It was shocking.  There were so many people waiting for
treatment it was heartbreaking.  All of
the waiting rooms were packed with people and as soon as we showed up it seemed
like everyone was staring.  We all felt
bad as we walked past everyone in the waiting rooms.   We hoped that they didn't think that we were
getting preferred treatment.

After a short wait we met up with Dr. Ankobea.  He seemed like a very important man in the
hospital and was obviously well respected. 
We spoke about what the Pavlis Institute is and why were where in
Ghana.  After that we started to talk
about the infant heart monitor.  He
seemed very interested in the project. 
He said that he wants to make sure that the IBV team has 24/7 access to
the labor wards.  He seemed like he
really wants to be a part of the project. 
As we were just about to leave he got a grim look on his face and told
us to stay a moment.  He then began to
talk about the process that we need to go through to be able to test the device
on human subjects.  We have to write up a
few documents to get ethical clearance. 
He then made a few phone calls and set us up a meeting with Professor
K.A. Danso, Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.  He also did the ethical clearance forms.  Dr. Ankobea said we would have to wait for an
hour to talk to him, so we decided to get some lunch.

We took about an hour for lunch and headed our way back to
the hospital.  When we got back to the
hospital we were instructed to wait for Dr. Ankobea to take us up to talk to
Dr. Danso.  This is when the stories
about waiting in Ghana became true.  We
sat in a very small room for about an hour. 
Thankfully they had newspapers and we took turns reading our fortunes
out of the paper.   After sitting for a
while Emanuel decided to call Dr. Ankobea again and as soon as the phone
started ringing, Dr. Ankobea walked through the door and told us to follow
him.  After walking up a maze of narrow
stairs we were in the labor ward.  This
was the most startling part of our trip. We walked into this open area
room.  Dr. Warrington and Andrew had
described the conditions of the ward but even pictures could not really prepare
us for what we were about to see.  Thankfully
today the ward was not very busy and there were really no people going into
labor.  The smell of human body odor
filled the room; there was no privacy within this area.  There were many women that were in the
process of feeding their newly born infant. 
This is just a private part of motherhood within the U.S. that it almost
felt that we were invading into their privacy. 
There were also no men within the maternity ward just mothers.  The visiting hours for the hospital were
between 5:30 - 7:30 a.m. and between 4:30-6:30 p.m. 

It seemed that we all took a deep breath after leaving the
maternity ward.  There was a sense of
relief but there was also the knowledge that we would be coming back here in
the future.  Dr. Ankobea directed us to
the office of Dr. Danso.  He had the
largest offices that we have seen so far within the hospital.  It was also air conditioned.  Dr. Danso was an older gentleman who was
slightly balding with the rest of hair already turned gray.  He had Bob Marley playing in the background.  Dr. Ankobea introduced Andrew and Emanuel and
us as students.  Emanuel then went introduced
the infant heart monitor.  Andrew chimed
in to make clarification about certain aspects of the project.  Dr. Danso then told us that students from the
University of Michigan were already here working on a project that they had
some experience working with different Universities.  During the conversion ethical questions also
came about.  We found out that we needed
to get an IRB approved from the hospital. 
With the IBV team coming in a little over a week has added a little more
stress.  We had asked about how long an
IRB takes to get approved in the hospital and when we told him our time line he
did not seem too hopeful.   Dr. Ankobea
seemed to be trying his best to make the project successful becoming the
primary investigator and also helping to move the IRB application along.  Hopefully, the IRB approval moves more
rapidly than many aspects of Ghana.

After leaving Dr. Danso's office, Dr. Ankobea led us to one
of the person's in charge of the ethical IRB information, John.  John was a little bit younger than Dr.
Ankobea.  Andrew and Dr. Ankobea
explained the infant heart monitor to John and he then gave us some tips about
filling out the IRB.  Two questions to be
sure to answer was why the device was being tested in Ghana and not just the US
and what would be the benefits for the University?  He told us to be sure to stress that the
device would be low cost and that we would be planning to leave some of the
devices after the two week testing period if all goes well.  He said that the IRB board wants to ensure
that we are not testing a device that would not pass safety standards in the US
or that we would test this device and then the hospital would not be able to
afford it when it was marketed for sale. 
He then gave us the email address to send to get the paperwork to fill
out.  We thanked John and Dr. Ankobea for
all of their time and it was decided that we would be returning on Monday with
an introduction letter along with all the paperwork for the devise.   This would definitely be a challenge because
of the long weekend due to the fourth of July.

After leaving the hospital, we rushed to try to find an
internet café so we could send that email out to get the forms. The internet
café was on the second story and was a room a little bigger than a dorm room
with 10 or so computers.  All five of us
entered the room but only one stayed to write the email.  There was not enough space for all us to be
in there.  Andrew got on the computer and
after about 15 minutes successfully sent one email.  Internet connections are much slower and not
available everywhere which makes it difficult.

After this we headed over to the cultural center to buy some
gifts.  This area was very different than
the city center.  There were much less
vendors and all the vendors had little stores. 
Everyone was selling traditional masks, baskets, jewelry, etc.   There were many murals on the wall. Because
of this it was also a hot spot for tourist which also meant that it was much
more expensive.  The only people that we
saw shopping while we were in the area were tourists.  We began looking around and we got to
practice our bartering.  Cory got a head
start by bartering for a mask and a painting after lunch.  Marcie and Mitch bought some little things in
a store but the real fun came when we were trying to buy some paintings.  We had walked into this small art store.  Already in the store was another Caucasian
couple who must have been on vacation. 
We had started bartering with the store owner about some of the
paintings.  Emanuel had told us that we
should not pay more than 50% of what they first start out asking.  He said that they will see the color of your
skin and raise the price that much. 
Mitch had asked about the price of a rectangular painting.  The owner said 15 cedis and Mitch said 5
cedis.  The owner said the 12 cedis and
Mitch said 6 cedis.  The owner said 10
cedis was the lowest that he would go
This is where Emanuel got involved. 
He started talking and in the end Mitch and Marcie ended up getting two
painting for 8 cedis each.  The owner was
not that happy because a few minutes before he sold two of the same size
paintings for a total of 30 cedis to the other tourists.

On our way back home we stopped by a vendor that was selling
soccer jerseys.  Andrew really wanted to
get some for his kids and we wanted to get some as well.  We parked the truck and walked up to the
street vendor who seems very happy to see us. 
Mitch tried on a few jerseys but Marcie was the first one to ask him how
much they cost.  When she asked he said 12
cedis, and Marcie came back with 5 cedis. 
He did want this and he then said 8 cedis.  Marcie waited a second and said 6 cedis, the
owner said okay but Marcie thought he said no, so she came back again with 7
cedis!  We all jumped in at this point
and made sure she only had to pay 6 cedis for the jersey.  Mitch then asked the owner how much for two
jerseys and he said 20 cedis, even after selling the same kind to Marcie for 6
cedis.  Mitch quickly reminded him that
he just sold one for 6 cedis and he agreed to sell two for 12 cedis.  Both Andrew and Cory bought theirs for 6
cedis as well.  We all congratulated
Marcie on her fine bartering skills after we got into the truck.

We headed back to Andrews hotel for the last dinner we would
have together.  We spent a few hours
sitting around the pool and eating dinner. 
We were trying to enjoy the last meal that we would have together for as
long as we could.  We made sure to send
Brooke and Dr. Warrington emails about how we need the IRB information and the
rest of the information on the infant heart monitor.  Hopefully they would have it to us tomorrow
morning.  Before we knew it, it was time
to get back to the dorms and get to bed. 
We had a lot of work to do tomorrow and we wanted to make sure that we
had enough rest to accomplish the following day's tasks.  We said goodbye to Andrew and Emanuel gave us
a ride back to the dorm.  At this point
we would really like to thank Andrew for all that he did for us during our
first few days in Ghana.  He made our
transition very smooth and provided us with the knowledge and confidence to
live here on our own.  You really made a
big difference Andrew, Ma da si.

Before we went to bed, we all sat down and decided what we
were going to accomplish on Saturday. 
Our list included:

1.  Contacting Brooke
Smith and Dr. Warrington about the information on the infant heart

2.  Make sure that we
could find food on the weekends without leaving campus.

3.  Finish the IRB for
the hospital and send it to Dr. Warrington and Andrew


We wanted to wake up early on
Saturday and try to do some exercising
When our alarms went off we were very reluctant to get out of bed.  We figured we were still feeling some effects
of jet lag.  Marcie and Mitch went for a
run in the morning.  They explored the
campus and saw some new and interesting things. 
They found the sewage treatment plant and learned that it's okay to go
to the bathroom in the middle of the street while two Americans are jogging past.  It was still very humid at 7 in the morning
but not nearly as hot.  After the jog the
cold showers felt very nice.

The next step in our day was to
get to our list.  First on our list was
to find food.  We knew that we would not
get much done if we had hungry stomach. 
Each of us ate a granola bar (Marcie was very thankful to her mom) and
went to the commercial center to buy some food
During the week there is a vendor that sells rice and we figured that
would be good for lunch.  When we arrived
there was no one selling hot food.  We
looked around and settled on buying some bread, peanut butter, eggs, and some
ramen noodles.  We walked backed to the
dorms because Mitch and Marcie were quite hungry.  Mitch tried to boil water to make it noodles
in the rice cooker than we had bought the day before.  Marcie started making some peanut butter
sandwiches.  The bread looked similar to
wheat bread but tasted more like ginger bread and the peanut butter was just
that: peanuts crushed into a paste.  The
combination ended tasting alright.  Mitch
was still waiting for the water to come to a boil and then to boil for 30
minutes so that he knew it was safe to eat
He then put the noodles in along with one of the eggs.  He was quite surprised when he saw that the
egg had a white yolk.

After eating, we had to make some
contact with Brooke and Dr. Warrington today so we could finish the IRB on
time.  We went to the internet café and
bought some internet.  We had not
received any emails from either Brooke or Dr. Warrington.  So we decided that we needed to call.  When called Dr. Warrington it was around 2:00
p.m.  Ghana time which is about 10 a.m.
Houghton time, we wanted to be sure to not call too early because it was the
day after the fourth of July.  Marcie
took the cell phone outside because it was a little loud inside the area that
we were sitting.  Marcie first tried
calling Dr. Warrington's house but the call didn't go all the way through to
leave a message.  She then tried to call
his cell phone.  The first attempt failed
but on the second try she got through to him. 
She told Dr. Warrington about the IRB situation with the hospital and
then asked for them to send the information as soon as possible.  Dr. Warrington first said that it would be
Monday morning before he could get the information but then Marcie explained
that we needed to turn in the information on Monday and that 8 a.m. eastern
time makes it already noon here which would make it very hard for us to write
up the documents in less than 6 hours. 
Dr. Warrington said that he would get us the information as soon as

After we talked to Dr. Warrington
we decided to work on the blog for a little bit while we had time.    We relaxed in one of the campus lounges.  We watched some Ghanaian television.  It seemed to be a kid's show that was very
strange.  When we ran out of internet we
headed back to our rooms to start working on the IRB with what we had.  We worked on it for a few hours and decided
that we needed to get some food.  We knew
there was a small food place just outside of the campus that served food till
late.  It is probably about a mile and
half walk.  We started off walking
through campus and ended up talking to a few different people.  One of the most memorable was a man riding by
on a bike.  As he rode by he called out
something to us that we could not understand. 
We smiled and waved and kept walking. 
About 30 seconds later a Ghanaian student asked us if we knew what he
said.  We said no and he told us that he
said, "Hello white man!"  We had a short
conversation with him and kept heading toward the food stand.  When we got there Marcie ordered some fried
rice.  They were all out when Mitch
wanted to get some and she said it would be about 15 minutes before it was
ready.  We decided to walk outside of
campus a little.  We walked down a street
where many street vendors had already closed their shops.  We had a few conversations with young
children and an older man.  It was very
fun.  We got to learn a few new words and
everyone was very friendly.  On our way
back Mitch picked up some rice and chicken. 
The cost for both Marcie and Mitch's meals was 1.50 cedis each.

On our walk back we stopped by the
internet café to see if we had gotten any emails from Brooke or Dr.
Warrington.  Thankfully we had gotten
emails from both.  We quickly saved the
emails and started on our way home because it was getting dark.  On our way home we were stopped by a group of
men who wanted to marry Marcie.  As we
walked by they yelled out, "Please, my wife! 
Come and marry me."  Marcie stated
"No no no" and also said that she would definitely need to brush up on here
Twi.  We stopped and talked to them for a
while and Mitch got a few pictures with his new friends.

We then headed back to our dorm
rooms and started working on the IRB for the hospital.  Dr. Warrington and Brooke's information gave
us the background and we were able to modify bits and pieces to make it
applicable to the hospital.  It was
around 9 p.m. when we finished and decided to relax by watching a movie.

We then made a list of what to do

1.       Send
IRB information to Dr. Warrington and Andrew. 
Have Dr. Warrington look over the introduction letter and sign off on it

2.       Find
food on Sundays

3.       Organize
pictures and videos

4.       Go
into city center in Kumasi

5.       Find
a place to print out forms for hospital.

Thanks for reading!  Keep posting comments and advice!
Slideshow Report as Spam


gcampione on

Thank you for making me appreciative of the things I take for granted like electricity, water, sewer and sanitation. You seem to be making the right connections at the hospital and building the social relationship that are so necessary for a long term relationship with the hospital and Michigan Tech. Enjoyed the photos, getting a clear picture of the living conditions of Ghanaian people and what they must endure to receive health care. We as American Should not complain about our health care system, it is perfect but I suspect that any one of the women giving birth would trade places in an instance.

kgpaterson on

keep on truckin'
keep listening and looking. and waiting.

good to see the detail-rich blog entries. hope your journals are similarly detailed...

look for grass-cutter next time you dine.

Prof. P

psmith on

Wonderful Experience
Hi everyone,
I am Peggy Smith, Brooke's mother. I am so glad that you have so much in your Travel Pod. I enjoy reading it. It helps us mother's and father's to know that you are all ok and that you are having a great experience. Keep up the great work and know that your writings and pictures are very much appreciated for a lot of people. Brooke is ready to come and very excited to be there with all of you. Take care and God Bless you all. Peg

samatthe on

Wish we were there!
We enjoyed reading your third blog entry about your visit to the hospital and your day on your own. You have already done so much. Is it hot there? How often do you use Twi? Thanks for such detailed entries that make us wish we were there too. Sylvia and Joel

twrzesin on

I enjoy reading your adventures
Hi Marcie and all,
I have enjoyed reading about your travels. Glad you are getting exercise as it probably keeps you going. Love the pictures.
Take care and stay healthy,
Terry Wrzesinski

dcampione on

Hi Marcella, Mitch and Cory
I am so amazed at what you are doing in Ghana -- from reading your blogs (and our few conversations with Marcella) you have had a full first week and have experienced new sights, smells and tastes. I wish you well in your remaining weeks and look forward to your upcoming blogs and photos. take care and enjoy yourself
Love Marcella's Mom (Diane)

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