Medical Mission to “Upon This Rock Medical Center” – June, 2013
After the usual pre-departure “Packing Trip” at Dr. Geelhoed’s home in Maryland, the team of nine volunteers flew to Port Harcourt, Nigeria, via Paris and Lagos. James Umekwe, founder of UTRMC and mission sponsor, had traveled to Port Harcourt a few days before to make detailed arrangements and to meet the team on their arrival. They were later joined by Dr. Grace Ayensu, an American-trained surgeon from Ghana, who will also be the host for a future mission trip (July 2013). The team was pleased to see that the UTRMC clinic has remained in operation, being staffed by weekly visits of Nigerian volunteer physicians.
The team immediately began to see and treat a large number of medical patients (on some days as many as two hundred) with a dwindling supply of medications. Patient diseases ranged from sickle cell anemia to acute malaria. Those patients with conditions amenable to operations under local anesthesia (hernias, hydrocoeles, or lipomata), were selected and surgical operations began on the third clinic day. Until the arrival of Dr. Ayensu, Dr. Geelhoed had to cycle back and forth between the operating room and the medical clinic treatment rooms. Local health care providers were taught the rudiments of surgery, as were some of the volunteers. After the arrival of Dr. Ayensu, it was possible to conduct two operations simultaneously. On the last day of the clinic, no less than 29 patients received operations under local anesthesia.
As is his usual practice, Dr. Geelhoed assigned topics for each volunteer to study and report to the group. In the evening after long, exhausting days seeing patients, the entire team would gather together to review interesting cases seen during the day, to conduct tutorials, and to share what had been learned about their assigned topics.
The team was also able to travel to the Nigerian Federal Medical Center (FMC) in Umuahia and there perform operations on those patients who required general anesthesia. Some of these were children, who are not suitable candidates for operations using local anesthesia. Also while at FMC, Dr. Geelhoed showed the surgical staff how he is able to perform a thyroidectomy without use of cautery.
A highlight of this mission was the distribution of Pillowcase Dresses to little girls in Ozu Abam. These dresses are made of new or used pillowcases by volunteer groups in the United States. For more information on this non-medical volunteer project, please visit www.whistleforpeace.org
During this mission, over 728 medical patients were treated and 43 surgical operations performed. At its conclusion, most of the volunteers returned home, while Drs. Geelhoed and Ayensu traveled on to Ghana to arrange the details for a forthcoming mission trip there.
If you would like further information, please visit www.mission2heal.org