The RPSB Unit in Ghana

Korle Bu Teaching Hospital is the largest facility of its kind in Ghana and plays a vital role in ReSurge Africa’s goal of creating a sustainable future for reconstructive surgery in the region.

The hospital’s highly successful reconstructive plastic surgery and burns (RPSB) unit is run by the Ghanaian ministry of Health under ReSurge director Mr Opoku Ware Ampomah. First opened in 1997, the RPSB unit is trained and supported by ReSurge Africa but is now almost entirely self-sufficient, with its staff offering support in the establishment of other reconstructive surgery units in West Africa.

Due to the unit’s reputation and role, the centre is incredibly busy with many patients self-referring by simply turning up in the morning and waiting, sometimes for many hours, until they are seen. Many have travelled for hundreds of miles in the hope of finding aid. Approximately 3000 patients are seen at the unit’s outpatient clinics annually, and over 1000 patients undergo operative treatment each year.

Initially, the unit was furnished with serviceable, redundant equipment brought over from the UK by ReSurge Africa. Over the years, this has gradually been replaced by new equipment, much of it purchased thanks to the support of ReSurge. New operating tables; lighting systems; diathermy units; monitoring equipment; surgical instruments; sterilizing units – the work of ReSurge Africa, and the generosity of its supporters, has transformed the unit into a beacon of modern, sustainable healthcare in Ghana.

New modern sluice rooms have also been created and equipped, and two wound dressing rooms used for inpatients have been completely refurbished and supplied with specialised trolleys and shower units, enabling wounds to be cleaned easily and efficiently.

“ONE OF THE PROBLEMS IS ATTRACTING NURSES
TO WORK IN THE HOSPITALS”

As well as the unit, the hospital as a whole is the ideal base to support the training and development of the staff that will create a brighter future for the people of West Africa. The Korle Bu has most specialities represented, with well-equipped radiology departments, cardiology and cardiac surgery units and a very up-to-date surgical skills laboratory – unique in Sub-Saharan Africa – that has been brought up to date and maintained by Ethicon Ltd.

In this laboratory, it is possible for surgeons to train in endoscopic surgery and hopefully, from the Reconstructive surgery aspect, Microvascular surgery.  Ethicon has a long history of sponsoring microsurgical practical courses and it is hoped that such a course will become a regular feature in Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.

The hospital also boasts nursing and physiotherapy schools. One of the problems in attracting nurses to work at the hospital was the high cost of accommodation in Accra. ReSurge Africa built a block of flats for the sole use of nursing staff working at the centre, which has gone a long way to alleviating the problem.

The Team

The success of the unit is due in no small part to the commitment, skill and passion of its medical team, headed up by Dr Opoku Ware Ampomah.  Dr Ampomah takes over the role of unit director from Mr Albert Bedford Paintsil, who built the RPSB unit steadily over the past eight years from its early foundations

The first director of the centre, Dr Fabian Mork, a man of unwavering devotion to his patients, worked in the unit until his death in February 2010. Mr Mork spent two years training in Glasgow’s Canniesburn Hospital, where he made many friends and learned the skills that would see the unit be transformed from an ambitious idea into life-changing reality under his leadership.

Both Mr Paintsil and Mr Ampomah are of ReSurge Africa, bringing much needed information and wise counsel to the decision-making processes both within the charity and in the centre itself.

An physiotherapy unit has also been established and the unit’s first therapy appointee, Alberta Amissah Rockson, is now in post. Alberta spent six months in Glasgow sharpening her essential therapy skills and is now making a real difference to the unit’s patients post-surgery. Without her skill in physiotherapy, a very important aspect of reconstructive surgery, much of the unit’s work wouldn’t be possible.

Last, but by no means least, are the ever-essential supporting cast of nurses, led by Matron Elizabeth Opoku and her deputy Mercy. The team ensure the smooth running of the centre, supported by Ethel and her team in theatre and the ward sisters and staff.

The team at Korle Bu is committed to caring for the people of Ghana, and helping ensure the success of the unit can be replicated throughout West Africa.

We’ve supported them throughout their training and we’re proud to continue to support them as they change the face of reconstructive surgery in West Africa.

But none of this would be possible without the support of people like you. Find out how you can help us continue our work in West Africa by donating, volunteering or fundraising.

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