ELKHART — Several community health leaders were honored Monday during an event at Elkhart General for their recent donations to an African hospital.
The South Bend Clinic, Champion Manufacturing Inc. and Beacon Health Systems, which operates the Elkhart hospital, donated hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment to Ankaase Methodist Faith Healing Hospital, which serves a population of nearly 250,000 people in south central Ghana.
Manny Otsin, originally of Ghana, is a registered nurse in Philadelphia and board member for Crosspoint Global Health, a collaborative Christian health outreach. He was asked to attend a presentation on Monday on behalf of Ankaase Methodist, where he treated patients for 18 months.
Otsin, who offered special thanks to several local health leaders for their donations to the hospital, said he spent 18 months in Ankaase Methodist in 2016 as an emergency nurse, frequently treating conditions from stroke to malaria.
“Sometimes there weren’t enough beds,” he said. “Sometimes our extra patients had to be put on the floor.”
Overpopulation had been, and continues to be an issue for the hospital.
“When I went there, there were maybe 26 beds and we were 12 people,” said Cam Gongwer, president of Crosspoint Global Health. “It started with some of the local people, but they had no doctors.”
At the time serving Christian charitable group TMS Global, Gongwer was one of the first doctors at the new hospital, which opened in 1991. He treated patients there for 14 years through the mission.
Today there are five specialists on the campus, junior doctors and over 360 staff.
“They have students coming in, physician assistants. They do the bulk of the work of people that come in and have to be treated for malaria and typhoid and other things, and then there are the specialists.”
In September 2018, the new wing of the hospital was dedicated, while the older, defunct section remains mostly unused. Still, beds are scarce at times and treatments are limited due to lack of equipment.
Randy Brooks, physical therapist for Beacon Health Systems, served his first mission trip to Ghana through Crosspoint Global Health in 2005. He described the hospital’s physical therapy program at the time as “in its infancy stage.”
While he admits there have been incredible advancements at the hospital since his first trip, Brooks said the facility is not what most here would consider modern.
“Most of their facilities look like something we had back, maybe, in the 1960s or 1970s.”
Through a meeting with Otsin, Brooks found himself traveling again to Ghana two years ago with a team of five medical providers. They spent about a week at the Ankaase hospital.
After they got back, Brooks started investigating Beacon’s warehouse to see if there was anything in it that would benefit the people he had served.
“It was what Beacon would consider ‘old’ and ‘used’ equipment, but it was actually brand new for the people in Africa, and it made such a huge difference,” Brooks said.
With the help of the South Bend Clinic and Champion Manufacturing Inc., Crosspoint Global Health coordinated with Beacon Health Systems to donate an estimated $300,000 in equipment between the three health industry leaders to Ankaase Methodist.
They donated an old ultrasound unit, traction table, treatment tables and physical therapy equipment.
“From a health care perspective, it’s very exciting when you see the impact that this has on a person,” Otsin said. “Just having a stretcher or a bed can greatly contribute to patient health.”
The hospital, in collaboration with Crosspoint Global Health, continues to improve its programs, currently working on a dental health school and office combination. It is the first of its kind in the country and will not only teach students dentistry but treat patients in a country where the dental field is limited.
Crosspoint Global Health is also collaborating with IU South Bend to initiate a monthlong program to allow mentors to go with students to Ghana to serve.