Through medical mission work, a physician from Ghana was able to connect with the staff at OCH Regional Medical Center this week to expand and improve the healthcare in his hometown.

Dr. Thomas Cobb with Starkville Clinic for Women and a member of the medical staff at OCH took a mission trip to Ghana in 2016, and that’s where he met Dr. Donatus Zubeviel Dery. Dr. Dery is the only physician in his medical practice with a limited staff. In Ghana, a country of more than 28 million people, there is a shortage of medical professionals with a ratio of one doctor for every 2,000 patients.

“Our patients with diseases have progressed much more than what we see here [in Starkville] because of the wait time to be able to see a physician,” Dr. Dery said, explaining that in his culture, people often seek alternative treatments first.

“This has been a great opportunity for us to partner with Dr. Dery so that he can observe our medical system and methods that are used,” said Dr. Cobb. “Dr. Dery is the only physician at the hospital in his town. Through observing our surgeons, he’s been able to learn new techniques to improve care for his patients back home.”

During his visit at OCH, Dr. Dery was able to observe several surgeries such as the removal of a gallbladder, a bowel resection and obstetric surgeries. In addition, Dr. Dery took note of the hospital’s best practices and learned about infection control and patient safety methods in order to directly improve the practices in his home village.

“I am really grateful to the staff at OCH, especially the theater [operating room] crew. Everyone here has been ready to assists me or explain to me each technique and help me learn. Because of the hospitality they’ve shown, I’ve been able to learn more and come up with goals to help my patients when I return home,” said Dr. Dery.

One of the short-term goals Dr. Dery mentioned was replacing the tile floors in the surgery room that can be slippery and more difficult to sanitize and improving patient care by making patients more comfortable and educating the patients on their plan of care.

As for long-term goals. Dr. Dery said he would one day like to have access to the advanced medical equipment he has seen at OCH that allows for less invasive procedures and a faster recovery time for his patients. At the hospital where he practices, there are no devices to perform laparoscopic surgeries. Dr. Dery explained he is only able to perform open surgeries with a spinal block. Anesthesia is not available, among many other much-needed medical supplies.

Because of the shortage of basic necessities, OCH donated much-needed supplies for Dr. Dery such as towels, gloves and cautery.

BJ’s Family Pharmacy in Starkville donated medicine such as antibiotics for Dr. Dery to prescribe to his patients.

“Medicine that we have easy access to here in America is scarce in so many other parts of the world.  My wife and I have had the privilege of serving in medical missions overseas, and this is another way for us to give back to others who are less fortunate, and hopefully, improve their quality of life,” said BJ Cougle.

For a complete list of the OCH medical staff, visit our physician directory.

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