Togo, a West African nation on the Gulf of Guinea, is known for its palm-lined
beaches and hilltop villages. It’s also home to
Hôpital Baptiste Biblique or Karolyn Kempton Memorial Christian Hospital, a full service hospital
that is staffed by missionary medical personnel and Togolese employees.
Dr. John Gall, board certified in
Emergency Medicine, and
Campbell County Memorial Hospital House Supervisor
Delora Schmidt, RN, traveled to this community in February 2018 to lend a helping hand.
The medical mission was Delora’s first mission trip, and Dr. Gall’s
seventh—each time, he’s worked in Togo.
“For me, medical missions are a multi-faceted experience. I like
being able to give back to those who are less fortunate than I with the
skills that I’ve been blessed with,” says Dr. Gall. “I
also enjoy the medicine aspect of the mission. It’s interesting
to take care of things you’ve only read about in textbooks and never
seen in America—like malaria and typhoid—while being able
to serve God.”
For Delora, she also saw it as a way to serve God, and people. “It
is always an eye opener to be able to reach out and serve the true poor,”
she says. “I think trips like this are important for anyone to have
their eyes opened. It gives a different perspective on life and how we
live. I am changed because of this mission trip.”
According to its website, annually Karolyn Kempton Memorial Christian Hospital
provides care to more than 2,200 inpatients, including nearly 1,500 surgical
cases and 600 deliveries. The hospital also runs a Nurse Training Program,
a Mobile Health Clinic and Community Health Evangelism ministries.
Dr. Gall spent most of his time working as a family physician in the clinic
and hospital—patients who were sick enough to be admitted during
the clinic hours were sent to the hospital, and the other patients were
treated and released in the clinic. He also took call during the night.
Dr. Gall explained that part of his job while on this mission was to help
relieve the full-time staff at the hospital, not just provide care for
Delora spent her time there working in all of the hospital departments
including the Intensive Care Unit, Operating Room, Men’s Ward, Women’s
Ward, Infection Ward, Pediatrics and Maternity/Nursery. She also spent
a great deal of time massaging feet and backs. Delora also visited a school
with the organization and did some education on brushing teeth in a couple
of the classrooms.
Delora also mentioned that families of patients are responsible for bathing,
walking or moving around, providing linens and changing them, and providing
food and water, which allowed more time for the nurses to take on more
patients. Each nurse at this hospital took care of nearly eight patients each.
Each time, the experience of a medical mission gives Dr. Gall a fresh perspective
on how he uses his skills. “I think it’s important for everyone
to have a perspective of how blessed we are in the United States. Physicians,
like anyone, can get bogged down in the day-to-day grind of what we do,”
he explains. “On missions, participants get a good idea of what
it’s like to work in a resource limited environment. You have to
be judicious—when do I actually need gloves, a mask? What happens
if we run out of this antibiotic?”
Delora said she was also impacted by how many resources American’s
have. “We have access to a multitude of medications, equipment,
supplies, and tests. Even simple things like gloves, masks, gauze, bandages,
and so on. They use torn linen for many things and reuse them. I’m
definitely more grateful for these little things after this experience,” she says.
Being his seventh trip, Dr. Gall says the patients who stay in his memories
often deal with children. He explained that he worked with children who
had meningitis or malaria, where if they hadn’t been treated, they
would have died. However, he also points out that many of the children
who are treated may not be as fortunate.
“It’s very rare for a doctor in a community hospital in the
United States to have to deal with a pediatric death. The month I was
there, there were 10 children who died because they were so sick. It’s
a hard experience,” he says. Dr. Gall mentioned that infant mortality
in areas like Togo are 43 for every 1,000 residents, vs 5.8 for every
1,000 in the United States.
Delora, who says she’s wanted to go on a medical mission since she
was in high school (and knew that she wanted to be a nurse), documented
much of her experience on her personal Facebook page for family and friends
to see. She’s also given presentations to classrooms, nurses and
other staff within CCH, as well as
St. Matthew's Catholic Church, where she worships God.
Before she went on the mission, many of the parishioner’s at Delora’s
church gave her money so that she could make a bigger impact while she
was there. “I was proud to take part in helping people where it
was needed. I provided clothing, shoes, food, fixed up a couple of houses
and paid some medical bills of the people who were in the hospital there,”
she says. Something to keep in mind: the average annual income in Togo
is between $500 and $1,500.
The duo encourages others, not necessarily only medical providers, to consider
participating in medical missions; however, both say to do so with an
open mind. Mission hospitals can use plumbers, electricians, well drillers,
mechanics, accountants, teachers and many other professional skills. They
are functioning as a small city where the local water and electrical supply
“You have to adapt to the situation that you’re in, the limitations
and frustrations of where you’re working. Be open minded and adaptable,
and go in with a can-do attitude. Try to help out as much as you can,”
Dr. Gall offers.
“There is much to be seen in our world; so much diversity and there
is much to learn from that,” says Delora. “The people of Togo,
Africa have so little yet they seem to have a greater sense of joy. That
was profound to me.”
For those interested in participating in a medical mission, or even giving
to communities less fortunate, Dr. Gall recommends you check out two organizations:
Association of Baptists for World Evangelism (ABWE) and
World Medical Mission. The specific hospital that Dr. Gall and Delora served can be found online here:
Delora also recommended giving to a specific project. According to Delora,
there are 15 schools throughout Togo that are part of the organization
that organized their mission. Delora explains that currently, the children
go to the bathroom in the field behind the school, and the school would
like to build outhouses so the children have a private place. It costs
$1,400 to put up one set of boy/girl bathrooms. Another financial need
is money for tuition, which costs $40 a year to put one child through
school. If interested, visit
http://www.fim.org/get-involved/giving/, and under the “select ministry preference from the drop down menu”
section in One-Time Giving Form, select Sopcisak Togo School Project Fund
to give for the outhouses and Sopcisak Students Scholarships Fund to pay
for a child to attend school.
To see more phots from the trip, check out CCH's
1. Delora Schmidt, RN, gave some women in the village some of the rosary
beads she was given by St. Matthew's.
2. Delora Schmidt, RN, doing a blood pressure check at a clinic while
on her medical mission.
3. Delora Schmidt, RN, teaching some children in Togo, Africa about the
importance of brushing their teeth.
4. Dr. John Gall doing a medical assessment of a patient in Togo, Africa.
5. A pic of a typical house setting in Togo, Africa.
6. Dr. John Call speaking with another doctor at the clinic during the
medical mission in Togo Africa.
7. Delora Schmidt, RN, rubbing a patient's foot as part of her nursing
duties during her medical mission to Togo, Africa.
8. A woman carrying supplies to her home in Togo, Africa.