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CCH doctor and nurse serve God and West African people on medical mission

CCH doctor and nurse serve God and West African people on medical mission

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 the patients.

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 are unreliable.

“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: https://abwetogosouth.org/ministries/hbb/.

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 Facebook page!

Captions:
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.

CCH Delora Schmidt RN Africa 2018 rosary beads

CCH Delora Schmidt RN Africa 2018 blood pressure check nurse

CCH Delora Schmidt RN teaching brushing teeth Africa 2018

CCH Dr John Gall in clinic Africa 2018

CCH Gall Schmidt Africa 2018 Home

CCH John Gall MD Africa 2018

CCH RN Delora Schmidt Africa 2018 rubbing feet nursing

CCH Schmidt Gall Africa 2018 Carry