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Interview with Mama Lu at the IHCC clinic

Mama Lu is the ‘registered nurse’ whose salary is paid with the donation of ‘De Trut’. She is invaluable at the clinic and has a great heart for her patients. Below is a short interview with her:

Mama Lu, could you tell something about yourself?

Mama LuMy name is Lucy Domphrey, but everybody calls me Mama Lu.
I am Ghanaian and 52 years old. I lived in America for many years, where I worked as a registered nurse. It was the US where I gained my working experience in the field of HIV/AIDS. Four years ago, I decided to come back to Ghana. Although I liked my life in America, something was missing and I had the strong feeling that my motherland Ghana needed me more.

How did you get in contact with Naa Ashiley?

Three year ago, one of my friends introduced me to Naa Ashiley. I was impressed by the passion she puts at work and I decided to volunteer as a nurse for two days a week. Since then, I am stuck in this clinic.

How do you experience your work in the clinic?

As I said, I can not leave her. The work I am doing here makes me feel fulfilled and gives me the feeling that I am really helping Naa Ashiley and the patients. Especially the in-patient care, with little things somebody is comforted for the day.

The other side-activities are also satisfying to me. As an example, I coordinate the income-generating project and this program, which is called ‘The Almond Tree’, is really going on well. After being diagnosed with HIV, these people were in so much trouble. But since they are part of the ‘Almond Tree’, they are much more satisfied. The work makes that they can take their mind off their illness, that they can interact with people who are in the same situation and of course, they get some income from it as well.

Could you explain to me how a working day at IHCC looks like?

My working day starts at 8 o’clock. I look after the out-patients first. I see an average of 10-15 clients each working day. In total 400 patients are registered in the clinic. I do the general consultation and, very important for HIV patients, I do the adherence counseling. It is very essential that our clients stick to their drug regime to prevent drug resistance.

Secondly, I look after the in-patients. They are normally in a very bad condition.
We try to minimize the admissions because of the cost and impact for the patient. Most of our in-patients are in terminal condition, so the care we offer is most of the time hospice care. Wound treatment is an important aspect of both in-patients and out-patient care and therefore, wound cleaning and drainage are also one of my main activities.

Beside these nursing activities, I supervise and train the ward-assistants. Seven ward assistants are working in the clinic and they are officially trained. Some of them are HIV positive themselves. These ward-assistants do a lot for us. They are always around to assistant the in-patients, also during the night. At any time, if there is a problem or emergency, they get in contact with me or Naa Ashiley.

Additionally, as I have said, I coordinate the income generating project. We have fifteen members and recently, we offer micro-financing for them to start their own business.

Home-based care is something I would like extend. At the moment, we are trying to develop a manual and train patients who are well to offer care for patients who are sick and shut in their houses. We hope to develop an official training program, so we can train members of other associations as well.

Finally, I represent IHCC at conferences.

How many days do you work?

Since I had an operation and can not walk as much as before, I am working for two days. Depending on other activities, I will be around at the other days as well. I hope, in the nearby future, I will be able to work for three days.
We have two nurses working at the clinic. The other nurse is Carmen, she is from the UK and is lives in Ghana for four years. She volunteers at the days I am not around. She is of great help.

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