Operation International To Bring First Neurosurgery Center to Techiman, Ghana
December 27, 2023
Whether it be through much-needed equipment donations or training for local hospital staff, the influence of an Operation International team extends long beyond when the volunteers pack up and leave a given region. In 2024, that lasting impact will come in the form of an entire medical center.
The NeuroTeam, formed by Dr. Sarah Jernigan in 2023, is getting ready to open a neurosurgery center at Operation International’s base at Holy Family Hospital in Techiman, Ghana. The center will be the first of its kind in that part of the country.
“We hope to add to the hospital infrastructure so that we can slowly increase the breadth of neurosurgery available to the community as well as provide neurosurgical access to patients who might not otherwise have access,” said Dr. Jernigan, noting improved equipment and supplies that the team plans to bring to the hospital.
Dr. Jernigan and the NeuroTeam plan to open the neurosurgery center, which will serve both adult and pediatric patients, during their maiden mission in April. So far, they have been fundraising, securing instruments to donate to the hospital (including drills and endoscopes) and working with community neurosurgeons to set up patient screenings and determine which types of cases can be performed during the trip.
A Next Step in Service
The exciting project is far from the first time Dr. Jernigan–who completed medical school in Kentucky and a residency and fellowship in neurosurgery at Boston Children’s/Brigham and Women’s Hospital–has used her medical expertise to serve those in need.
A Peace Corps volunteer after college, Dr. Jernigan worked as part of a United Nations effort to improve maternal and child health in the mountain regions of Morocco. Later, while working in Miami, she would travel several times to Haiti through a program led by Miami Children’s Hospital and a hospital in Port-at-Prince. Most recently, after joining Carolina Neurosurgery and Spine Associates in Charlotte, North Carolina, Dr. Jernigan worked with World Pediatric Project at a hospital in the Dominican Republic.
Dr. Jernigan decided to explore working with Operation International after hearing about the organization from a travel nurse in Charlotte who had volunteered with Team New York, she said.
“She sang the praises of OI and after a conversation with Medhat, I was impressed with the organization and support network he and the other founding members have built,” Dr. Jernigan said. “I love the support an guidance they provide to allow you to work toward success as a team leader and the time they put into making sure we are putting our efforts into locations where there is both community need and local government support.”
Dr. Jernigan has been working since early 2023 with physicians and administrative staff at Holy Family Hospital to make the new neurosurgery center a reality.
The team hopes that, with continuous training of local staff and donation of equipment, the center can become a neurosurgery referral center for other hospitals located in the central part of the country within the next three to five years.
Operation International’s continued growth is only possible through the generosity of our supporters. It is because of you that history-making projects like the neurosurgery center can continue to make a difference for those in need.