reflections - THE HUMAN SIDE OF OPTOMETRY
Under African Skies
Part II of Dr. Shannon's West African adventure.
BERNARD J. SHANNON, O.D., SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ.
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Days passed and at last the accountant completed the expense calculations I'd requested and grimly brought the results to Dr. Archie. We sat down with the figures and his customary smile faded. The numbers made it obvious the financial health of the clinic soon would be terminal.
Cold, hard facts
Dr. Archie called a staff meeting for the next morning. He opened by thanking me. Then he said, "I want you to know that every day we take in 4,000,000 Cedi."
The staff cheered.
"But, as Dr. Shannon helped us determine, our expenses are almost 5,000,000 Cedi a day."
"None of you will lose your job," he continued, "but we must make changes!" Dr. Archie outlined what he had learned in the time I was working with him, including the under utilization of equipment. "And we must have staff training!" he concluded. "It is very important!"
Next he asked for ideas for reducing costs without affecting patient care. Suggestions poured out from the staff.
"Better inventory control."
"Improve our recall system."
"Expand our hours."
"Perhaps we can share our equipment, for a fee, with other health providers who do not have this equipment," proposed the technician.
That very day, Dr. Archie and I set up appointments with the local hospital and other health care providers to explore the possibility of their using Dr. Archie's underutilized equipment for a fee.
I wondered how the other practitioners would welcome us. We went first to a competing clinic. Dr. Archie explained that his clinic had underutilized sophisticated modern laboratory equipment like the Blood Analyzer and the Ultra Sound. He then asked the practitioner if it would be a benefit to him and his patients to have access to this equipment. You could see the eyes of the doctor light up.
"Would it! My patients need what you have, and what I cannot afford to buy." Dr. Archie shook hands with his new colleague and made an appointment to work out the details.
"And I will make sure I send the patients back to you," Dr. Archie promised.
Word gets around quickly in Ho. The chief of staff at the government clinic heard of my work with Archie's clinic and our meetings with fellow practitioners. He contacted Dr. Archie, asking if I could do staff training for the government clinic on "How to do visual screenings."
"Do it," he said. "They are my colleagues."
My time in Ho would soon be finished. As I made plans to journey home, Dr. Archie came with one last request. "The staff wonders if you will conduct training for them before you go."
So, under the Banyan tree, in Ho, Ghana, West Africa, I conducted one of the most memorable sessions of my career.
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