reflections - THE HUMAN SIDE OF OPTOMETRY
Under African Skies
Part II of Dr. Shannon's West African adventure.
BERNARD J. SHANNON, O.D.,
Click here to view Part 1
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."
"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
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.
DO YOU HAVE A MEMORABLE
EXPERIENCE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE? DISCUSS YOUR STORY WITH RENé
LUTHE, SENIOR ASSOCIATE EDITOR OF OPTOMETRIC
MANAGEMENT, AT (215) 643-8132 OR LUTHER@BOUCHER1.COM.
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Optometric Management, Issue: September 2005