Last year, Michaela Mayhew, Liz Donovan and Dennis Kennedy from St-Georges Hospital (SGH) Trust’s dialysis unit in London, UK visited their sister dialysis unit at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi, Ghana. It was a second visit for Michaela, a nurse consultant in Venous Access Services at SGH, who had spent a week there in October 2008.
The timing proved benefi cial and helped staff onsite take on several actions to boost the unit’s services, morale and communication. “Renal technician Dennis was valuable in teaching the enthusiastic biomedical staff affi liated with the dialysis unit. Liz’s expertise as a nurse educator was particularly benefi cial as the unit is keen to explore the feasibility of a peritoneal dialysis service,” explains Mayhew.
Opened in 2000, the KATH dialysis center treats fi ve to six patients per dialysis session and provides hemodialysis for local residents and patients from abroad. In 2009, 1,375 patients were referred to the nephrology unit and 477 patients underwent hemodialysis. Staff voiced a strong need for validated training in nursing and technical services. A talk on blood and fl uid pathways in hemodialysis machines, covering components, their purpose and principles of operation helped participants understand the basics of dialysis. This was followed by a detailed session on Fresenius modules to monitor blood pressure, troubleshooting techniques and operating a problematic machine.
“We were happy to provide the technicians with reference instrumentation that measures temperature, conductivity and pressure, so they maintain the dialysis machines and identify faulty equipment. We also helped clarify the procurement process for obtaining spare parts,” adds Mayhew.
The UK team was impressed to see that patients were dialyzed via a radio cephalic arterial-venous fi stula (A-VF). Previously, no patients had an A-VF and were dialyzed using an ‘acute’ dialysis catheter designed to dwell for less than four weeks. Some of these catheters had been left in situ for longer than six months.
“We all felt extremely privileged to have visited Ghana and KATH. The renal teams are dedicated to providing the best care possible for their patients and are amazingly resourceful. In our opinion, the hospital must increase resources and improve supporting systems to ensure that the local population will continue to have access to a safe and consistent hemodialysis service,” she concludes.