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The State Journal-Register, Springfield, Illinois [Sunday, June 15, 2008]



Springfield doctor's dream comes true  

By KATHLEEN OSTRANDER
STATE JOURNAL-REGISTER
Posted Jun 14, 2008 @ 11:31 PM
Last update Jun 15, 2008 @ 08:09 AM

 

MUGSHOT
Agamah, his family and volunteer medical staff have labored for two years to build the clinic.

WHETA-DZADOKPO , Ghana — Most people don't experience the exhilaration of a dream that they worked hard for being realized in their lifetime.
Springfield physician Edem Agamah has.

A jubilant but tired Agamah said the opening of a clinic near his hometown of Agbozume on Saturday fulfilled a dream and put him through a range of emotions that few people have experienced. 

The 20,000-square-foot International Health and Development Network Mission Hospital in Wheta-Dzadokpo, outside of Agbozume, brings health care to an area where villagers walked miles and miles for care that would be considered routine in the United States .

It brings health care to an area where occasional clinics by visiting doctors were well attended — unless a clinic fell on market day and then economics trumped medical attention.

Agamah, his family and volunteer medical staff from around the country have labored for two years to build the clinic. Agamah has led a series of missions to his home country and has shipped materials back from Springfield to keep the building on track.

This mission came to Wheta-Dzadokpo on June 10. With four days before the opening of the clinic, volunteers worked 20-hour days to make sure the planned opening was successful.

“When we got here there was still much painting to be done. The pump I had shipped from Springfield to bring the water supply to the clinic did not work so we had to find another one. There were shelves to put up and lots of cleaning,” he said in a phone interview from his parents' home in Agbozume.

Springfield dentist Robert Burris made the trip with Agamah's group this time. He has been shipping supplies to the clinic for more than a year.

“This is the first time there has been dental care offered,” Agamah said. “The staff has stayed at the clinic, even though it is evening here, to keep working with Dr. Burris. There are many extractions and much work to still be done.”

Burris said before he left that he has made several mission trips overseas and he always gets back more than he puts in.

The morning opening of the clinic drew a crowd of more than 2,000, a number greater than Agamah expected. Ghana 's minister of health was there as well as numerous other political dignitaries and the chiefs of the tribes who live in the area surrounding the clinic.

“There was much joy,” Agamah said. “It is a happy occasion. There were speeches by the dignitaries and I gave a presentation about what we expect to do and then we began blood pressure screenings.” 

The clinic will be closed today, and the staff will take some down time, he said. On Monday, follow-up begins for the patients who have been seen earlier in the visit when Agamah wasn't working on the clinic. There are training sessions scheduled all week for local medical staff members who will be working in the clinic and some of those who came on the mission with Agamah will conduct Christian leadership training.

There have been numerous setbacks during the past two years. Two other parcels of land were purchased only to be discarded after work began because the clinic wouldn't work on that specific site. “You don't just build something here,” Agamah said. “You clear the land, you build a road and then you build a road onto the property.
You dig and put in the water connections. Cement, doors and windows are carried on your backs to the site. The volunteers here work when they can, but they can't always work.”

Through it all, Agamah relied on his faith and his family. “I trusted that the almighty would not let us get into something that we couldn't finish,” he said.