21 May 2019

“The care for the sick is remarkable and inspiring”

John Domatiere Barnabas works as Head of Accounts and Finance at Benito Menni Hospital in Dompoase (Ghana).

How long have you been working for the Sisters Hospitallers?

I have been working for and with the Sisters Hospitallers for the past 15 months and it has been a continuing formation process. I could not have asked for a better environment within which to work. Previously, I worked for St. Michael Hospital (Pramso) for 13 years.

What would you say makes this Institution special?

Although it has been just a year and some few months, my working for them has been life changing and a blessing. Imagine the feeling of identifying some aspects of one’s self with others, knowing that others share your core values and provide you with the right environment and examples to practice and live by those values, how fulfilling! And so, with the zeal and passion to serve, help people and change society, I easily got initiated into the Hospitaller values and working environment, which is uniquely infectious and enables anyone to identify with them.

These values make the sisters special. They are hands-on, versatile and highly practical irrespective of their professional backgrounds; they show the way to be sensitive to the marginalised, to accept people as they are, that is to say, “come as you are”, you are warmly welcome. The care for and service to the sick and needy is admirably remarkable and inspiring. One can also notice that this is a community of sisters who have a historical perspective and are guided and guarded by high ethical and professional standards.

Knowing that others have and share your core values and provide you with the right environment and examples to practice and live by those values, how fulfilling!

In relation to health care, the sisters foster teamwork and believe that with the many facets of health care and the many kinds of professionals, it will take working as a team to achieve holistic care; which is also a hallmark of the sisters. Of course, I must also mention how special the sisters are by the way they carry and present themselves. They are warm and welcoming, interactive, pleasant and supportive offering good personal and professional counsel to not just the patients but the staff and employees alike. I notice that once you encounter the Sisters, you either take on their values or you get swept off your feet by their values and so you end up getting formed, reformed or transformed and this is amazing.

What is it like to work at the Benito Menni Hospital?

I feel happy working here and foresee great times ahead. I have by far enjoyed a good and an enabling working environment and relations that embrace high ethical and professional standards. As the Head of Accounts and Finance department, I strive to ensure resources are made available and put to good use while championing prudent financial management and decisions.

This does not come easy inasmuch as information has to be made available to management to inform decisions that are made. This requires the processing of recording, classifying, summarising and reporting-timely accounting and financial information. This apparently does not make room for a blink, strict supervision, verification and vouching of activities and transactions is the order.

What I like most about my job is the fact that it makes me analytical, assertive, results and growth-oriented. I prepare reports periodically on hospital finances and contribute my knowledge, skills and experience to monitor and evaluate management decisions and ultimately subscribing to leadership and governance of the hospital.

Can you recall a truly special moment working at the hospital?

Every blessed day at work has been special and has uniquely impacted on my life. I have however had a couple of special moments.

I recall the monthly birthday celebration for all March-borns in 2018 at the Day Centre for which I was invited as a special guest. The children, about 34 of them with learning disabilities were well taken care of, neatly dressed and presented. The other supporting staff knew what to do and when. As I watched in awe how they cleaned and washed the mess some of them created and lovingly brought them to order to follow proceedings of the birthday celebration, my eyes got glassy, filled with tears and I was at the same time happy.

As the saying goes, “a party without Jollof is no party”, good meals were served and then followed the cutting of the birthday cake. This was done amid the singing of the happy birthday song. I was indeed grateful to be there with them and thought to myself how dedicated the sisters and other staff are in caring for these children who might not even have this kind of care at home.

Every activity and decision translates into costs and so analysing them and providing information to help make informed choices is a sure way of contributing to ensuring the Hospitaller mission.

Sequentially, in April 2018 as part of activities, there was a training on hospitaller values during which we worked in groups to further discuss the values and relate them to our work as health workers. This was very revealing and refreshing because I noticed that the values combined provide a working tool for us to work with in one sentence. From that moment, I felt this good message should reach all staff and should be guarding principles that should shepherd us in our day to day work even as “lay Hospitallers”.

The mission of the national Catholic health service is to “continue the healing ministry of Christ by providing holistic care to all manner of persons and in the underserved communities with qualified professionals with good ethical and moral values.” Anyone who shares in this mission and takes on the Hospitaller values will be well positioned to make an impact with their work.

How do you believe you are contributing to the Hospitaller mission/to the community?

I see myself playing a basic but indispensable role in relation to the growth and profitability of the hospital and the centre. Every activity and decision translates into costs and so analysing them and providing information to help make informed choices is a sure way of contributing to ensuring the Hospitaller mission is work-in-process. Working closely with the sisters and asking them for direction, making budgets and funds available for them, contributing ideas and facilitating activities of the pastoral care team are ways I find myself contributing to the community.

Is there anything else you would like to mention?

I am very passionate about the growth of the hospital and the daycare centre and so will call for much more intense advocacy and project proposals to obtain more funds for the mental health unit/ daycare centre and for that matter the Hospitaller community.  The centre currently has a new 15-seater mini-bus to convey users to and from their homes daily. As double trips are needed, an additional bus or bigger capacity bus would help the situation. Within the catchment areas, there are several mental health cases that require outreach approaches and resources.

I am very passionate about the growth of the hospital and the daycare centre and so will call for much more intense advocacy and project proposals to obtain more funds for the mental health unit and for that matter the Hospitaller community.

Again, the community should revamp the food production and processing unit with a focus on food crop production, animal farming and poultry. This is because the land is largely available and lying fallow.  Similarly, as the hospital grows and expands with the needed infrastructural developments to have more space for facilities and services, there ought to be the need to build adequate staff accommodation.

Finally, by virtue of the location of the hospital that is by the highway and near the scarp (an accident-prone) area much more emergency preparedness should be put in place. The capacity of the emergency unit should be built with the provision of requisite equipment. Moreover, as the only referral centre in the district surrounded by about 40 CHPS compounds in the many villages, efforts should be made to acquire an ambulance to facilitate the referral of patients in emergency cases to the teaching hospital since currently there is none and calling the national ambulance takes a lot of time.