17 Sep 2020

“I do really like the humanitarian aspect of my job.”

Alexander Aryeh works as a psychiatric nurse at San Benito Menni Hospital in Dompoase, Ghana. He specialises in Mental Health and has worked at the Day Centre for three years, taking care of children with mental health difficulties. Since the lockdown in Ghana, his job has become more difficult, but it doesn’t prevent him from visiting the children in their homes for follow-ups and to ensure their wellbeing.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am 31years old, born and bred in Accra, where I had my basic and secondary education at Victory International School and Accra Academy. I then pursued mental health nursing at Ankaful nursing training college in the central region (Cape coast)

Alexander Aryeh Psychiatric Nurse at San Benito Menni Hospital.

I am the older child from a family of four living in Accra.

I am very passionate about my job, trying to serve my patients diligently and always pride myself on being an effective mental health practitioner.

How long have you been working with Sisters Hospitallers? Did you know about our institution before?

I’ve been working here for three years. No, I did not know the Hospitallers before coming to work with them.

What do you like most about your job?

I do really like the humanitarian aspect of my job.

Can you tell us about your daily activities?

  • my daily activity starts with education at the OPD on mental health issues
  • checking attendance of rehab patients
  • supervising them at breakfast
  • providing medication to rehab clients
  • consultation of out-patients cases
  • supervision of classroom activities of rehab clients
  • lunch supervision
  • supervision of clients to be transported to their various homes
  • any other duties that help the daily patient rehabilitation process

How has life changed since the pandemic?

Rehabilitation activities have been halted since the patients have been asked to stay home, while outpatients attendance has also decreased.

What are the new challenges you are facing?

Inability to visit the rehab patient on a frequent basis due to the lockdown.

Do you have enough equipment?

NO, we don’t have enough equipment.

Do you continue to visit the children for follow-ups? Could you tell us how many children you have visited?

Yes, and I have visited about fifteen of the children.

Why do you visit them?

To check up on them and also provide them with their medications. Also to be sure that they are in good health and being taken care of.

How often do you visit them?

On a monthly basis and in emergencies.

Parents and guardians are given education on treatment regimes and the expected side effects of medication.

Can you explain to us how a normal visit to them is?

A normal visit provides them with necessities (medications), and they also see themselves as belonging to a family who never gives up on them by always putting smiles on their faces.

Do their families receive any type of training to be able to take care of them?

Yes, parents and guardians are given education on treatment regimes and the expected side effects of medication. Also, parents are taken through basic training to help clients and parents cope in home settings.

What kind of diseases do they suffer from?

The conditions they are suffering from include:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Intellectual disability
  • Epileptic psychosis
  • Autism
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

What worries you most about the children not coming to the Day Centre?

My worry is not being able to regularly monitor treatment regimes and nutritional needs.

What could happen if the lockdown is extended?

If the lockdown is extended, the condition of patients could deteriorate, and there would be distortions in their rehabilitation processes.

Are you worried about any child in particular? Why?

Yes, I’m really worried about one, Samuel Adu, because, apart from his physical abnormality, his guardian is unable to provide the care and monitoring needed.

What are the benefits for the children coming to the Day Centre?

  • their nutritional needs are provided and supervised.
  • their treatment regime is also monitored.
  • they are taken through various rehabilitation processes.
A normal visit provides them with necessities, and they also see themselves as belonging to a family who never gives up on them by always putting smiles on their faces.

What do you enjoy most about the patients?

I really enjoy their willingness to be taught and to learn.

What do you find most challenging about your job?

The occasional shortage of certain medication and inadequate learning materials.

Have you been through any difficult times working here?

Yes, I was being called out late at night to attend to an emergency case, where transportation was not available. Frighteningly, I had to walk through the dark to see the patient.

Can you recall any special moments?

A special moment was when relatives of mentally ill patients we had treated came back to show their gratitude for services provided for them.

What would you say makes this institution special?

Unlike other facilities, this institution absorbs medication costs for some patients and also provides them with their nutritional needs (breakfast and lunch) and transportation to their various homes.

What it is like to work with the sisters?

It is very intriguing working with the sisters, with their high sense of morality.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about working at the hospital or the Day Centre?

Working at the Day Centre and the hospital as a whole is such a wonderful thing. One needs a high sense of responsibility and to work diligently, because it’s not just serving the sick but more of a service to God.

Would you like to say anything to the Hospitaller community?

I would like to commend the Hospitallers community for their immense contribution to the health and the wellbeing of the mentally and physically disabled within the locality.

I would also wish to encourage the community to continue extending their generous support to the mentally and physically disabled to help build a healthy community.