UA-63899747-1 Back to Liberia Day 2 – Nzinga Harrison, MD
Back to Liberia Day 1
January 10, 2014
Back to Liberia Day 3- Roachgate
January 12, 2014

Well, last night turned out just fine. The temperature dropped to 79, so with the fan, I was able to sleep comfortably in the double bed. I apparently made the time change just fine (5 hours) as I woke up 5 minutes before the alarm was going off at 7am (the equivalent of 2am EST). The shower pressure was awesome and the water was hot which made for a nice morning routine. After a delicious breakfast of a fruit cup and fiber square (not!), I brushed my teeth with bottled water, took my anti-malaria pill, sprayed DEET all over (including my face) and got ready for the day.

When the driver arrived to take me to the hospital, my rainbow loom fishtail bracelet that Nasir made me fell off. I looked at it, and somehow it was broken. At first, I couldn’t figure it out, and then I realized the DEET was dissolving the rubber bands. No fixing that puppy. Moment of silence for my fishtail bracelet…

Alright, alright. Back to the blog. On the way to the hospital, I noticed that there were hardly any motorbikes on the road (a complete change from my last visit) and that there was a new type of three wheeled vehicle that seemed to be carrying people around. Sure enough, my driver told me that the government banned pen pen (motorbike taxis) on the main roads because there were too many injuries, deaths and riots. It made for a completely different commute experience.

So today was an inservice for previous graduates of the Mental Health Program and family members, held at the country’s one psychiatric facility, Grant Hospital. There were 40 graduates and 5 family members of individuals with addiction. Now, I learned from my last trip that ultimate flexibility is key and that proved true today as well. Case and point, I was told today would be an 8 hour in-service. I knew from last time, that it would be closer to 6 hours. They told me that I would lecture the clinicians/graduates in the morning, do clinical rounds and demonstrate a support group for the family members in the afternoon. So, I put together 4 hours’ worth of slides with the thought that it would cover the morning session. When I arrived, I found out that the lecture portion would include both the clinicians and the family members (which meant translating nearly every slide from clinical speak to regular English as I went along) and get this… the lecture was allotted 40 minutes. FORTY MINUTES!!!!!!!!! I had FOUR HOURS of slides! Oh, and then the course coordinator asked me for the post-test. Post-test?! I said, somewhat dumbfounded. I thought we didn’t need one…turns out, they hadn’t wanted to cancel the pre-test and post-test. Just the pre-test… Well, as always, everything worked out. Somehow, I squeezed four hours of lectures into 2 hours, condensed clinical rounds from 2 hours to 45 minutes and demonstrated group for 15 minutes instead of an hour. I wrote an exam on the spot during breakfast (a nice surprise) and the class went great.

Afterwards, I trained one of the staff at Grant Hospital to administer urine drug screens. An important note here is that, despite raging drug use in Liberia, there are no urine drug screens in the entire country. My company, Anka Behavioral Health, Inc. (shameless shoutout!) donated 160 drug screens to the hospital, so we can get a sense of what people are actually using and hopefully advocate for drug screens to be available in the country. In order to train him, I made him pee in a cup and told him I sure hoped the test came out clean! It did…

And that was pretty much the day. I am in my twin bed oasis, soaking up AC (oh, there was none during the 8 hour inservice, so needless to say the funk factor is very serious right now) and catching up on social media. Funny thing -- I have not seen one single roach since going to bed last night. What to make of that?!

There are hardly any pictures today besides a couple of the students and one selfie with some of my original students from July that came back today for the inservice. It’s my favorite. You’ll know which one it is. You can find them at this link:

And tomorrow, the real adventure begins…off to Gbarnga!

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