Jan Tello will never forget her trip to Ghana. During the week-long trip to visit Sanford World Clinic facilities throughout the country, Jan and her husband, Tony Tello, M.D., came to know the Ghanaian people as vibrant and generous.
“We had heard about the Sanford World Clinic initiative over the years,” Jan said, “but actually seeing the facilities and meeting the people exceeded anything we could have imagined.”
Jan and Tony, from Bismarck, North Dakota, traveled to Ghana with a group of fellow Sanford Health Foundation supporters and Sanford Health leaders, including Micah Aberson, chief global brand officer; Dan Blue, M.D., Sanford World Clinic executive vice president; and Bobbie Tibbetts, foundation vice president.
With the operational expertise and connections of those leaders, the travelers were able to experience Ghana and World Clinic facilities in a unique way. This once-in-a-lifetime experience came at the personal expense of the foundation supporters.
‘Delivering hope’ through Sanford World Clinic
The Tellos have been longtime friends of Sanford Health. Jan serves as secretary of the Sanford Health Foundation West Region board of directors. Tony is a critical care physician at Sanford Bismarck.
“At the end of this trip, I felt so honored to be part of the Sanford family, because together, we are delivering hope to these people,” Jan said.
Dave Link, former chief strategy officer at Sanford Health, and his wife, Laurie Link, from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, also traveled to Ghana alongside the Tellos.
“It’s a very sobering experience to see the amount of need people have there,” Dave said. “I’m really happy with what Sanford is doing, providing permanent health care services and infrastructure in a sustainable way.”
The group visited three Sanford World Clinics in Cape Coast, Mankessim and Adenta. They also visited local schools and historic and cultural landmarks. Inside the clinics, they saw the immense need for health care in Ghana, where one of the leading causes of death is malaria. This is a treatable and preventable disease.
“I’ve never seen poverty to this level, and when we went to Cape Coast we saw these tiny little shacks and children playing in the dirt,” Jan said. “To have facilities that are clean with modern technology is such a blessing for these communities.
“We saw the trust and gratitude the patients had for the doctors and nurses, knowing they were receiving the best care. It was really a wonderful experience.”
Provide permanent care
The Sanford World Clinic initiative started in 2007 through the transformational gift from Denny Sanford. It was designed to provide permanent health care services for children and families. Additionally, each outpatient facility provides consulting, IV hydration, maternity care, wound care, health education, telemedicine, laboratory and pharmacy services.
Starting in 2012, Sanford Health also established a relationship with the Ghana Ministry of Health. It continues to work with the government to provide quality health care and related technology close to home. By continuing to partner with the Ghanaian government, Sanford Health plans to expand upon its current 23 clinics. They also plan to open more facilities in urban and rural communities across the country.
“I hope others will realize Sanford is doing really meaningful and important work around the globe, develop an appreciation for the need that is out there and understand how they may be able to help and make a difference,” Dave said.
The clinics have brought health care services to more than 725,000 patients. Furthermore, Sanford Health’s place in the communities has created new opportunities for education, employment and hope. The group met school children who hope to be nurses and doctors — dreams that may not be possible without role models in their community to look up to.
“It’s really hard to express to people how simple the needs are and how easy it is to make a big impact,” Jan said. “Together, we can offer a hand up instead of a hand out that is so life-changing.”
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