On April 12 of 2020, I started the Heroes of COVID-19 publication in partnership with TheAfricanDream.net website. The first publication on that website by Oral Ofori featured Dr. Michael McCarthy of Sinel Specialist Hospital. This second publication will be on Peter Yeboah who is a respiratory therapist.
As the world faces this dark period with the mysterious COVID-19 illness ravaging the human race, filling lungs up with lymphocyte rich secretions and asphyxiating our fellow humans to death, leaving many helpless, people like Peter Yeboah shine a golden ray of light.
Peter Yeboah, by the way, is now based in the Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates (UAE). He preferred we did not feature him based on his abundant modesty. He felt he was doing what anyone else would do given the circumstances, but I felt we needed to still capture his efforts to serve as an example — because deserves it.
Some Philanthropic work of Peter’s
Let’s talk more about why Peter is our COVID-19 Hero for today, I will later shed more light on how I came to befriend and reconnect with him. In November 2019 Peter went to Ghana and paid a visit to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit commissioned by the First Lady of Ghana Her Excellency Rebecca Akufo-Addo.
He went to work with the respiratory therapists to help update their knowledge on the proper use of mechanical ventilators, the importance of protocols and the need for documentation on a flowsheet in the care of mechanically ventilated patients.
Mind you, Peter also has over 22 years of experience from working at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Maryland, Inc, as well as University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in the United States (US), Johns Hopkins Bayview Center, Franklin Square Hospital Center, and several other hospitals.
While in Ghana he donated sample flowsheets and Oxygen analyzers and demonstrated to those he engaged with on how to connect other devices and consumables to the ventilators. All these were done for free, including the demonstration of the use of noninvasive ventilation (NIV) to the folks at he was training. He made time to observe them practice what new skills he had taught them.
Peter has been making such trips to Ghana since the past decade and used his trip to do his usual outreach like the one on the following month of December 17 when he went on to Korlebu Teaching Hospital in Ghana to help train the Respiratory Therapists there. For some amazing reason, Peter was way ahead of the COVID-19 outbreak as at that time the disease hadn’t hit Ghana yet. He visited Dr. Yaw Ofori- Adjei and his medical intensive care unit team also.
Still in Ghana that year, he visited Ridge Hospital located in Accra, the country’s capital, to meet with Dr. Armah and traveled on to 37 Military Hospital in Accra to meet with Dr. Ayibor all in the hopes of sharing his knowledge as he has done on previous visits. He did all this on his own volition and love for his country Ghana, which is why I feel Peter is a hero on so many levels.
Freely sharing his wealth of experience with his motherland months before the value of his actions got fully appreciated is simply amazing. Today the expertise he imparted has come in handy in saving lives and preparing for the battle against COVID-19 in Ghana. He loves travel-work, for this reason, he has also worked in New York and other places in the US.
Crossing paths with Peter in the US
I met Peter in 1999 when I started my residency at Good Samaritan Hospital. The year prior, in 1998, he graduated from New York University with an associates degree in respiratory therapy. He worked at Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore Maryland for 7yrs. He was unassuming and had a ready smile and lots of wry jokes. He was easy to get along with, which came in handy for I had just arrived in the US. It was nice to run into someone like him now and then in the hallways or while I made rounds.
His recent travel to Ghana in pursuit of the actions mentioned in the above paragraphs is what led me to discover that he had just completed his education as a respiratory therapist at New York University. I will share my home-cooked meals, which my husband had lovingly prepared and dropped off for me, with him or just chat about life in our downtime in the library as I prepared for my board exams.
It was nice to see a face reminiscent of Ghana and freely express myself in my local language while I figured out how to navigate the American Medical System. This was the basis on which we become good friends over the next several years, lost touch, and then reunited albeit prior to COVID-19.
A snap shot of Peter’s background in the industry
— Over 22 years of experience
— Board registered respiratory therapist in the US
— 1998 Associates Degree from New York University in Respiratory Therapy.
— University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) double bachelors degree in health administration and policy and another bachelors degree in health policy and information systems management double degree in 2004 from UMBC.
— Joined forces with the Ghana Physicians and Surgeons Foundation of North America (GPSF) spearheaded by Dr. Theodora Fynn and hosted by Dr. Bertha Ayi. They host online Zoom meetings and teleconferencing with various Healthcare facilities in Ghana including Korlebu, Ridge hospital, Tamale, Ho, Nkwanta etc on matters around respiratory therapy.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic Peter has channeled this long held desire into reviewing the mechanical ventilators and respiratory equipment at the various intensive care units in Ghana. So far I have been on three zoom conference with him, together with other doctors where he has been the main resource using his 22 plus years of experience to trouble shoot and update these vital pieces of equipment. He wants Ghana to become COVID-19 ready. He works at Cleveland clinic hospital at Abu Dhabi in the UAE.
Thank you, Peter, for all you do, and thanks to you the reader as well for making time to read and share this piece. Draw our attention to other COVID-19 heroes near you by emailing Serwabb@gmail.com or texting us on WhatsApp with +1712 898 8716 to share their story.
Written by Dr. Bertha Serwa Ayi, an unapologetically passionate Shero bent on stamping out COVID-19