Dr. Kweku Dankwa wins award, cred­its St. Anthony com­mu­nity

Lo­cal pathol­o­gist re­cip­i­ent of the So­ci­ety of Ru­ral Physi­cians of Canada’s Life­time Mem­ber­ship Award

Northern Pen - - Front page - BY STEPHEN ROBERTS stephen.roberts@north­ern­pen.ca

St. Anthony pathol­o­gist Dr. Kweku Dankwa is one of the lat­est re­cip­i­ents of the So­ci­ety of Ru­ral Physi­cians of Canada’s Life­time Mem­ber­ship Award.

And he cred­its the com­mu­nity where he’s made his home for the last 23 years as a big fac­tor in the hon­our.

The award was pre­sented to Dankwa at the SRPC’s 26th An­nual Ru­ral and Re­mote Medicine Course, at the St. John’s Con­ven­tion Cen­tre on April 13.

He was one of five re­cip­i­ents this year.

To be el­i­gi­ble, doc­tors have to be 65 years of age or older and a mem­ber of the So­ci­ety of Ru­ral Physi­cians of Canada (SRPC) for more than 10 con­sec­u­tive years.

Dankwa had just turned 65 in April.

He told the North­ern Pen he was un­aware he was re­ceiv­ing the hon­our.

“I had no clue,” he said. “They must have sent a mes­sage, but I did not see it. It was a big sur­prise to me. It’s good to be rec­og­nized.”

Since 1995, Dankwa has served as re­gional pathol­o­gist at Charles S. Cur­tis Me­mo­rial Hos­pi­tal in St. Anthony.

From 1999 to 2005, he served as the vice pres­i­dent of Med­i­cal Ser­vices with the Gren­fell Re­gional Health Au­thor­ity.

And, since 2005, he has served in a sim­i­lar ca­pac­ity as as­so­ci­ated vice pres­i­dent of Med­i­cal Ser­vices with the amal­ga­mated Labrador-Gren­fell Health Au­thor­ity.

Ac­cord­ing to Dankwa, win­ning an award such as this would not have been pos­si­ble with­out the com­mu­nity’s sup­port.

He says it’s be­cause the town of St. Anthony made him and his fam­ily feel wel­come that they have stayed for the past 23 years.

“If I didn’t feel wel­come, my fam­ily didn’t feel wel­come and we hadn’t stayed, I would not have qual­i­fied for the award,” he said. “(The award is) a credit to the com­mu­nity, the peo­ple and the so­ci­ety.”

Plea­sure of work­ing

in St. Anthony

When Dankwa moved to St. Anthony with his fam­ily in 1995, it was his first time work­ing in a ru­ral set­ting.

The Ghana na­tive had pre­vi­ously worked in his home coun­try, as well as Nige­ria, United King­dom, Ger­many and the United States.

When they were in the United States, Dankwa and his fam­ily de­cided they’d like to go some­where new.

“The per­son who I was work­ing with hap­pened to be a Cana­dian said, ‘Why not try Canada?’” Dankwa re­called. “That is how I be­gin. I ap­plied for jobs and the only rea­son why I’m in St. Anthony is they were the first peo­ple to re­spond to my ap­pli­ca­tion.”

He did not know what to ex­pect as he moved and set­tled down in ru­ral New­found­land.

“I had no clue where I was go­ing,” he said. “But I’ve loved it since then.”

And, most im­por­tantly, his fam­ily also wanted to stay.

“My wife, be­ing very happy here, and so were the chil­dren, made it a lot eas­ier,” said Dankwa. “And it was be­cause of the com­mu­nity, the type of peo­ple in the com­mu­nity, that made a big dif­fer­ence for her too.”

In­deed, one of the ad­van­tages of work­ing in a ru­ral set­ting, he has dis­cov­ered, is the sense of feel­ing like a mem­ber of a com­mu­nity.

“What makes a big dif­fer­ence is liv­ing and closely work­ing with the peo­ple that you serve,” he said. “And hav­ing a com­mu­nity that is very sup­port­ive. I find the peo­ple in St. Anthony and north­ern New­found­land and Labrador are very gen­uine and very ap­pre­cia­tive of the ser­vice you of­fer.

“You be­gin to feel a part of the com­mu­nity your­self. That makes it sat­is­fy­ing, be­ing a part of the com­mu­nity, and not just an in­di­vid­ual float­ing through.”

Dankwa also takes great plea­sure in his work at Charles S. Cur­tis Me­mo­rial Hos­pi­tal.

As a pathol­o­gist, he says he gets to see a wide range of cases.

“When it comes to the work, the range of things that I do, makes it ap­peal­ing to me,” he said.

And he says his staff is “very pleas­ant” to work with.

“You feel happy go­ing in to work,” he said. Chal­lenges in ru­ral set­ting How­ever, there are some chal­lenges to work­ing at a ru­ral hos­pi­tal.

Dankwa says it’s some­times dif­fi­cult to get cer­tain things you need.

And hav­ing to break ev­ery­thing down into num­bers makes it more dif­fi­cult to jus­tify cer­tain things you need to do.

“When they talk about num­bers, in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties you can’t re­ally use num­bers,” he said. “We have chal­lenges of dis­tances, chal­lenges of ac­cess and all those is­sues. So, when they use cer­tain points that don’t re­ally favour ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties, it be­comes a ma­jor thing.”

Fur­ther­more, he thinks the dis­tance from big­ger cen­tres makes it more dif­fi­cult to keep staff.

“I think that is part of the rea­son a lot of peo­ple ac­tu­ally move out, to be near big­ger cen­tres, to be able to fly out when they need to,” he said.

In his po­si­tion, Dankwa of­ten works alone. And he says he vir­tu­ally has no breaks and may have to come in to work on week­ends or on hol­i­days.

The only time when he’s not on call is when he’s on va­ca­tion.

But he doesn’t mind.

“I just love do­ing what I’m do­ing, so I con­tinue to do that,” he said.

Along with the com­mu­nity, and the hos­pi­tal staff, Dankwa also wished to thank LabradorGren­fell Health.

“I’m grate­ful they ap­pointed me here and I’m very grate­ful to con­tinue on with LabradorGren­fell Health,” he said.

“You be­gin to feel a part of the com­mu­nity your­self. That makes it sat­is­fy­ing, be­ing a part of the com­mu­nity, and not just an in­di­vid­ual float­ing through.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF SO­CI­ETY OF RU­RAL PHYSI­CIANS OF CANADA

St. Anthony pathol­o­gist Dr. Kweku Dankwa re­ceived the Life­time Mem­ber­ship Award from the So­ci­ety of Ru­ral Physi­cians at a cer­e­mony in St. Jones this past April.

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