The 1994 Year Group of Wesley Girls’ High School (Wey Gey Hey) performed fund raising activities to mobilize funds to complete a major renovation of the female ward of the Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital (Forster Ward) located in Cape Coast. They undertook this project as part of their efforts to shine a light on mental health by raising awareness of the scourge of this disease and to ease the burden of people living with this illness.
Representatives of the Wey Gey Hey 1994 Year Group were on the premises of the newly renovated and refurbished ward on Saturday, 23rd May, 2020 to officially hand over the facility to the Director of the Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital, Dr. Kwadwo Obeng Marfo and his management team.
The event was done under very strict conditions of social distancing with a limited number of guests and staff to observe the ban on public gatherings due to the COVID-19 health crisis.
The group used the occasion to donate other relief items to the hospital to be used for the care of the patients.
In her official address, the President of the Wey Gey Hey 1994 Year Group, Commander Naa Ayeley Akwei-Aryee, said undertaking this noble project also formed part of the group’s activities to commemorate the group’s 25th anniversary of completing high school. With the support of the Old Girls’ Association (OGA) of Wesley Girls’ High School, the 1994 Year Group set out to be the change they sought to see in society.
“We the 1994 graduating class of Wesley Girls’ High School decided to give back to the wider community that nurtured and contributed to our formative years. After brainstorming on what to do, we settled on this project. It is a decision we have not regretted and we derived so much joy from doing it.”
Commander Naa Ayeley Akwei-Aryee further stated that the 1994 Year Group considered it important that women living with mental illness be treated with dignity and provided with a clean healthy environment in which to heal.
On her part, Mrs. Cynthia Darko Acquaye, who led the fundraising efforts and presided over the execution of the project, added that the ultimate dream of the year group after observing the abject conditions at the facility was to bring it up to the standard of an ultra-modern facilty, providing a befitting therapeutic environment that would uphold the nobility of all patients.
The Director of the Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital, Dr. Kwadwo Obeng Marfo on behalf of his administrative team expressed their deepest gratitude to the Wesley Girls’ 1994 Year Group for such an extraordinary demonstration of love.
“This is the most extensive renovation that has ever been done at the Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital here in Cape Coast. We thank the Wesley Girls’ High School 1994 Year Group for this project. The level of work done has been unprecedented and the impact it is going to have on the patients here is amazing. I am only hoping that other inclined groups, individuals and organisations will also come to our aid to enable us meet other pressing needs,” Dr. Kwadwo Obeng Marfo stated in an interview.
The handing over ceremony coincides with the World Mental Health Awareness Week from May 18th to 24th which is celebrated by the Mental Health Foundation. The theme this year is ‘KINDNESS’.
The Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital was built in 1965. Forster Ward, which is a ward for women, has not been refurbished or renovated since the facility’s construction during the Presidency of the late Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
Nkrumah’s vision at the time was to create an ultra-modern health facility with a campus design of a complete township.
The hospital provides specialist psychiatric services and out-patient services to patients from all regions of the country and from neighbouring African states.
The renovation and refurbishment project focused on Forster Ward which has a floor area of approximately 1800 square metres and can accommodate up to 110 patients.
In her formal comments about the project, Mrs. Cynthia Darko Acquaye stated that “the renovation was done in two phases. The first phase was completed and handed over to the hospital’s management in January 2020 and today we are here to hand over the entire ward after the final refurbishment.”
Touching on the scope of the project during her speech, she mentioned that the completed renovations covered the entire ward including the replacement of the old asbestos roofing sheets which occupied approximately 2000m2 to aluminum long span, the renovation of all 5 wards, treatment room, in charge’s office, nurses changing area, the dining area, an outdoor summer hut, including provision of new electrical fittings, refurbishment of terrazzo floors, new ceilings, new doors and windows, new beds and beddings, repainting and much more.
The renovated work also covered the refurbishment of the seclusion room to include padded walls, and outfitting the previously defunct ECT room with a new laptop, new ceilings, new air conditioners, lights, switches, sockets, as well as repainting of its walls.
Mrs. Cynthia Darko Acquaye also indicated that the renovations included amenities for patients with disabilities. The bathrooms were made disabled accessible, the ward equipped with safety fittings, and an access ramp built at the entrance to the main Forster Ward.
The plumbing overhaul provided modern toilet facilities with recessed ceiling showers, WCs, new washbasins with stone worktop, a new fitted kitchen, three water tanks with direct connections to the bathrooms, the construction of a new BioFill tank to replace the old damaged septic tank on the left wing among other critical works at the ward.
The construction firm used for the renovations was JILAC Engineering Services.
“We have learnt through this process that one in four individuals will experience a mental health challenge in their lifetime” says Mrs. Cynthia Darko Acquaye. According to her, “kindness is an antidote to isolation and is a cornerstone of our individual and collective mental health. Through the various acts of kindness from school mates and multiple donors, the Forster Ward at the Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital can now be acknowledged as an Ultra-Modern Ward serving today’s generation and generations to follow” she concluded.