Dr. Elaine Goehner has been leading REI’s Mixed Medical Teams (made up of nurses and physicians) for the past 14 years. This year’s trip, from October 22 through November 2 (still taking place as this article is being written) is special. (All of our REI team trips are special, but this year seems especially special.) We are seeing cooperation and partnership between several hospitals in Hanoi at an entirely new level. The very first activity of our volunteer professionals this month was meeting with the Chief Nursing staff of Bach Mai Hospital, E Hospital, National Children’s Hospital, Hanoi Medical University Hospital and Viet Duc Hospital, to finalize the plan for the conference on Wound Care for staff from these hospitals and others—12 hospitals in all!
This is a genuine breakthrough in our work. This multi-hospital cooperation among the nursing leaders reveals an openness of spirit and desire for the good of all that was less visible in the past. Hospitals can view other hospitals as competitors and if any hospital has an edge in a certain area of treatment or patient care, it can be seen as a business advantage to be guarded carefully.
The perspective of the Vietnamese nursing staff with whom REI partners is different. Their desire is to help as many people as they can as much as they can. So, with the blessing of their hospitals’ leadership, they are forging new partnerships to further advance health care in Vietnam.
One of the primary factors in this increased collaboration is the participation of several of our Vietnamese colleagues in a Nurses Leadership program sponsored by Azusa Pacific University (APU), one of REI’s close stateside partners. From 2016 to 2018, APU invited 9 nursing leaders from Vietnam to their campus for a 2-month training program. This training was not only of great value in and of itself, but it also deepened friendships between the hospitals and imparted a mutual vision of nursing.
To share just one example, one of our dear friends from Bach Mai, Nguyen Thi Huong Giang, second from left, back row, seen with other alumni of the APU program including Bach Mai's Chief Nurse Bui Minh Thu (third from right, front row), commented recently about the time invested. “We not only learned about management and leadership principles, but also more about nutrition and the ‘Logic Model.’ We used this model to help us develop research projects for our own hospital, including one on calculating the incidence of pressure ulcers. We are planning to use the results of our research to improve the quality of care at Bach Mai.” Additionally, APU has coordinated J1 Fellowships for 6 Vietnam nurses to advance their understanding and skills in wound care and IV management.
The Wound Care conference has been a highlight of these two weeks of service. Many were involved, but Dr. Shelley Burdette-Taylor and Mary Ann Dilloway, first-timers on the team, certainly did the heavy lifting. With 50-some years of wound care experience between them, they were well qualified to present our 3-day conference.
We also greatly benefitted from the contributions of Dr. Elaine in both leading the team and giving presentations in various venues, and of longtime friend Kathie Cowie, at lower left below, enjoying egg coffee with the team. Kathy invested 5 weeks training nurses in Hanoi before going on for a week of service in Nepal with another longtime volunteer, Dr. Craig Hedges. Craig served with us for a week before leaving Vietnam for Nepal, along with Dr. Sarah Coors, who invested her time teaching on Neonatology in several different hospitals before accompanying Craig and Kathy to Nepal.
Dr. Glen and Dayna Holt gave presentations on vascular access and fundamentals of the renal and cardio-vascular systems, among other topics. Dr. Jim Miser, Dr. Joseph Rosenthal, nurses Yanira Bachelor, and Gloria Diaz largely worked in the Oncology (Cancer) Department of National Children’s Hospital.
And we also benefitted from the cheerful presence and apt contribution of five nursing students from APU. From left to right below, flanked by Wound Care specialists Dr. Shelley and Mary Ann are students Esther Wang, Kristin Mountford, Kourtney Chuman, Rebekah Gronberg, and Nicole Charter. The students will stay in Vietnam for 4 weeks before going back to the USA to sit their Boards.
So, as you can tell, we had a big team with lots of moving parts! Our sincere thanks to each of our volunteers, who made such a sacrifice to be with us! Thanks too to Craig and Kris Slater, who will be assuming the responsibility for REI-Vietnam in the next few months, and joined the team for both observation and service. A big thanks too to our Hanoi office staff—Mrs. Lien, Nga, Toan, and new office assistant Hai.
And as always, thanks to you too, who through your interest and support enable us to keep moving forward in Vietnam as we seek to build people to build their nation!