REI-Vietnam News

REI Spring 2017 Medical Team

by REI-Vietnam |

Image: REI Spring 2017 Medical Team
Bringing help and hope in multiple arenas

While we expanded our field of service with this team, the majority of our team members were still ENT surgeons, practitioners and educators. Dr. Brent Senior, our Team Leader (at center front below) celebrated his 20th trip to Vietnam this time around. He and his team members launched the week by giving a 2-day series of presentations at National ENT Hospital on what’s new in ENT worldwide. Through this series of lectures we help keep our Vietnamese friends and colleagues abreast of current developments in the ENT world, that they might be better equipped to bring improved health care to the Vietnamese people. Our ENT doctors in addition to Brent included Harold Pine, Yvonne Chan, Anthony Del Signore, Alex Farag, Lorien Paulson, Randy Otto, Christina Yang, Ted Schuman, Martin Trott, and Dayton Young, as well as Matt Brookes, an ENT resident.

Our ENT specialists also spent a good number of hours in consultation, discussing complicated cases with their counterparts, as well as spending time in the OR helping with the actual surgeries of some of these cases. As always, our intention is not to simply arrive, operate and depart, but to train medical personnel to do these same procedures. We seek to multiply our efforts through the intentional training and development of our Vietnamese partners. This year we were privileged to serve not only in the National ENT Hospital, but also at the Hanoi OBGYN Hospital, National OBGYN Hospital, Bach Mai, National Children’s Hospital, E Hospital, and Vietnam-Cuba Hospital. As Brent put it, every year we see incremental improvements in surgeon skills and medical practice generally. It’s a bit like watching grass grow, but over the past 20 years we have seen significant, life-changing progress.

This year our team fielded two radiologists. Dr. Bundhit Tantiwongkosi, who served with us in Hanoi a couple of years ago, commented on how at that time his presentations were given in a small conference room with space for about 20 participants. Apparently his contribution met a real need; this year his presentations were given in a large lecture hall, with about 120 participants. Dr. Pamela Otto, pictured below, also presented several lectures to large and attentive audiences.

One of our new initiatives was Medical Social Work, with a two-day workshop given at the Women’s Hospital and a shorter one-day version at National Children’s Hospital. Mrs. Dana Senior, wife of Brent, did a wonderful job of presenting the need and also preliminary how-to’s. Social Work, and particularly Medical Social Work, is a relatively new discipline in Vietnam. Intentional, institutional care for the young mother of a newborn, or of patients in general, is increasingly understood as crucial for their long-term recovery and general well-being. Jill Vernon and old friend Hien Vu were also instrumental in making this happen.

What else? We also had an IT specialist, Eric Berg, who looked over the information and network systems of several hospitals. One of his recommendations was that the hospitals install a robust firewall, to protect the institutions from hacking, malware and the like. Interestingly, just after making this recommendation at one of the hospitals, someone came into the IT office with a frozen laptop. “What is this?” was the question. Eric looked at the screen, which said something like, “Send us $2000 to unlock your computer.” Ransomware. Eric was able to rid the infected computer of the malware, and was affirmed in his evaluation of needing to strengthen the system’s defenses!

What else? We taught non-medical classes of various kinds. Moldova-born Alina Farag (at center below) taught Russian to a small group of students learning the Russian language, helping them prepare for an exam which, successfully passed, opens the door for them to study in Russia.

Alina, Tessa Schuman and Grace Senior, Brent and Dana’s daughter, taught two separate baking classes at Tea Talk, to expand their product repertoire. Tessa, Grace, sister Rebecca Senior, Dana and REI staff Randy Vernon taught English classes at National ENT Hospital to nurses and doctors alike. For the latter, Justin Koceja and Matt Brookes also joined the class.

Tessa, pictured below with her husband Ted, also gave a talk on “Life Balance” for the weekly evening “Let’s Share” program at Tea Talk. An even dozen students and young careerists came to listen, learn, and discuss.

Founding new initiatives and deepening older emphases—all part of our 2017 Spring Medical Team. We are grateful for our team members, for our gracious hosts, and of course for you, who show an interest in the work of REI!

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