REI began investing in dental training in Vietnam in 2001 through the efforts of Paula Todd Sailer (RDH), and others, and since that time has sought to develop the level of dental care in the areas of general dentistry, orthodontics, and orthognathic (jaw) treatment, as volunteers have been available. Dr. Jim Sandlin, this year’s Team Leader, has been traveling to Vietnam since 2012. The above photo shows, from left to right, Mr. Thanh (Hanoi REI admin), Dr. Craig Hedges (ENT), Dr. Darlys Hofer (Urology), Dr. Glen McIntosh (Orthognathic Surgery), Shanette McIntosh (Dental Assistant), Paula Sandlin (English Education), Dr. Jim Sandlin (Oral Realignment), Jill Vernon (REI staff), Randy Vernon (REI staff), Ms. Nga (Hanoi REI admin), and Mrs. Lien (Hanoi REI Administrative Head).
As Dr. Jim puts it, “From the dental point of view, the trip was a rousing success. We strengthened the ties we have with National Hospital of Odonto-Stomatology in Hanoi (NHOS-HN) and saw that the splint therapy program there is performing well. Dr. Nga, whom we helped get started in treating facial pain and TMJ disease through this program two years ago, is now coaching her department colleagues. There are now four doctors successfully treating patients.
“In Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), we launched a successful partnership with NHOS-HCMC, and identified the nearby HCMC Dental School Faculty as a future location for service. REI has had a long-standing relationship with the HCMC Medical School Hospital/ENT program, and their dental faculty is eager to receive what we can offer.
“Glen McIntosh provided incredible support for the orthognathic programs in both cities. Shanette McIntosh helped NHOS-HCMC launch a CBCT airway analysis protocol, teaching their radiology department how to use adequate viewing software. I provided a supportive role, mainly instructing on articulator use and case transfer. I was also able to help problem solve on a few of their more difficult cases.
“My wife, Paula, and other team members launched English Clubs at both sites. This helped us reach and relate to hospital staff at a new level, and enlarged the impact the team made at each site. Both nursing staff and doctors participated. One anecdote Paula shared was that a nurse at one hospital told her that she was going on a weeklong mission trip to India. The nurse's comment that ‘There are so many poor people there’ put everything in perspective. We come to partner with our Vietnamese colleagues, and they, in turn, partner with others. Love that multi-generational reproduction!
“Combined, we donated a total of 8 diagnostic articulators to the two NHOS hospitals. These were sorely needed, as one oral surgery department did not have the instruments necessary for planning jaw surgery. The other two departments had only broken instruments to use, and were left basically with nothing that worked. Now, everyone can diagnose, plan their cases, and create the appliances needed for predictable therapy. One department head was brought to tears when we presented her with the instruments.
“Finally, we're in the process of hosting our first REI Dental Fellow. We’re looking forward to spending extended time with him here in the USA, both professionally and personally!”
Thanks, Dr. Jim, and thanks to all the team, building people to build Vietnam!