A surgeon may perform a brilliant technical procedure, but if the overall game plan in pre- and post-op care is inadequate, the outcome will fall short of the intended and desired results. Similarly, if the guiding principle of the medical institution is making money, or even patient satisfaction, corners might well be cut and patient outcomes compromised. REI’s Nurses/Mixed Medical team, which served in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City from October 19-29, sought to shine the spotlight squarely on this crucial issue. Dr. Elaine Goehner (team leader), Dr. James Miser, RN Kathie Cowie and RN Brooke Hopson worked together to teach and train in this area of patient safety. Brooke’s husband, educator Gabe Haydu, also served with us in Hanoi. And long-time friend and colleague Dr. Craig Hedges and his wife Rebecca also served, in the ENT Hospital and elsewhere.
In some ways this trip revisited the emphasis of the 2014 team. Dr. Elaine and Dr. James, who had worked together at City of Hope National Medical Center in California, teamed up in Hanoi to present a conference on Patient Safety to the staff of Bach Mai and several other hospitals. Modeling closer partnership and teamwork between doctors and nurses through their team presentation was one of their goals, seeking to strengthen closer communication and teamwork between doctors and nurses. In addition to improving patient safety through nurturing a closer partnership between doctors and nurses, there was also an emphasis on establishing a systems analysis approach to patient safety, as well as establishing a “no-blame” culture, where errors can be reported and corrected without fear of blame or retaliation.
REI first-time volunteer Brooke Hopson, RN, also participated in giving the presentations. Her husband Gabe made his own contribution through teaching several of the English classes the nurses voluntarily attend. (English remains the language of choice for medical professionals, and our dear Vietnamese friends are committed to mastering it!) Brooke and Gabe flew up from Singapore where they currently live and work.
Kathie Cowie, one of our long-time volunteers and one-time resident of Vietnam, spent much of her time doing rounds with colleagues in our partner hospitals, helping nursing staff better understand the “whys” behind the “whats” of patient care. Sometimes training can be reduced to a list of bullet points, which is a minimalist approach. Kathie spent many hours at bedside, explaining the theory behind the practice. The many “Aha!” moments that followed should result in better care, and better outcomes. Many of Kathie’s evenings were spent with friends she has made over the years, deepening the relationships upon which REI places so much value.
We are grateful for the partnership we enjoy with Bach Mai Hospital, ENT Hospital, the National Hospital of Pediatrics, Viet Duc Hospital, the National Institute of Mental Health, Hanoi Medical University, and Pham Ngoc Thach Medical University in HCMC. Their trust in REI enables us to further build the medical capacity of Vietnam. Together we are building people to build a nation!