REI-Vietnam News

The Power of Partnership: REI’s Nurses Team

by REI-Vietnam |

Image: The Power of Partnership: REI’s Nurses Team
Advancing Health Care through Advancing Partnership

“You’ve done everything I recommended from last year’s visit!” Lily Pang, one of our visiting nurses, exclaimed. Thu, the Head Nurse at Bach Mai Hospital in Hanoi, looked embarrassed but pleased. “Well, this is what you told us to do, so we did it!” The two beamed at each other in mutual satisfaction.

This snippet comes from a conversation between Lily (fourth from left) and Thu that took place at Bach Mai last month. REI sent a multi-faceted nurses team to partner with several hospitals in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City from October 20-30. The team consisted of Dr. Elaine Goehner, (Team Leader), Dr. James Miser, Lily, Alexa Lujan, Jeannine Acantilado, Dr. Steven Wolinsky, and Cheryl Kimball, all experienced medical professionals eager to share their expertise with their counterparts in Vietnam.

The investment that was made in our partner hospitals was as diverse as the participants. 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. This was but one of several presentations given by our professional volunteers. This trip our main emphasis was on safety, but we also shared on a number of other topics. REI is field-driven, which means that we apply our resources to the expressed needs of our hosts, as our resources allow. Other topics presented during our 2-week visit included pediatric oncology, professional nursing development, medication safety, nurse’s competencies, and so on.

Lily, Alexa and Cheryl invested a large part of their time at Phu San, one of the major OBGYN hospitals in Hanoi, where some 180-200 babies are born daily. As you can imagine, the delivery room at Phu San is a busy place! As well as giving lectures at Phu San and elsewhere, our team worked hands-on in the delivery room, demonstrating the methodology and explaining the benefits of “skin-on-skin,” where a newborn is immediately placed upon the mother in order to nurse and facilitate early bonding. They also shared better care methods for premature and sick babies. Did you know that the act of sucking is a factor in the normal and desirable folding of the brain, giving it that wrinkly, walnut shape? So preemies need to be positioned so that they are able to bring their hand or wrist within reach of their mouth, in order to suck at will. Our nurses also served in National Children’s Hospital and at Vin Mec.

Our married couple, Jeannine and Dr. Steven, were only able to be with us for a few days due to a death in the family. We are thankful for the sacrifice they made to be present at all! During their time with us in Hanoi they were able to give several presentations in our partner hospitals, as well as visit the cardiology departments at E Hospital and at Vin Mec (Dr. Steven is a cardiologist).

Our resident team also partners with our hospital friends. Zonia Go and Dr. Sylvie Chau teach Medical English twice per week for interested staff at Bach Mai. English is the lingua franca for medicine; the better our Vietnamese friends understand English, the better access they will have to medical resources online and elsewhere.

Although the majority of our work currently takes place in Hanoi, our training and input is increasingly solicited by hospitals and medical centers in Ho Chi Minh City. During our second week of service Dr. Elaine traveled south to present her lectures on patient safety to Nguyen Tri Phuong Hospital (NTP), Pham Ngoc Thach Medical University (PNTU), and Nhan Dan Gia Dinh Hospital. Elaine and Lien, our able administrator, also worked on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with PNTU, to further our partnership with them. Doors of opportunity continue to swing wide open; we are limited only by the number of professional volunteers we can field.

Are you interested? In addition to our Nurses Team, within the past couple of months we have sent a Business Team, ENT Team, Veterinarian Team, and Community Health Team to Vietnam. Next year, in addition to the above, we hope to send a Dental Team and GI Team. Does this line up with your background and training? Is there another discipline that you would like to bring to the Vietnamese people?

You are the reason we can do what we do, building people to build the nation of Vietnam!

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