Tuesday, May 28, 2013
What happens during an IEP medical mission? What does it take to organize and run one? The IEP medical team meets with new and returning patients, talks about what happens during a trip, and what it takes to support a medical mission.
Saturday, February 23, 2013
Paul Albright and his daughter Michelle joined International Extremity Project's 2013 mission to Can Tho, Vietnam, discovering first-hand what the IEP team does on a medical mission. As a generous donor to IEP, Albright is a big part of enabling the team to make missions like this happen.
CLICK HERE TO DONATE ONLINE
Be sure to select IEP as the recipient program.
Friday, February 15, 2013
Michelle didn't just join the team for the 2013 mission, she started a club called "A Step in the Right Direction," to support the International Extremity Project's work. Read more in the article from her high school newspaper.
(A newspaper much improved since I was a student at the same school in a slightly different decade.)
Sunday, February 10, 2013
Post by Wing Ip, DPM"She was truly a testament to the notion that strength does not always equate with power, but also can come in a form that seeks to persevere and endure the many pains and sorrows of life."
|Wing Ip, in the operating room. |
performing a TAL procedure.
It felt like the operating room was a home away from home. Aside from wearing hospital-issue flip-flops, I felt that I was in my element. It’s can be intimidating to work in an unfamiliar environment, but the way our team worked together with the Vietnamese team definitely helped. Soon I felt as though I was working in an operating room back home.
It was gratifying to see that we were able to help our patients, but I was saddened that we could not provide them with the same amount of comfort and assistance that patients in the States receive after surgery. However, it’s heartening that most of the patients have a wide range of social support.
Monday, February 4, 2013
After the last surgery, the hospital staff and IEP team gathered at a ceremony to review the accomplishments during our stay and recognize the efforts of both the hospital staff and IEP team members. Several people spoke to share their perspective on IEP's work at the hospital.
|From left to right: Can Tho General Hospital's Dr. Tam with|
IEP's Drs. Bruche Lehnert, Meir Nyska, and Jeffrey Spanko.
Dr. Em, Orthopedic Department Director, Can Tho General Hospital
Thank you for sharing your spirit and skill with us. My colleagues and I appreciate your support and cooperation. I hope that our cooperation will continue and become stronger. My one wish to everyone is that may all of you have in the new year have good health, good fortune, and peace.Dr. Bruce Lehnert, Medical Director, International Extremity Project
Thursday, January 31, 2013
|Drs. Meir Nyska and Sahra Sellers|
I knew that we would see foot and leg deformities that I'd only seen in textbooks, but I didn't expect that the patients would be so easy to work with. To be honest, we saw deformities that I don't think have ever been described in writing. (And I won't even attempt to try).
It was amazing to see the creativity that patients have used to function despite their deformities: wearing shoes backward, using sticks as crutches, and family members literally carrying each other. I expected that every surgery to correct the severe deformities would be long, complicated, and difficult. I was absolutely amazed at the number of people we were able to help with relatively simple procedures.
When we first arrived at Can Tho General Hospital, it seemed like there were people absolutely everywhere. I was excited and anxious to get started with the evaluations while we waited for the full team to arrive. The patient evaluations on our first two days are best described as organized chaos, especially on the first day as everyone figured out their roles.
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
|Smiling faces at the ceramic temple, Mekong Delta|
I decided to go on this trip with the International Extremity Project for the chance to volunteer but also to experience an operating room setting. I really enjoy helping people and I figured that this trip would be a great way to help people that really needed it. Along the way, I could use the experience as a little "diagnostic test" for my ability to be a doctor. (The operating room may not be where I'm destined to work :) )
I expected that going to Vietnam would be a lot scarier than it was. When I thought of Vietnam, the communist country from my textbooks came to mind, but when I got there, everyone was much nicer and more hospitable than I expected.
When we first arrived at Can Tho General Hospital, I was surprised to see how many people were there, and how accommodating the nursing staff was. It was interesting to see how nearly everything was outside -- waiting areas, pharmacy, open hallways -- considering how much rain the area gets during the stormy season.
Thursday, January 24, 2013
|Bruce Lehnert, DPM|
Our medical mission has become much larger over time. It started in 1998 with just two residents and myself. This year, our mission team grew to 34 people with more doctors, nurses, physical therapist, documentary filmmaker, donors, writer, and children of team members.
This year we were a well-oiled operation and it worked perfectly. The biggest challenge is always the language barrier. No matter how many times we do these trips, we can never learn Vietnamese.
Saturday, January 19, 2013
Michelle is one of the students who traveled with us and participated in the work at the hospital. She kept her own blog during the trip and took great pictures. Here are excerpts and links to her posts.
Monday, January 14, 2013
Julia is one of the high-school students traveling with us and participating in the work at the hospital. She's doing a great job of journaling her experience. Here's a slightly edited version of her account of the first day of surgery.Our team's nursing director asked me if I wanted to help in the operating rooms. In short order I learned a long list of things, including how to:
- Help the surgeons tie up their surgical gowns
- Track surgery start/end times and patient weight on the patient record
- pen sterile packages and put the contents onto a sterilized table without contaminating the area
- Angle the overhead lights for the surgeons
Sunday, January 13, 2013
His legs were short and his toes pointed down and inward, forcing him to walk on the outside edges of his feet. His feet and ankles could not flex to 90 degrees. When we gathered his information, he said he could walk independently for a short distance, but had little stability and it was very painful.
One of our translators related to us that he's a very accomplished competitive swimmer. If flying down streets and hallways on crutches was a competitive sport, he'd be a medalist.
Saturday, January 5, 2013
Julia is one of the high-school students traveling with us and participating in the work at the hospital. She's doing a great job of journaling her experience. Here's a slightly edited version of her chronicles of the patient screenings. (Ed. Note: Article has not been fact checked.)
Cerebral Palsy. Congenital defects. Post-polio syndrome. I’ve learned over the past two days that these are the most common cases that the International Extremity Project team sees, indeed these are among most common lower-extremity problems in the third world. Yet the US hasn’t seen a polio case in nearly 30 years thanks to the development of the Salk vaccine.
The hospital we work with -- Can Tho General Hospital -- is beginning to do a better job of pre-screening the patients that are obviously unsuitable for surgery before our team’s screening process begins. Still, we screened 42 patients today, and just 16 are scheduled for surgery. That statistic isn’t quite as bad as it sounds. A few of the 42 were follow-up patients from two years ago, stopping in to express their appreciation while also confirming they don't need additional treatment. Other new patients required definite treatment such as bracing and/or physical therapy, but not surgery.
Diane's first morning of patient evaluations started off with a very clear reminder of why we are here.At the 2010 IEP trip, one patient was especially memorable. He was the first patient we screened on the first morning, and the last patient Jane (Giang) Nguyen, my co-resident partner-in-crime, and I saw on post-op rounds the last morning at the hospital.
Completely as a surprise to me, he was the first patient I recognized the first day of screening on this trip. His face lit up when I smiled at him, and he immediately stood up.
HE STOOD UP!
Friday, January 4, 2013
|First Patient of the Day|
That's the good thing about not setting expectations -- it's easy to go with the flow.
Going with the flow in this case equated to participating in the operating room by helping to gather supplies prior to the procedure, taking photos, and calming the patient. The patients are not completely anesthetized, but have a spinal block and some amount of medication to calm them.
|Our home base for screening days.|
The patients are evaluated by the surgeons (Lehnert, Spanko, Nyska, Mullens, Koshumine, Sellers, and Ip) and team physical therapist (Stacy Lerner). To be added to the surgical list means that the surgeons and PT all believe that the surgery will improve the person's quality of life and will not negatively affect any other physical functionality. Many of the surgical patients will be referred for bracing post-operatively.
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
The surgeons, residents, nurses, and our surgical technician headed out to Can Tho General Hospital to start the first day of surgery. There were originally eight patients scheduled, but that may shift to seven. A bit more detail on the surgeries follows:
Operating Room #1
Operating Room #1
- 8-year-old girl: tendon transfer
- 6-year-old-girl: bilateral TAL (Achilles tendon lengthening)
- 30-year-old woman: TAL, lateral closing wedge
- 7-year-old boy: bilateral TAL, posterior capsule release
|Return patient from 2007 and 2010.|
The scene felt a bit more chaotic. The hospital was much busier and crowded because the clinics were open to see patients and people were generally curious about what we were doing. We had fewer exam rooms compared to Monday, so our own evaluation space was more condensed. The exam rooms are small and the waiting rooms are essentially the outdoor hallways on the interior and exterior perimeter of the building.
The doctors evaluated 45 patients, about a third of whom were identified for surgery, bringing our totals to 87 screened and 34 surgical candidates. Like Monday, Wednesday brought a range of patients in terms of age, physical complaint (again, several polio and clubfoot cases), and our ability to help them.