Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Day 2: Patient Evaluations

Return patient from 2007 and 2010.
After a day off for the New Year holiday, we returned to Can Tho General Hospital on Wednesday morning to do the second round of patient evaluations.

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.
Most rewarding were previous patients from 2007 and 2010 missions who returned so the doctors could evaluate their progress. Once we leave Vietnam, it's very difficult to get information about the patients, their recovery, and how the surgeries have impacted their lives.

Dr. Mullens reviewing x-rays.
One boy, treated in both 2007 and 2010 (photo above), is growing up to be quite the charming young man. In 2007 he could not walk at all due to a severely deformed and shortened lower leg. Today, he walks with a brace, but you'd barely notice a limp if you didn't know. I'm not sure who had the bigger smiles when he arrived yesterday -- the boy or the doctors. 

You're reminded every day at the hospital and throughout Can Tho why we're here. So many people need help. But seeing patients return really provides evidence that we're bringing more than medical equipment and doctors -- we're making a difference in the lives of patients and their families.

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