Saturday, December 27, 2014

Why I'm Going Back to Vietnam
Little boy in patient assessments.
Two years ago today I was starting one of the biggest travel adventures of my life. If I gauge it to the minute, I may have been throwing up in or near a bus somewhere between Ho Chi Minh City and Can Tho, Vietnam. I believe that it was at this point that I nicknamed myself Hurley.

Fifteen years ago today I was recovering from my first foot surgery. During one of my appointments with my podiatrist, Bruce Lehnert, I asked about photograph on his office wall. In it, he was sitting on a gurney in a hospital hallway with several smiling children with casts on their feet. The answer to that question is what led me to Vietnam with the International Extremity Project.

I started with my keyboard. I built a website, managed the blog, and started some social media activity while the medical team was preparing for or in Vietnam on medical missions.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

In Loving Memory of Bruce Lehnert, Sr.

I was going to try to write a post about my experience working with Bruce Lehnert Sr. It wouldn't be possible to say more than what you see right here in this video. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Updated: Getting Ready for Vietnam with Added Perspective

Updated: The International Extremity Project team is saddened to share with you that Bruce "Poppa Bruce" Lehnert passed away on October 30, 2014. Our thoughts are with Dr. Bruce Lehnert's family and friends of his father at this time. Namaste.

By Bruce Lehnert, DPM

As we are ramping up for the 2015 Mission to Can Tho, I have had the painful experience of finding out my Dad has stage 4 adenocarcinoma of the lung. All the typical feelings that go along with this are with me.

But as we are making our way toward our trip in March, I cannot help but think of all the times our team had with my Dad when he came with us in 2003, 2004, and 2007.

My Dad, also known as Bruce Lehnert, was our man in the trenches. In country, he would help organize our supplies, photograph our patients and procedures; and help troubleshoot our equipment. Back at home, he would help with our stationery and brochures.

He has been a member of our team through and through. Everyone who worked with him loves him. 

Dad, you're the best!

Editor's Note: Get to know "Poppa Bruce" a little better through some of his posts from previous missions.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Preparing for Can Tho: Jenni Lehnert

This will be my seventh medical mission with the International Extremity Project. As the Nursing Director, I am responsible for setting up the nursing team; organizing and running the post-operative and inpatient care; and making sure we are set to hit the ground quickly when we arrive in Can Tho.

This is an exciting trip because we are going to two hospitals, Can Tho University and Can Tho General. It will be a lot more challenging to organize two hospitals, but our team always overcomes our challenges. 

My two sons will also be coming this again this year. The new challenge is that our youngest son is now a type 1 diabetic. So, my Mom is coming along to help manage his insulin and glucose and to be sure he has a great and safe time while in country. 

If you are wondering what you can do to help with this mission, please make a donation to help support the procurement of medical goods. It will go a long way!

Friday, October 24, 2014

2015 Can Tho Mission Team

The IEP team is entirely made up of volunteers who share a passion for
making a difference in a significant way.

IEP is a true volunteer organization.
No one is paid for their efforts. We use our vacation time and
 are each responsible for covering the costs of airfare, hotel, and in-country
 travel through donations or our personal funds.

All our supplies are donated or purchased from donations.
Most of what we don't use in patient procedures, we donate to the
hospitals to help provide supplies that are harder to obtain in Vietnam.

Medical Team

Bruce Lehnert, DPM - Medical Director, Co-founder
Jeffrey Spanko, DPM - Surgeon, Co-founder
Jennifer Lehnert, RN - Nursing Director

Meir Nyska, MD - Surgeon
Jean Robert Duvalsaint - Surgical Technician
Anna Moore, DPM - Surgical Resident
Tho Nguyen, DPM - Surgical Resident
Mai Thanh Phan - Medical Assistant

Amy Levin, MA CCC-SLP - Speech Therapy

Stacy Lerner, PT, PCS - Physical Therapy

Support Team

Henry Duvalsaint - Mission Coordinator 
Flecher Fleurdujon - Documentarian
Kim Austin - Marketing and Patient Records
Madison Pribyl - Student Nurse
Melissa Lipari - Medical Student

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Team Member Bio: Dr. Jeff Spanko

Dr. Spanko is a founding member of the International Extremity Project and was a founder of Mission Peace. He first went to Vietnam as a team surgeon for Mission Peace in 1999.

Dr. Spanko has dedicated his career as a Podiatric physician to public health. He was Chief of Podiatry for thirty years at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose, California, and has been an attending physician at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System for the last two years. VA Palo Alto has a large teaching program with twelve Podiatric residents and a provides surgical and medical training to medical school externs.

Dr. Spanko's committment to international public health, teaching, and providing charity healthcare is one of the cornerstones of the International Extremity project. This will be Dr. Spanko's eighth medical mission to Can Tho, Vietnam.

Monday, October 6, 2014

IEP Featured in Namibian Textbook

The International Extremity Project team was recently contacted by the Namibia Publishing House (Pty) Ltd. for permission to use a photo from IEP's 2012 mission to Namibia in a new children's textbook. 
Namibia Publishing House
We're especially pleased to learn the reason the publishers chose the photo:
"The point is to show learners different health care workers doing their job. We like your photo because it shows men and women of different skin colours doing the same important job. That is encouraging and supports racial and gender equality and gender balance, something we work hard to achieve in our publications." ~ NPH Editor/Publisher 
NPH will include our photo in the Solid Foundations Environmental Studies Grade 1 Learner’s Book, which is written for students around the age of seven.

The photo (top left in the page at right) shows members of the University of Namibia School of Medicine team with IEP's Dr. Benny Kisch (third from left), Dr. Bruce Lehnert (second from right), and Dr. Meir Nyska (far right). IEP traveled to Windhoek from the United States and Israel in 2012 to provide medical care and training.

Namibia Publishing House produces textbooks for government schools from pre-primary to high school level. NPH's goal is to provide quality affordable educational materials for underprivileged kids mainly in rural areas of Namibia. Learn more about NPH on the NPH Edublog.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Team Member Bio: Anna Moore, DPM

Dr. Moore is a third year Podiatric Surgery resident at the Veteran Affairs Palo Alto Healthcare System. She graduated from Midwestern University's Arizona School of Podiatric Medicine in Glendale, Arizona. Upon graduating from residency in June 2015 she hopes to be even more active in the international podiatric community.

This is Moore's first trip to Vietnam with the International Extremity Project. While in Can Tho, she will assist the other surgeons by evaluating patients as well as assisting in surgeries and post-operative care.

Moore is very excited to have this opportunity to work with IEP and the people of Vietnam.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Team Member Bio: Tho Nguyen, Podiatry Resident

Tho Nguyen is in her second year of podiatry residency training at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Healthcare System. She enjoys spending her free time volunteering, including setting up a student-run podiatry clinic for the uninsured population of Sacramento (California) and a going on week-long medication mission to Honduras in 2010.

This will her first time joining the International Extremity Project team in Vietnam. She is excited to be able to visit Vietnam again, and looking forward to being able speak Vietnamese with patients and using her training to evaluate and treat those with lower-extremity conditions.

"Besides my immediate family, all of my relatives are still in Vietnam and rarely get the chance to see a doctor so I understand the value and importance the International Extremity Project provides," Tho says. "I am honored to be part of the team for 2015."

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Team Member Bio: Henry Duvalsaint

Henry Duvalsaint joined the International Extremity Project team in 2012 as a coordinator. The passing of founder Steve Warren in 2007 created a vacuum for the group, known at that time as Mission Peace. It took a couple of years for the group to reorganize as the International Extremity Project. 

His podiatrist, Dr. Bruce Lehnert, invited Henry to join IEP based on his many contacts in Vietnam and his knowledge of Asia from many years of business travel there.

From Henry, "I am very happy to be part of such devoted group bringing new life to so many people in Vietnam."

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Team Member Bio: Nicole Copeland, MSN

Nicole Copeland works at the San Francisco Department of Public Health in the Adult Immunization & Travel Clinic and specializes in travel medicine. She graduated from San Francisco State University with her Master in Nursing and a specialization in Public Health in 2001. She previously worked as a Nurse Case Manager for five years with the homeless HIV population in San Francisco.

Nicole is very excited and honored to be a part of the International Extremity Project’s 2015 mission to Vietnam. This will be Nicole's first trip with IEP.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Team Member Bio: Wing Ip, DPM

This will be Dr. Wing Ip’s third trip with the International Extremity Project.

Dr. Ip is Director of Podiatry at Community Medical Center, providing care and services for the California's Central Valley community and migrant workers. She graduated from residency at the Veteran Affairs Palo Alto Healthcare System and completed her podiatric studies at the California School of Podiatric Medicine in Oakland, California.

While in Namibia, she will be seeing patients and evaluating them for surgery, scheduling patient care, performing surgeries, and following up with post-surgical patients.

See more from Wing in the archives.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

2015 Mission Prep: Quick Planning Update

I am so excited about this year's trip. We'll be working at two hospitals: Can Tho General and Can Tho University. This means there will be a lot more set up and work on the ground this time.

I think we have a great team and some great new members. The hospitals are already lining up patients!

- Dr. Bruce Lehnert

Thursday, September 11, 2014

IEP Returning to Vietnam in 2015

It's official, the International Extremity Project is returning to Vietnam in March 2015!

We've set our dates. A lot of work goes into just getting ready to leave San Francisco International Airport for the long journey to south Vietnam. Once there, we'll be in Can Tho for two weeks and perform about 40 surgeries during that time. In the 2013 mission trip, we evaluated about 80 patients and performed surgical procedures on 40 of those patients, with multiple procedures on some patients.

Now begins the fund-raising, supply gathering, donation wrangling, and travel-arrangement making.

As we prepare, the medical pros will gather needed supplies, from big to small. Our wish list of supplies ranges from specialized surgical equipment to items as seemingly simple as sutures, blades, and casting materials. We provide all supplies related to the patient care, including medications, crutches, and splints.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Dr. Jeff Spanko, A Personal Story

"I have a skill that at this point in my life, I can use to benefit others. Even though I do that at home, year in and year out professionally taking it global, taking it to another country to help people who have no opportunity to get the level of care that we get here in America is something that gives me really great pleasure." 

Dr. Jeff Spanko tells a personal story of the medical mission to Vietnam with the International Extremity Project.