Monday, January 29, 2018

Medical Mission: Communicating with Patients

Jesse Hsiao, RN shares his thoughts after his first mission with the IEP team. 

It’s difficult to name a most memorable moment since many were new learning opportunities, unforgettable, and inspirational. I particularly enjoyed going on rounds with the residents and translators.

Side note: Our teamwork and communication were impeccable. For those of you who watch basketball, it was like the fluidity of all five players clicking — think the current Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs offense at their best. 

During this time, I did post-operative teaching with patients and their families. What I love about this is that I was able to talk to patients and their families. After surgery, there’s still some anxiety, especially with the duration and process of recovery. In particular, all of them were concerned about managing pain, when they could walk again, and when they could return to their routine or in some cases have a dramatically new life.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Medical Mission, Day 5: Final Surgeries

Our final day at the hospital was another busy day in the operating rooms with 14 patients. Outside of the OR, we had to pack up our all supplies for the journey home and visit patients who had surgeries in the days prior.

There's always one particularly memorable case in each mission. Two years ago it was a little girl with tibial agenesis, this year it was a young man with bilateral macrodactyly.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Medical Mission, Day 4: Full Day of Surgery

Because we were in Vietnam for less time than some of our previous missions, it was important that we were very efficient in the operating rooms. Wednesday was our biggest day -- 15 patients.

Our morning was made a bit more challenging with scheduling changes between the two teams. We knew what patients we'd see, but the Vietnamese doctors needed to make changes to the order in which we'd see them. I spent the first part of my morning matching up our patient records with the hospital records to make sure everyone had the information they needed in the operating rooms.

Communication across departments is a challenge in any organization or business. Here we get to add in the challenge of being a team with another country trying to align with the local doctors, anesthesiology teams, and nursing staff. But it always works out.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Medical Mission, Day 3: Surgery Time!

Once we've identified the patients we can help and the procedures the team will do, it's time to get started on the work of changing lives. Maybe it sounds dramatic, but just giving someone the ability to walk more normally or even wear shoes for the first time is a significant life change for most.

Wing Ip and Bruce Lehnert review
x-rays before a procedure.

The Art & Science of Scheduling

Because we're here for a relatively short time, we're utilizing three operating rooms so we can do as many procedures as possible. We alternate between soft tissue and bony cases to allow time for sterilization of the powered instruments between bony procedures. At the same time, we try to do most of the youngest patients earlier in the day to minimize their discomfort from hunger and anxiety. It's quite a balancing act that Wing Ip manages, then works with Dr. Em, the head of orthopedics at Can Tho General Hospital, to confirm and arrange the local team for anesthesiology, nursing, and operating room support.

Teamwork in Patient Care

Surgery days take coordination of the full medical team as well as most of the support team. Our translators are invaluable in communicating with the medical staff and the patients, especially in delivering post-surgical care information and medication.

2018 Vietnam Mission Team

A medical mission like ours takes a complement of people to fill the various roles. It's important not only that everyone has specific skills, but that people work well within the team and with the local medical staff. We intentionally keep the group small to minimize costs so that the funds we raise go to patient care. We're together all day, nearly every day for two weeks and -- most importantly -- we're responsible for the medical care of dozens of people.

The work begins long before we ever pack our gear to travel. Henry arranges air and ground travel for the team as well as our hotel accommodations. Meanwhile, Jenni takes the lead in identifying the supplies we'll need, collecting supplies, and identifying the people in each role. (It takes months!) While we're in Vietnam, our days are busy with everyone playing a part -- whether their primary role or doing other tasks as needed to support the medical team. My main role may be managing patient information, but you'll find me hopping down the hall to gather supplies or even supporting the team in the operating room. 

Medical Team

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Medical Mission, Days 1-2: Patient Screening

Dr. Bruce Lehnert and resident Aziz Razooli
evaluate a boy for possible surgery.
The day after we arrive in Vietnam, we immediately start work by evaluating patients for the first two days.The hospital pre-screens many of the patients so that our team is evaluating the most likely surgical candidates.

The patient evaluations follow a three-step process:
  1. We start by doing a short interview with each patient to identify what they'd like our team to evaluate, some basic history on the condition and previous treatment, and basic demographic details.