Category: FWAB News

LFHC Welcomes New Chief Administrator

Lao Friends Hospital for Children is very pleased to welcome Dr. David Brewster as the facility’s new executive director.

Dr. Brewster brings a wealth of experience in pediatrics and hospital management to LFHC. He has been active in acute clinical medicine since being graduated in 1973 from the medical school at McMaster University in Canada, and has worked in several countries.

Since 2013, he has served with an Australian Aid Project in the Southeast Asia country of Timor-Leste (East Timor). The project focuses on women and children’s health. He was also responsible there for pediatric postgraduate training.

Before leaving for East Timor, Dr. Brewster was the Clinical Director of Pediatrics at Canberra Hospital in Australia.

He studied philosophy at universities in Canada (Ontario and Quebec) and France. He says that it was during those studies that he made a commitment to work in poor countries and care for underprivileged children.

He qualified as a pediatrician in 1982 through the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and holds a Master of Public Health and a Ph.D. in Medicine.

Dr. Brewster was honored by the Order of Australia in 2006 for service in medicine as a pediatrician, particularly for developments in indigenous child healthcare, medical education and the treatment of malnutrition in developing countries.

Dr. Brewster has practiced medicine in Samoa, Australia, Zimbabwe, the Solomons, Gambia, Fiji, Vanuatu and Botswana. He has overseen medical schools in Darwin, Australia, Gaboron, Botswana, and Suva, the capital of Fiji, where he wrote a history of Fiji’s medical school, according to a profile published in The Canberra Times.

Picture of Generosity

The 20th Annual Friends of Friends Photography Auction proved to be a wonderful success.

The Dec. 12 event, held at The Highline Loft in Manhattan, raised more than $160,000 (gross) to benefit Lao Hospital for Children!

More than 100 photographers donated their works, which were offered online and during a live auction.

The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Artist of the Year Award posthumously to Mr. Irving Penn. A video about his life and work ( was screened at the event, after which Mr. Peter MacGill, president of the Pace/MacGill Gallery, accepted the award on behalf of the Irving Penn Foundation.

Friends Without A Border offers a heartfelt thanks to the organizers of the event, the photographers who donated their works and all who attended and participated in the auction.

(Photos by Iyota Shigemi)


LFHC Treats Child with Malnutrition-Related Diabetes

Six-year-old Thorhua Wa was brought to LFHC last month after her parents became concerned that she wasn’t sleeping well and getting out of bed often to urinate.

Doctors determined that Thorhua was afflicted with malnutrition-related diabetes. This is not a condition that LFHC doctors see very often and is extremely complicated to manage. Malnutrition-Related diabetes is similar to Type 1 diabetes, but patients require 2-3 times more insulin to manage their disease.

In Type 1 diabetes, the child’s body does not produce insulin. The reason this occurs in not fully understood. The disease is fatal for children afflicted with Type 1 diabetes who have no access to insulin.

The LFHC nutrition team immediately began to teach Thorhua’s family about diabetes and help them understand the importance appropriate blood-glucose control. Children with diabetes suffer from dangerous short-term effects of low blood-sugar, but also must work to prevent the long-term complications which can lead to blindness, kidney failure and amputation.

The team instructed Thorhua’s parents about how to proceed after measuring her glucose, how to inject insulin safely, and how to read her symptoms — especially for signs of low blood-sugar which can cause seizure, coma or death if not quickly recognized and treated. The team devoted much time to teach the family about managing Thorhua’s diet.

Action4Diabetics, a Southeast Asia charity, generously collaborated with LFHC to support Thorhua and donated insulin and glucose measurement kits. A4D also is providing transportation fee reimbursements for the many visits it will take to manage her diabetes safely.

LFHC Nutritionist Soulee Chakeryere has worked closely with Thorhua’s parents and has helped translate information into the Hmong language for the family. Since leaving LFHC, the family has called Soulee daily to report Thorhua’s blood-sugars and to ensure that everything is staying on track as they transition her care to home life.

Laos has one of the lowest rates of diabetes in Asia, with 4 percent of the population afflicted with the disease, according to the International Diabetes Federation. However, as many as half the cases of diabetes worldwide go undiagnosed.

An estimated 1.1 million children worldwide have been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, which was formerly referred to as juvenile diabetes.

LFHC Welcomes New Nurse Educator

LFHC recently welcomed Lisa Altmann as the hospital’s new Nurse Educator.

Lisa brings a wealth of knowledge and international experience to the position, having worked as a pediatric nurse in more than 15 countries. She has worked twice as a nursing volunteer at LFHC.

Lisa received her credentials as a Registered Nurse in 2007 and since that time has worked as a pediatric nurse. She also has completed postgraduate studies in pediatric nursing, tropical nursing and public health.

After spending 3½ years at an Australian tertiary pediatric intensive care unit, she broadened her pediatric nursing experience internationally by serving missions with Médecins Sans Frontiéres (MSF) in Afghanistan and Yemen, where she was involved in educating and leading nurses in pediatric and neonatal care.

Lisa has also volunteered with Open Heart International (OHI) and Novick Cardiac Alliance (NCA), which aim to provide sustainable pediatric cardiac care and education in developing countries.

As a pediatric cardiac volunteer, she worked more than five times at Angkor Hospital for Children in Cambodia (founded by Friends Without A Border). It was there that she heard of LFHC and subsequently volunteered in Lao twice during 2016. Her experiences both at AHC and LFHC inspired her to apply for the position of LFHC Nurse Educator.

Lisa says she is excited to work with the Lao staff and support LFHC’s ongoing capacity building as well as the hospital’s mission to provide compassionate pediatric and neonatal specialty care in northern Lao.

Reducing the Risk of Airborne Infection

Thanks to a generous donation from the Women International Group (WIG) of Laos, LFHC has taken measures to reduce the risk of nosocomial (acquired in the hospital) infections.

The grant enabled the hospital to install a new ventilation system in the Inpatient Department and both isolation rooms of the Emergency Department.

The Inpatient Department is usually filled to capacity, leaving little physical space between individuals. Sufficient ventilation is critically needed, given the high rates of typical childhood respiratory infections among our patients and the ever-present risk of more severe respiratory infections such as tuberculosis and pandemic influenza.

Until now, patients and staff had to endure the hot, humid conditions in the ward. The new system allows cooler, less humid air to circulate, which makes for a safer, more comfortable environment. It also aids the healing process.

Needless to say, the system greatly improves the working conditions for the staff, who often work long shifts.

The system will renew the air six times per hour, which meets guidelines for patient care areas in hospitals. The air exchange rate in the isolation rooms of the ER is nine times per hour, which allows for the safe care of contagious patients.

Preventing Neonatal Tetanus

Airnoy Khamxaiy was born prematurely at home with no health care professional present.

His family cut his umbilical cord with bamboo and upon seeing that the infant was so small — weighing less than four pounds – took him to the local health care center. The staff at the center realized that the infant needed intensive care, so they referred the family to Lao Friends Hospital for Children.

The neonatal staff at LFHC determined that Airnoy Khamxaiy showed signs of infection, but was otherwise stable. They administered intravenous antibiotics to their tiny patient and immunized him to prevent neonatal tetanus from developing as a result of his umbilical cord being cut with bamboo.

Neonatal tetanus is particularly common in rural areas where most deliveries occur at home without adequate sterile procedures, according to the World Health Organization. Most infants who get the disease die.

The treatment Airnoy Khamxaiy received at LFHC successfully warded off neonatal tetanus. He still required support for his feeding and his young mother needed guidance from the staff to learn how to properly care for him.

The outstanding care given to Airnoy Khamxaiy has helped him gain weight and strength. He has been transferred into the new mothers and babies room, Sage’s Room, at the Neonatal Unit. In this space, he shares a bed with his mother, which allows them to bond. It also provides his mother the opportunity to independently care for him with support and indirect supervision from the neonatal nursing staff.

LFHC Welcomes New Director of Nursing

Kate Corrigan, whose nursing career includes service in the U.S., Haiti and Ecuador, recently started working at LFHC as the hospital’s Director of Nursing.

Kate focused on pediatric intensive care while working at several children’s hospitals in the U.S., including eight years at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

A native of Seattle, she earned her degree in nursing in Ohio at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. After graduation, she spent a year in Ecuador, helping the Catholic Medical Mission Board develop a small, same-day surgical center in Quito.

Kate also holds a master’s degree in global health with a focus on program design, monitoring and evaluation from The George Washington University.

In 2012, she began working for Project Medishare, an American-based NGO in Haiti, where she served as chief nursing officer at Hospital Bernard Mevs, a 45-bed trauma hospital in Port au Prince. While there, she assisted in the development of the hospital’s intensive care and trauma programs.

In 2016, Kate supported disaster relief efforts in Haiti during the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. She also acted as a consultant for a women’s health care program that targeted women’s cancers, specifically offering treatment and palliative care for women with breast and cervical cancer.

An interesting factoid about Kate: She danced competitively as an Irish step dancer until she was 20.

Hong Kong Magic

Friends Without A Border is extremely grateful to our supporters who made the Second Annual Hong Kong Gala a wonderful success.

The theme of the gala was “The Magic of Caring” and the event featured prestidigitation by a strolling magician.

The event was held on Oct. 25 at the Renaissance Hong Kong Harbour View Hotel.








Expanded: LFHC’s New Neonatal Unit

After months of renovations, a newly expanded Neonatal Unit is now providing compassionate care to LFHC’s tiniest patients.

The unit, located in the adjacent Luang Prabang Provincial Hospital, can accommodate 25 neonatal beds. When LFHC opened its neonatal ward in late 2016, there was space for only 6-8 beds.

The main room of the new unit features bed space for as many as 20 babies, as well as two resuscitation beds designed for the stabilization of new arrivals. The room also includes an area for preparing medications and milk, a space for washing babies, a desk for doctors and nurses and storage space.

An adjacent room is designated as a bonding area for mothers and their babies. There are three beds at this location for mothers to sleep with their babies after the infants are medically stable. The space is also where babies will learn to breastfeed in preparation for discharge from the hospital.

The new unit also has a room for the exclusive use of mothers – a place where they can express milk, receive counseling, or simply rest.

Three rooms in the new unit are designated for staff use as office space, a rest area and a classroom area. One of these rooms will be equipped with computers and teaching resources.

The dramatic increase in the number of newborn infants needing neonatal care prompted hospital administrators to initiate the expansion project. Exacerbating the problem was the fact that many of the newborns brought to the unit were in dire need of intensive care and would not have survived without the treatment provided at LFHC.

The provincial hospital closed its children’s ward and offered that space to LFHC for the expanded Neonatal Unit. The arrangement further enhances the cooperative relationship between the two hospitals.

Running with Royalty

The 2018 Run for the Children Luang Prabang Half Marathon attracted throngs of runners from around the world, including a member of Britain’s Royal Family.

Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrice of York donned her running shoes for the race and attended the Second Annual Luang Prabang Gala the next day.

Proceeds from the race benefit Lao Friends Hospital for Children.

Princess Beatrice (center)