Category: Monthly Newsletters

February Newsletter: Treating Infant Infection

 

 

 

 

 

 

Staff Treats Boy’s Chronic Kidney Condition

   Twelve-year-old Vee Wang was struggling to breathe when he was admitted to LFHC earlier this month. Our Lao doctors found that a large amount of fluid had collected in his chest, compromising his breathing.

   The doctors were able to drain the fluid, which immediately relieved Vee’s labored breathing. They learned that the boy had a three-year history of recurrent swelling of his legs and abdomen. Their diagnosis: a kidney condition called nephrotic syndrome, which caused him to retain fluid.

   As the underlying problem is loss of protein via the kidneys, the team also gave him infusions of a substance called 20% albumin to raise the level of protein in the blood. This helps the fluid in his legs and abdomen to cross back into the bloodstream, thus reducing the swelling. He is now recovering nicely.

   Vee’s type of nephrotic syndrome is likely complicated and chronic and he will need long-term medication and follow-up as an outpatient. We see several patients with this condition each year and so the Lao team is experienced in diagnosing and managing it. The homecare team is routinely involved in the discharge, planning and follow-up care for our nephrotic syndrome patients and the nutrition team provides important nutritional education for parents.

Most Common Diagnosis in Neonatal Unit: Neonatal Sepsis

   Neonatal sepsis, a bacterial bloodstream infection, is the most common diagnosis in newborns admitted to the Neonatal Unit. The infection is the primary diagnosis in 42% of the unit’s patients, according to the most recent data from the hospital. This is in keeping with a recent study that found that 48% of neonates admitted to provincial hospitals in Laos had sepsis or other infections.

   Antibiotics are the mainstay of treatment. Many babies also need supportive care, including intravenous fluids and/or glucose, assistance with breastfeeding and sometimes oxygen or CPAP to support breathing. Almost all babies make a full recovery and their long-term prognosis is usually excellent.

   Neonatal sepsis is the third leading cause of neonatal deaths worldwide. Thanks to your support, the Neonatal Unit is making a significant contribution to neonatal survival in Laos.

   Read more here.

LFHC Meets Challenges to Medical Education Posed by Pandemic

   As a teaching hospital, LFHC continuously provides medical training to its physicians, nurses and healthcare providers. However, the worldwide outbreak of the coronavirus did have an impact on medical education at the hospital.

The doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals, who came from other countries to volunteer as teachers and mentors at LFHC, returned to their home countries when the Lao government imposed strict travel restrictions to prevent the spread of the pandemic.

Despite their absence, medical education at the hospital continues. LFHC clinical managers and senior Lao staff are teaching a variety of clinical topics (Child Life Therapist Kongmeng Sialee, pictured here, demonstrates comfort positioning for children). And several of the ex-pat volunteers are conducting online sessions for our hospital staff on such topics as laboratory analysis, nutrition and pharmacology.

It is also noteworthy that there has been no interruption in the hospital’s Pediatric Training Program, a new curriculum-based program for staff physicians developed by Medical Education Director Dr. Rathi Guhadasan. The three-year training program, comparable to a pediatric residency, culminates in a Certificate of Pediatrics.

  Caseload Update

   January proved to be a busy month for LFHC doctors and nurses. Nearly 1,200 children were brought to the Emergency Room and another 1,535 children were treated in the Outpatient Department. Forty-four infants were admitted to the Neonatal Unit and 233 children were cared for as inpatients in the hospital during the month.

January Newsletter: Hospital Caseload Surges

 

 

 

 

 

Quick Response Saves Infant’s Life

   Immediately after baby Sonesiphone was born at a hospital in Oudomxay Province, his parents saw that something was seriously wrong. They feared that their newborn son would not survive and decided to rush him to Lao Friends Hospital for Children. It was a long and stressful journey of seven hours.

   The infant was admitted to the Emergency Room upon their arrival and the ER team immediately recognized his condition as gastroschisis. This is a condition in which the baby’s abdominal wall is imperfectly formed and intestines develop outside the body.

   Doctors prescribed treatments of IV amino acids, fluids and antibiotics while a surgeon attached a plastic silo bag to protect his organs. When the swelling in his intestines subsided six weeks later, a surgery team closed the hole in his abdomen. He has recovered and returned home with his parents.

   LFHC has treated several infants born with gastroschisis during the past five years. The first life-saving treatment of one of these infants occurred in 2016 during the 2nd anniversary celebration of the opening of the hospital — an event attended by Dr. Tim Weiner, who was a board member of Friends Without A Border at the time and who happened to be a pediatric surgeon.

   Read more here.

Caseload Update

   Caseload records show that the number of children treated at LFHC has returned to levels reported before the coronavirus pandemic forced the government to impose a national lockdown.

   The staff treated 2,573 children last month, slightly more than the 2,547 treated in December 2019. More than 3,000 children were treated in November and nearly that many in October.

   Laos continues to carefully monitor people entering the country. Authorities in every province bordering Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and China record information about every individual entering Laos and check body temperature of every individual at border crossings.

   Laos has reported very few cases of COVID-19 since Dec. 7 and has recorded a total of only 44 confirmed cases since the pandemic began.

Volunteer Returns as Acting Medical Director

   Dr. Carolyn Maclennan has returned to LFHC to serve as Acting Medical Director. A pediatrician and international health consultant, she worked as a volunteer at the hospital in 2018.

   Dr. Maclennan typically works as a pediatrician in Australia with Indigenous communities. Before coming to Laos, she was working with the World Health Organization on newborn care. She has worked in maternal, newborn and child health initiatives in many countries, especially in the Asia Pacific Region.

   Welcome back, Dr. Maclennan!

   Pediatrician Speaks at National Conference

   Dr. Dorkeo Bouaphao, the first LFHC doctor to complete the Pediatric Residency Program in Vientiane, recently delivered a lecture on paragonimus infection at an annual meeting of the Lao Pediatric Association.

Dr. Bouaphao’s presentation focused on the case of a 5-year-old afflicted with a paragonimus infection in a lung. The infection is caused by eating uncooked shellfish carrying the paragonimus parasite.

The meeting was attended by pediatricians from across Laos as well as those teaching in hospitals, universities and at the national pediatric residency program.

In addition to Dr. Bouaphao, attendees from LFHC included Drs. Somchittana Soulalay, Somphonekeo Santisouk and Annkham Thammaseng. Dr. Soulalay, who has retired from government service (although she continues to work tirelessly for LFHC), received public recognition at the conference for her contribution to child healthcare in Laos.

LFHC Welcomes New
Management Team Member

   Patricia Cliff has joined the staff at LFHC as the hospital’s Director of Development and Public Relations.

   Ms. Cliff brings skills in research and experience in marketing and communications. She has experience in writing grants and has volunteered with several charities and social enterprises in the United Kingdom.

   Her previous role was as Group Content Writer for a Destination Management Company based in Luang Prabang.

December Newsletter: Wishing You Health and Happiness

 

 

 

 

 

 

Staff Saves 2 Babies Afflicted with Beriberi

   Beriberi is quite common in northern Laos and can be life-threatening for infants. Last month, LFHC doctors saved the lives of two critically ill babies afflicted with beriberi.

   Two-month-old Arvid Xong was close to death when his parents brought him to the hospital’s Emergency Room. As soon as he arrived, the triage nurse noted that he wasn’t breathing and a doctor found that he also had no pulse. The team immediately started to resuscitate him, using CPR, adrenaline, fluids and antibiotics. They quickly determined that he was solely breastfed by his mother who was on a restrictive diet, so they administered thiamine (vitamin B1) as well.

   One hour after arrival, Arvid was stable and breathing, supported by our CPAP machine. In the ensuing days, Arvid steadily improved. He was discharged after two weeks and will be followed up in the hospital’s Development Clinic, but it is hoped that he will develop normally.

   The other case involved 2-month-old Thai Lee, who came to LFHC close to cardiac arrest. Following resuscitation protocols, the team supported his breathing, performed CPR and administered adrenaline. Doctors also quickly administered intravenous vitamin B1 after noting that Thai was exclusively breastfed, was in shock and had an enlarged liver.

   Thai recovered but a few minutes later, he arrested. He was given CPR and adrenaline, and this time he recovered and stabilized. The CPAP machine was used to support his breathing. He was given Intravenous medication to support his blood pressure and antibiotics to cover for the possibility of infection. He was discharged five days later, after completing a course of antibiotics.

   These two cases illustrate the importance and effectiveness of pediatric resuscitation training, and show how our team is able to transfer that training to their clinical practice, work together and do everything that they can to save their patients.

   Read more about treating Arvid and Thai here.

Outreach Team Helps Local Orphanage

   The hospital’s Outreach Team recently helped a local orphanage battle an outbreak of scabies among its children.

   The problem came to the attention of our staff when one of the orphans was brought to LFHC after scratching rashes to the extent that she developed wounds that became infected. Scabies is a contagious skin condition caused by microscopic mites.

   The Outreach Team conducted a lecture on scabies at the orphanage, which is about a ten-minute drive from Luang Prabang. Medications were applied to all the children and the orphanage staff immediately washed all linens, mattresses and clothing.

   The orphanage is one of the few that exist in Laos and is operated by the Lao government.

Outreach Team Gains Social Worker

   The hospital has hired a social worker to join the Outreach Team.

   Bounmy Ly (left in the photo), began his new position at the hospital by mentoring with Child Life Therapist Kongmeng Sialee (right in photo). The mentorship will provide Bounmy insights into the practice of compassionate care, which is a hallmark of the medical treatment offered at the hospital, explained Outreach Program Director Kazumi Akao. Bounmy’s position at LFHC is his first hospital job.

    Welcome Bounmy!

Former Nursing Director Returns

   Matt Evans, former Director of Nursing at LFHC, has returned to the hospital to serve once again in that position on an interim basis.

   Matt has held the position of Medical Director at Confirm Testing in London, England, for the past six months and prior to that was a Health Project Manager for Terre das Hommes in Bangladesh for six months.

   He served as LFHC’s nursing director from October 2016 to November 2018. Prior to that, he spent five months as a volunteer nurse at the hospital.

   Welcome back, Matt!

Cyclists Raise $17K for Neonatal Unit

   Team Dai, an international cycling community based in Vientiane, made a $17,000 donation to LFHC this month — money raised by team members who bicycled nearly 250 miles (400 km) to support Lao organizations.

   Twenty-seven riders made the trek from Viengkham to Thakhek, in four days. They peddled up mountains, crossed wobbly bridges and traversed picturesque rice fields.

   The donation from the team’s 2020 Challenge Ride will support the hospital’s Neonatal Unit. The money will be used to purchase six 50 ml syringe pumps and one bed warmer.

   Team Dai has raised nearly $200,000 for Lao community organizations since organizing its first fundraising ride in 2008.

   Many thanks to Team Dai!

Caseload Update

   November proved to be a busy month for LFHC’s doctors and nurses. More than 1,990 children were brought to the Outpatient Department and another 1,248 children were treated in the Emergency Room. The Development Clinic welcomed 12 new children, bringing its total caseload to 31 patients. The Neonatal Unit staff cared for 58 infants during November.

November Newsletter: A Win for LFHC!

Patient Update: Story of Thongsy

   A few years ago, a father rushed his newborn infant to Lao Friends Hospital for Children after doctors at a provincial hospital had pronounced the baby dead. What the provincial hospital doctors had failed to realize is that the infant, born 12 weeks premature to a critically ill mother, was so tiny that she had an apnea, a suspension of breathing.

   LFHC doctors and nurses saved the baby and our Outreach Team ensured that father and daughter remained a family after the death of his wife. Read more about her story here.

   Today, Kazu Thongsy (she is named after Director of Outreach Program Kazumi Akao) is a happy and active 3-year-old. Her widowed father is a schoolteacher and relies on his extended family to care for his daughter while he is away at school.

   She receives lots of love and care from her large family, especially from her grandmother and uncle. She plays happily with all the other village children and always shares the few toys she has.

Watch the video about Kazu Thongsy here.

Virtual Run for Children: A Win for LFHC!  

   Social distancing requirements sparked by the Covid-19 pandemic forced Friends Without A Border to cancel its annual New York Gala and all of its other live fundraising events in 2020. As a consequence, the organization faced a serious shortfall in its budget for Lao Friends Hospital for Children.

   Undaunted, management for the organization and the hospital came up with a bold idea to generate revenue: the International Virtual Run for Children.

   A virtual run allowed participants to practice social distancing by running, walking or cycling in their neighborhoods (or even at home on treadmills or stationary bikes) thus avoiding mass gatherings typical of marathons and other races.

   The event, which occurred October 16-18, raised more than $115,000. Friends Without A Border extends a warm thank-you to all who participated in this fundraiser and to those who supported the event with their donations.

   Read more here.

Hospital Caseload Surges

   The LFHC team is treating a growing number of patients in all departments. Doctors and nurses treated more than 2,000 children in the Outpatient Department in October — the largest monthly total this year.

   The Development Clinic staff provided care to 19 patients, including eight new children, and the Neonatal Unit cared for 68 infants last month.

Doctors Offer Advice on Patient Referrals

   LFHC doctors crossed the Mekong River recently to meet with their counterparts at Chomphet District Hospital to discuss patient referrals.

   Dr. Annkham Thammaseng and Dr. Daphet Bounpasit (standing left to right in photo) outlined the proper protocol for referring children to LFHC, including advice about the correct telephone communication that is required prior to transferring a patient.

   The referral system is important because LFHC offers the type of pediatric treatment and care that cannot be found elsewhere in northern Laos.

   LFHC plans to introduce this referral education program to other district hospitals in Luang Prabang province.

Staff Gains Insights into Care Management

   Two LFHC staff members recently completed an eight-day training session focused on a holistic system of care aimed at reducing the mortality rate of children in their first five years of life.

   Dr. Vidachan Inthanasith and nurse Khamaxai Xongyikhangsuthor (shown on left in photo) participated in the training, which was hosted by the Lao Department of Health Care and Rehabilitation with the support of UNICEF. They joined more than 30 clinicians from Lao hospitals and health centers.

   The aim of the sessions was to train the participants to be competent to teach their colleagues in Integrated Management of Newborn and Childhood Illnesses (IMNCI).

   IMNCI is a strategy of care that focuses on the wellbeing of whole child and includes preventative and curative elements.

POSITIONS AVAILABLE

The hospital is seeking a Director of Clinical ServicesNurse Educator and Director of Development/Public RelationsThese are salaried positions. Additional information and how to apply can be found here.

October Newsletter: Mone’s Recovery!

Patient Update: Mone’s Recovery!  

   When a little girl name Mone arrived at Lao Friends Hospital for Children a few years ago, she was feverish, extremely weak and unable to eat.

   Her chances for survival were slim, but our dedicated doctors and nurses designed an aggressive treatment to help the child. Her story was documented in a video, which can be seen here.

   Today, she walks to school and helps with household chores. She even ran in the 2019 Luang Prabang Half Marathon!

   Read more here.

Continuing Education: Thalassemia Treatment

   The hospital’s Thalassemia Clinic continues to grow and now cares for more than 345 children. The clinic conducts two sessions every week.

   The hospital recently held a training session on the care and treatment of thalassemia, an inherited blood disorder. The training included a discussion on how the laboratory can assist with diagnosing the disease and an examination of treatment options used at LFHC.

   Children with thalassemia have less oxygen-carrying protein (hemoglobin) and fewer red blood cells. Symptoms include paleness, weakness and slow growth. The condition can lead to anemia and have debilitating effects.

   The clinic offers specialized blood testing, an optimized blood transfusion regime, a chelation (iron removal) program and education for the parents of our patients.

Novice Monk Treated for Brain Affliction

   The family of 14-year-old Porm Vannsith, a novice Buddhist monk, rushed him to the LFHC Emergency Room after he suffered seizures and could not move or speak.

   Doctors initially thought the teenager might have experienced damage to his brain, so they ordered a CT scan. The scan showed lesions in two areas of the brain.

   The doctors surmised that the lesions could have been caused by either an abscess or neurocysticercosis (a parasitic infection caused by a pork tapeworm).

   Doctors treated the youth for both conditions. After a month of treatment, Porm recovered nicely and was discharged from the hospital.

Former Volunteers Continue to Contribute

   Ex-pat volunteers and managers have been indispensible to LFHC’s role as a teaching hospital. Often, these healthcare professionals continue to actively support the hospital after they’ve left.

   Two former members of LFHC’s medical team recently made donations to the hospital — money tied to honors they received.

   Heather Harper was named 2020 Locum Heroes Award Winner by Barton Associates for her work at LFHC. She has donated her $2,500 award fund to the hospital. Barton Associates is a healthcare-staffing agency based in Massachusetts.

   Matt Evans, former Director of Nursing at LFHC, donated his prize money to the hospital after winning the Reflections in Global Health Essay Contest sponsored by the Consortium of Universities for Global Health.

   Kudos to both and many thanks for your generosity!

Girl Recovers from Dengue Complications

   Five-year-old Amina Wang was quite feverish when her parents took her to the Nambak Dsitrict Hospital. After eight days of fever, she developed breathing difficulties and doctors there transferred her to LFHC.

   When Amina arrived at our Emergency Room, doctors immediately ordered blood tests, a chest X-ray and ultrasound imaging. The tests enabled the LFHC team to conclude that she was suffering from dengue fever with complications, including toxicity to paracetamol, a common pain killer.

   Careful management and appropriate medication were provided. After 10 days, Amina was well enough to go home.

POSITIONS AVAILABLE

The hospital is seeking a Nurse Educator and a Director of Development/Public RelationsThese are salaried positions. Additional information and how to apply can be found here.

September Newsletter: Record Month at Neonatal Ward

Neonatal Unit Sets Monthly Caseload Record  

   The Neonatal Unit admitted and cared for 98 infants during August, the largest monthly caseload of newborn babies since the unit opened in late 2016.

   The surge in neonatal cases caused the unit to be temporarily overcrowded. The staff moved some babies into isolated areas in the Emergency Room and Inpatient Department where they remained for a couple of days.

   Infants in the Neonatal Unit receive specialized care by doctors and nurses. The average length of stay for infants in the unit was 8.7 days in August.

   The hospital expanded the Neonatal Unit in late 2018 by renovating space in the adjacent Luang Prabang District Hospital. 

Hospital Welcomes 2 New Staff Members

   Two healthcare professionals recently joined the LFHC staff:

   – Dr. Thongden Keosou, who earned his medical degree in 2015 at the University of Health Sciences in Vientiane, said he is excited about joining the LFHC team and learning from new experiences.

   – Bounmy Ly, who completed a bachelor’s degree in social sciences in 2019 at National University in Vientiane, said he looks forward to applying his studies toward helping children and families at LFHC.

   A warm welcome to you both!

Caseload Approaches Pre-Pandemic Level

The number of children treated at LFHC continues to grow, edging the caseload to levels recorded prior to the national lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

A total of 4,465 children received medical care in July and August, an increase of 78% from the number of children treated in April and May during the height of the lockdown.

The Lao government eased travel restrictions in June. However, the country’s borders remain closed, though exceptions are made for essential travel.

Laos has had only 23 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the first positive test of a suspected patient in March. More than 47,500 people have been tested.

One new case was identified on Sept. 10. A man returning to Laos from the International Army Games that were held in Russia tested positive for the virus and was sent to a state quarantine center.

LFHC Saves Malnourished Baby

   Malnutrition is a condition often seen in children brought to LFHC.

   Our hospital is a leader in the efforts to battle malnutrition in northern Laos. The case of an infant named Tha Done is a recent success story.

   Tha Done was diagnosed with Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM), which is defined in terms of a weight-for-height indicator established by the World Health Organization.

   Tha Done’s condition required hospitalization for several days until he was stabilized. During his stay, the hospital’s Nutrition Team worked closely with his family.

   The treatment and care that Tha Done received proved highly effective and he was sent home with his family and a supply of baby formula and Ready-to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF).

LFHC Doctors Enter Residency Program

   Two LFHC doctors recently began training in the national Pediatric Residency Program in Vientiane.

   Dr. Khamthavong Xaiyavong (Mailor) and Dr. Lakiher Latongxai (Laki) began the three-year residency program in mid-August. Both have been staff physicians at LFHC since 2015.

   Doctors accepted into the Pediatric Residency Program undergo a highly competitive national selection process.

   Both LFHC doctors said they see the residency program as an opportunity to expand their professional development and eventually contribute to the improvement of medical care for the children in northern Laos.

   Congratulations to both!

Still Time to Get Involved!

   It isn’t too late to participate in Friends Without A Border’s first International Virtual Run for Children, which will be held during the weekend of October 16-18.

Unlike a mass gathering of marathon runners, a virtual run allows you to race in your own space at your own pace. Participants will run, walk or bicycle in their own neighborhoods, local parks and trails.

You can register for the event here. But if you cannot join the virtual run, it’s incredibly important that you support this event by making a donation here on our website.

The coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of all of our planned live fundraising events for 2020, so the virtual run will be our only live fundraiser this year.

Proceeds will benefit Lao Friends Hospital for Children, of course.

July Newsletter

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laos Coronavirus Update 

   Laos has reported no new cases of COVID-19 for 100 consecutive days. Some government restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus have been eased but borders remain closed for international visitors with a few exceptions. Those who do enter the country are placed under strict quarantine.

The LFHC team has been treating an increasing number of patients in different departments. During June, outpatient visits increased by 300 more patients than in the previous month (from 1039 in May to 1344 during June). The Emergency Room also experienced a significant increase from 603 cases in May to 747 patients in June. Additionally, the Neonatal Unit occupancy grew to 23 infants for a couple of days during last month.

Triplets Flourish at Neonatal Unit

   On May 13, doctors at the Sayaboury district hospital delivered a set of triplets. The infants were delivered by C-section at just 31 weeks gestation and each weighed a mere three pounds or less (1kg to 1.4kg).

Such pregnancies pose a significant health risk to mother and babies. Realizing that these infants would require specialized care, the district hospital quickly transferred the infants, the Khamvanh triplets, to LFHC where they were admitted into the Neonatal Unit.

The LFHC team immediately assessed the triplets and initiated the appropriate care. During their nearly 6-week admission, all three babies required oxygen, IV fluids, phototherapy and nasogastric tubes for feeding. It was also important to closely monitor each of them to ensure they were getting stronger and healthier.

The nutrition team played an outstanding role in this case as babies’ mother required a lot of breastfeeding counseling and support. As a result of the hard work and all the efforts of the neonatal team, all three slowly gained weight and were discharged weighing more than four pounds (2kg) each. Mom and dad were excited to bring home their three healthy baby girls!

LFHC Helps Boy Recover After Motorcycle Crash

   Six-year-old Joy Thapphalao was riding on a motorcycle with his family one day in April when they were involved in a traffic accident. Joy survived, but felt a great deal of pain in his right hip.

He was taken to a nearby hospital, but two weeks had passed before he was brought to LFHC. Our doctors determined that Joy has sustained a dislocation of the right hip. Surgical pins were inserted to allow his hip to heal properly and he was placed in traction.

Joy was hospitalized in traction for more than a month. But the care he received at LFHC made a huge difference in his recovery. He is walking again without pain thanks to our doctors, nurses, child life therapist and physiotherapist.

Read more here.

LFHC Doctors Gain Pediatric Training

   Three LFHC doctors report that they are gaining valuable insights and experience as participants in the Pediatric Residency Program in Vientiane, a national three-year training residency.

Dr. Vilaivone Senkeo is in her second year of the program, while Dr. Phoumy Manivong and Dr. Bounloth Sordaluck are in their first year. Thanks to the support of the Ptarmigan Charitable Foundation, LFHC has been able to encourage and help these doctors in pursuing their pediatric training.

The Pediatric Residency Program is a highly competitive national selection process. We are very proud of the performance of these doctors and look forward to seeing them continue their professional growth.

Read more about their experiences here.

Save the Date!

   We are excited to announce plans for Friends Without A Border’s First Virtual Run for the Children, which will be held during the weekend of October 16-18. So please mark your calendars!

For the past several years, the Luang Prabang Half Marathon has been an important fundraiser for our hospital. Thousands of runners have participated over the years. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of this year’s half marathon, as well as all of our live fundraising events.

As a result, we decided to launch a virtual half marathon. It’s virtual in that participants won’t hear a starter pistol and race along a crowded course. Instead, participants will run, walk or bicycle in their own neighborhoods, local parks and trails. You can race solo or as a team of family and friends.

Details about how to register and more information about the race will be forthcoming. All proceeds will benefit Lao Friends Hospital for Children.

2019 Annual Report Available

   In 2019, we provided a record number of treatments, renewed our commitment to pediatric clinical training through a new curriculum, traveled a record number of outreach miles to visit children unable to come to the hospital and developed partnerships with other NGOs to pursue public health prevention initiatives.

Read about our amazing year of growth and accomplishment in the 2019 Friends Without A Border Annual Report.

 Click here to view the report.

 

June Newsletter

Laos Coronavirus Update 

   All 19 patients reported with coronavirus in Laos have been discharged from hospitals and no new cases have been detected for more than two months. Schools in the country have resumed activities and transportation between provinces is now allowed; however, borders remained closed.

At Lao Friends Hospital for Children, we saw an increase in the number of patients from April, when the country was in full lockdown, to May, when the government began to ease restrictions. The Outpatient Department saw 626 patients in April. The caseload increased to 1,039 patients in May. The Emergency Room staff also saw a significant increase from 376 patients in April to 603 patients in May.

LFHC: The Importance of World Blood Day

   World Blood Donor Day is observed on June 14 every year to raise awareness about the global need for safe blood and to thank blood donors. Our hospital uses donated blood for surgeries and to treat children with anemia and thalassemia, an inherited blood disorder.

Donated blood is critically important to our Thalassemia Clinic, which currently cares for 325 patients. One such patient is 12-year old Vathtana who first came to LFHC in 2018 when his parents noticed that he always seemed pale and tired. Our medical staff correctly diagnosed that the boy has thalassemia and has since provided the treatment that has changed his life.

Read more here.

Gardening for Healthy Patients and Families

   The hospital’s vegetable garden project started six months ago with the goal of providing food assistance to select patients and their families.

Some families travel long distances to bring their sick or injured children to LFHC. If their children require extended hospitalization, these families remain at the hospital. Many simply cannot afford to cover food costs. Our Outreach Team assesses families to determine whether they need food assistance.

Prior to the vegetable garden project, the hospital bought vegetables at the local market. However, the hospital’s garden has grown more than 880 pounds (400 kg) of vegetables since February — produce that has provided meals for many patients, families and caretakers. Rows of morning glory, onions, corn, eggplant, chilies, cabbage, green beans and lettuce now grow in our garden.

 Read more here.

Neonatal Unit Treats Tiniest Patients Ever

   During the past few months, the LFHC team has faced an extraordinary challenge: caring for two of the smallest infants ever admitted to the Neonatal Unit.

The first, Airnoy Larnoy arrived at LFHC on Feb. 12 after spending three days at a district hospital. She weighed a mere 28 ounces (800 grams) at birth and was much smaller than our average neonatal patient. Not to be outdone, a second tiny infant, Airnoy Vahn (pictured at right), arrived on March 7, weighing only 21 ounces (600 grams).

Both infants not only survived, but grew healthy thanks to the comprehensive, intensive care that is the hallmark of our hospital.

Airnoy Larnoy was discharged weighing more than four pounds (just over 2 kg). It was an exciting day for the staff, which deftly handled a very challenging case and saved the life of another tiny patient.

By the end of May, Airnoy Vahn was discharged, weighing 3.3 pounds (1.95 kg), and secured his place as the smallest patient to be successfully discharged from the Neonatal Unit to date.

Read more here.

Celebrating Outreach Team on World Children’s Day

   Acknowledging the work of the hospital’s Outreach Team is a fitting way to observe World Children’s Day.

Recently, the team has been providing follow-up a care to a child* with a serious chronic disease who lives in a nearby village. The team recognized that the child’s family needed special guidance in what to do to improve their child’s health. The team carefully planned a day of activities for them with the help of LFHC’s physiotherapist and child life therapist.

The team arrived at the village soon after World Children’s Day, but the team decided a belated celebration was in order and initiated some games and activities with their patient’s friends in the village. The children and their families couldn’t stop smiling that day!

We are very proud of the Outreach Team and the work they do to deliver compassionate care to children in villages near and far.

*The child’s identity is not being disclosed to protect the patient’s privacy.

Staff Members Apply Green Thumbs on Arbor Day

   In Laos, Arbor Day is celebrated on June 1 and the LFHC staff seized the opportunity to participate in a team activity: planting trees and flowers around the hospital.

It is always exciting for patients and staff to see how trees planted on previous Arbor Days are growing and making the hospital setting a more beautiful environment.


   Lao Friends Hospital for Children provides free, compassionate medical care to children in northern Laos. No child is ever turned away!

   Our staff members come from diverse ethnic backgrounds. The hospital thus enjoys the advantages of having someone on hand who can communicate in the different languages of the families who bring their children to LFHC.

   More than half of the children we treat are Lao. Nearly 23% are Hmong, 19% Khmu and a little more than 1% are children of other Lao ethnic groups.

May Newsletter

 

 

 

 

 

National Lockdown Lifted: LFHC Update 

   The Lao national lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic was lifted in early May which allowed all LFHC staff members to return to work. The caseload began to increase as families were once again able to leave their homes and bring their children to LFHC.

The high level of compassionate medical care was never compromised during the lockdown. Lao doctors and nurses demonstrated outstanding leadership during the absence of the ex-pat volunteers who typically supervise and mentor them. The hospital’s medical director and medical education director provided guidance and support to the Lao staff and worked rotations to ensure that one of them would be on call throughout the day and night.

The Lao nurse shift leaders assumed the duties of confirming dosages of medicine administered to patients — a responsibility formerly handled by volunteer nurses.

The hospital’s Development Clinic and Thalassemia Clinic were again conducting weekly sessions and classrooms were reopened for medical instruction and English language training.

Read more here.

Bone Marrow Procedure Helps Save Baby’s Life

   A 15-month-old girl recently brought to LFHC exhibited symptoms that appeared to indicate that she was suffering from sepsis, a bacterial infection that overwhelms the body and can be fatal. However, the child failed to improve after being treated with antibiotics.

Her condition had troubled our doctors from the outset. Her blood cell counts were low, her liver and spleen were enlarged and she had developed a rash that rapidly spread over her face and body. Doctors quickly doubted that sepsis was the problem.

A blood triglyceride test prompted doctors to consider that the baby had a life-threatening blood disease called hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH). To confirm the diagnosis a bone marrow sample was needed.

Fortunately, Dr. Dorkeo Boupao had recently completed her pediatric residency in Vientiane, where she learned to perform blood marrow aspirations. She performed the aspiration and our laboratory staff prepared the bone marrow slides. The diagnosis was confirmed.

The child was taken to Children’s Hospital, Vientiane, which is the only facility offering HLH treatment. The diagnosis by our LFHC team expedited treatment for this little patient who continues to recover.

Read the complete story here.

Hospital Salutes Nursing Staff During Lockdown

   LFHC celebrated the International Nurses Day on May 12 and acknowledged the essential work of the entire nursing team at the hospital. Our nurses provide support and compassionate care to our patients and prove their commitment to their patients by continuing their medical training — even in challenging times.

The national lockdown in response to the pandemic challenged LFHC to find educational alternatives to classroom instruction. Khamxai Xongyikhangsuthor, Lao nurse educator at LFHC, coordinated and delivered the nursing curricula during the lockdown and provided orientation to the new members of this team.

During this month, Khamxai assisted in delivering 72 hours of clinical bedside education to nurses working on their shifts. Education focused on nursing assessments and interventions based on patient diagnosis, improved communication among team members, PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support) resuscitation and blood gas interpretation.

Outreach Team Takes Family on Life-Saving Trip

   During Lao’s national COVID-19 lockdown, transportation and movement in the country was restricted among and inside the provinces. As a measure to protect the communities we serve and our staff, the LFHC Outreach Team limited their visits to villages and to patients’ homes during April and a few days in May. Nonetheless, the team continued to provide much needed assistance to critical cases inside and outside the hospital.

In one particular case, our Outreach Team performed an extraordinary life-saving task: transporting a child to Vientiane for a critically needed surgery.

The child, 11-month-old Chik Chot, was referred by our doctors to Vientiane in March because he needed a nephrectomy, the removal of a kidney. He returned to LFHC in early April, but developed post-operative complications.

Under normal circumstances, patients travel by bus to Vientiane. However, travel restrictions had already begun, so the Outreach Team decided to use an LFHC vehicle to safely take Chik Chot and his parents to Vientiane. Chik Chot was treated by a surgeon there and brought back to Luang Prabang by the Outreach Team. He was recently discharged and is recovering nicely.

WHO Trains Staff in Coronavirus Response

   Although Lao PDR has reported only 19 confirmed cases of the coronavirus since announcing its first case on March 24, representatives of the World Health Organization recently travelled in the country to ensure that healthcare workers are prepared for a possible new outbreak.

Three LFHC nurses and two doctors participated in the training and they have been disseminating the information to the rest of the staff. The training focused on triaging, treatment, isolation ward management and staff wellbeing.

For two days, the Luang Prabang Provincial Health Department and WHO representatives conducted the special training for healthcare providers from the provincial and district hospitals, as well as for community health workers. The Lao Ministry of Health collaborated with WHO in the training sessions.

 

April Newsletter

Coronavirus Update

    Just as it has throughout the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted life at Lao Friends Hospital for Children and the finances of Friends Without A Border. Fortunately, there are currently only 19 confirmed cases in Laos, and only three in Luang Prabang. However, the borders have been closed for some weeks now, and everyone is under strict lockdown, with most non-essential businesses closed and travel in and out of villages restricted.

International volunteers — the doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals who often help with clinical supervision and guidance of Lao staff — returned to their home countries at the outset of the pandemic. In their absence, the hospital’s medical director and medical education director have been working around the clock to maintain high quality care for all of our patients and ensure that our local teams continue to learn and develop. The Lao staff have stepped up magnificently and shown great leadership and courage, taking on extra responsibilities and continuing to develop the service as well as their own skills.

The caseload in the Outpatient Department has decreased by about half to 50 children a day because families are afraid to risk exposure to the virus by leaving their homes. Many simply cannot find transportation. Those who do make it to the hospital are more likely to have advanced disease and may even be critically ill. The Neonatal Unit and the Emergency Room remain busy and patients continue to fill beds in the Inpatient Department. We anticipate that we will see many more such cases when the lockdown lifts.

The commitment to high quality, compassionate care, which is the cornerstone of our practice at LFHC, remains unchanged.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has forced us to cancel or postpone all of our fundraising events. The loss of revenue is estimated to be well over $750,000. We are short-staffed and we are financially strapped. Many families have lost their livelihoods through this pandemic (even the people selling food around the hospital are gone) and we anticipate that we will see an increase in diseases of poverty, such as malnutrition and infections, in the ensuing months, and that our role as the only free pediatric service in the country will be even more important than ever.

We know that everyone is hurting right now. You are all part of our LFHC family and we hope that you are safe and well. If there is anything that you can do to help and support us in this difficult time, whether by donating money, fundraising, and/or sharing this appeal as widely as possible, please know that every effort helps and that everyone at LFHC is so grateful.

Lockdown Doesn’t Lock Out Education at LFHC

    The national lockdown imposed by Lao PDR in response to the pandemic has affected operations at LFHC, but it hasn’t quashed its role as a teaching hospital.

Staff members are not allowed to travel to the hospital for education programs or to enter classrooms. However, Medical Education Director Dr. Rathi Guhadasan has selected topics and learning activities that are appropriate for distance-learning — via the Internet.

Doctors used the Facebook video chat function for group discussions and two doctors were even able to join from quarantine in the isolation ward (both subsequently tested negative). They had to use their own devices and those with poor Internet connections or having to use their phones to look things up and read found that difficult. However the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

Read more here.

A Little Girl’s Battle With Thalassemia

    Ana Phonesavath is a brave little girl afflicted with thalassemia, an inherited blood disorder. In fact, she has homozygous Beta 0 thalassemia, which is the most severe type.

When she was only five months old, she appeared to be very pale and was brought to Lao Friends Hospital for Children. Her family history revealed that her parents were carriers of the thalassemia trait and subsequent hemoglobin typing led to a diagnosis of thalassemia.

Since that time, Ana’s parents have brought her to LFHC’s Thalassemia Clinic every 3-4 weeks for blood transfusions. Transfusion therapy is common among patients with thalassemia. Ana’s frequent transfusions caused an iron overload in her blood, but that is being treated with a medication called deferiprone.

Ana is an excellent example of how well children with thalassemia can do with regular transfusions and follow-up care.

Read more here.

Hospital Laboratory Acquires Biochemistry Analyzer

    Lab technicians at Lao Friends Hospital for Children have upgraded the technology that helps our medical teams diagnose and treat sick and injured children — thanks to Roche, a multinational healthcare company.

Roche Diagnostics donated a refurbished biochemistry machine, the Cobas Integra 400 Plus, to the hospital and installed it in the laboratory in February. LFHC lab techs have been trained and are already using it to conduct diagnostic tests.

The analyzer is often used to evaluate liver and kidney functions, as well as monitor electrolytes.

Read more here.

Meet LFHC’s English Instructor 

   Marg Froude first heard of Lao Friends Hospital for Children in 2015 when she met and befriended a woman named Ashley Emmerton, who conducted English classes there for Lao doctors and nurses.

In 2018, the English instructor position at LFHC opened and Ashley encouraged Marg to apply. Although Marg was considering retirement, she accepted the job when it was offered to her.

Marg’s early life as a mathematics and science teacher in Australia has proven to be a fitting background for teaching medical terms in English to the Lao staff.

She says that the progress the LFHC staff makes in learning English depends on several factors: their motivation and confidence, the time they are exposed to classroom instruction, the frequency of their practice outside of the classroom, an appropriate curriculum and resources, as well as the quality of instruction.

She says she is very happy teaching English at the hospital and has made many friends there. We’re very happy that she’s a part of the LFHC team!

   Read more here.

Miss Luang Prabang Charms LFHC

   Being crowned Miss Luang Prabang is the dream of many young Lao women. So when Mila Douangmixay realized her dream, she decided to become very active while wearing the crown.

Mila has brought smiles to the faces of many children at Lao Friends Hospital for Children and has participated in fundraising events to support the hospital.

“I wanted to support LFHC because I want to help children, especially those who are sick or underprivileged,” she said recently.

Read more here.