Category: Monthly Newsletters

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.

March Newsletter

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coronavirus Impacts LFHC Staffing, Fundraising Events

 Breaking news: Laos has just confirmed its first two cases of Covid-19. Like hospitals everywhere, LFHC is worried about running out of supplies.

All of the hospital’s international volunteers — doctors, nurses and other health-care providers — have been called back to their home countries. Hospital management and the Lao staff are working longer hours and extra shifts to ensure that children continue to receive compassionate, quality medical care. The staffing crunch also affects the protected teaching time for Lao doctors participating in the new LFHC Pediatric Training Program. We need to hire extra staff.

The pandemic has forced Friends Without A Border to postpone all annual fundraising events. (See the story below about the planned New York City event.) Unlike many nonprofits, we are very event-heavy in our fundraising plan. We could use your help! Please click here to make a donation. Your support is greatly appreciated!

New York Gala Rescheduled

   The coronavirus pandemic forced us to postpone the upcoming 18th Annual New York Gala, but we have rescheduled this important fundraising event for Thursday, September 17.

Friends who wish to attend may purchase tickets and tables in advance here.

“Accomplishing Our Mission” is the theme of this year’s gala. The global law firm Dentons and attorney Walter Van Dorn, a Dentons partner and pro bono lawyer for Friends Without A Border, will receive our Excellence in Corporate Leadership Award at the event. Longtime supporters Richard and Ellen Cook will be honored with the Friend of Friends Award.

Broadway star Jarrod Spector will be the featured entertainer.

New Medical Records System Initiated

   Hospital staff members have begun using a new medical record-keeping system that is designed to improve clinical decision-making.

Twenty-six doctors and 55 nurses have been trained to use the system, the Bahmni EMR system. The new system integrates data from clinical, radiological, pharmacy and laboratory sources and presents it in a logical and intuitive way. It enables quicker improved clinical decision-making, a reduction in medical errors, more efficient use of doctor and nurse time, and contributes significantly to better patient outcomes. Our system serves as a model for hospitals and clinics throughout the Lao PDR.

Read more here.

6-Year-Old Girl Treated for Serious Burns

   One day in mid-December, 6-year-old Xiasee strayed too close to a cooking fire at her home in Bokeo Province and the flames ignited her skirt. The little girl suffered burns to her legs and lower abdomen.

Her parents rushed their daughter to Bokeo Province Hospital, where she was treated for the burns, but soon decided to make the 10- to 12-hour journey to bring her to Lao Friends Hospital for Children.

Our doctors and nurses recognized that Xiasee needed to be hospitalized — she had suffered second- and third-degree burns to roughly 12% of her body. They treated her burns and then sent her to a hospital in Vientiane for skin-graft surgery. She has returned to LFHC for further treatment and is recovering nicely.

Read more here.

Nurses Train in Treatment for Pediatric Emergencies

   Nurses at LFHC recently participated in a training course designed to help them recognize unstable patients and be able to intervene appropriately.

The training was conducted by volunteer Cindy Brownlee, a registered nurse from Seattle and a certified instructor for the American Heart Association. She specializes in teaching courses in Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) and Pediatric Emergency Assessment Recognition and Stabilization (PEARS).

Brownlee worked with LFHC nurses Khamxai Xongyikhangsuthor and Maly Chittapai to combine and modify the courses. The training was modified because PALS uses medical equipment that isn’t available at LFHC.

The course employs many simulations typically used for training nurses in the United States, but less common in Laos. The simulations trained nurses to work as a team to treat children facing different types of medical crises. Each nurse was trained to perform such roles as team leader, medication nurse and recorder.

Nutritionist Attends Clinical Nutrition Course 

   Hospital Nutritionist Soulee Chakeryere is attending the Clinical Nutrition and Dietetic Course at the Lao Clinical Nutrition Education & Research Partnership (LNCP) in Vientiane.

The intensive two-month course covers the fundamentals of nutrition as well as malnutrition, counseling skills, pediatric nutrition and possibly other topics that the students deem important. The curriculum is student-centric, so the instructors adapt to the course to what the students see in their hospitals and clinics and what they have the most need to learn.

The hands-on component of the course will primarily take place at National Children’s Hospital in Vientiane.

Works of HeART Entrees Displayed

   The works of more than 200 children competing in the Works of HeArt contest were recently exhibited in the Friends Gallery in Luang Prabang. The theme of the competition is “What I love about Laos” and the winning design will appear on T-shirts and postcards that will be available for sale at the Friends Gallery.

Children from five to 12 years old were invited to submit designs. The competition is sponsored by LFHC and Tiger Trail Travel, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary. A committee of judges will select the best design.

Proceeds from the sale of items at Friends Gallery benefit LFHC.

Israeli Tourists Respond to Call for Blood Donors

   A stable blood supply is critical to any hospital’s ability to provide quality care to patients. LFHC is always in need of blood donations to take care of our growing patient population, particularly for children with thalassemia, an inherited blood disorder.

During January and February, Dr. Gillat Raisch, a volunteer pediatrician from Israel, saw first-hand LFHC’s need for blood. He subsequently reached out to the local Israeli tourist community and explained the need for blood donations.

The community responded and as a result, Israeli tourists have donated blood every week. The number of their blood donations now exceeds 100 per month! Their support has helped build a stable supply of blood for LFHC as well as all of Luang Prabang province.

Dr. Raisch continues to encourage blood donations from afar. LFHC is incredibly grateful to Dr. Raisch and the Israeli tourist community.

5th Anniversary Edition

LFHC Celebrates 5th Anniversary

   Representatives of the Lao PDR government joined Friends Without A Border board members and supporters on Jan. 23 to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the opening of Lao Friends Hospital for Children.

Read more here.

Click here to view a video that was screened at the celebration.

Hospital Milestone Achieved!

   As 2019 came to an end, Lao Friends Hospital for Children reached a milestone: The hospital has now provided more than 100,000 medical treatments to children in northern Laos since opening its doors in 2015.

Nearly one-third of all those treatments happened in 2019, making it the busiest year in the history of the hospital.

(Please note that a child might receive several treatments over a year or more.)

LFHC doctors and nurses handled 32,973 medical cases last year, according to year-end data. That’s a 24% increase from 2018.

The largest increase in caseload occurred in the Emergency Room, where doctors and nurses handled 11,801 medical emergencies, an increase of nearly 77% from 2018.

Doctors Pediatric Training Program Underway

   From its inception, LFHC has had a tradition of providing continuous education for its medical staff, both in classrooms and during every clinical shift, ably assisted by numerous foreign doctors.

This approach has now been consolidated into a structured curriculum-based training program that is designed to give all of our doctors a good foundational knowledge in pediatrics, enabling them to practice evidence-based, child-centered, pediatric care safely, ethically and competently. It also encourages them to continue their professional development through self-directed learning.

The first stage of this training, a one-year LFHC Child Health Foundation course, is underway and will be followed by a three-year Certificate of Pediatrics program. These are internal courses; LFHC will continue to utilize the country’s national pediatric residency program for the hospital’s highest performing doctors.

This new training program is being financed by a generous grant from Moving Child, a foundation based in Munich, Germany.

Read more here.

Doctors Save Toddler Injured in Motorbike Crash

   An unconscious toddler suffering seizures was rushed to the LFHC Emergency Room on Dec. 10. The ER staff didn’t know the name or age of the child, but instantly noted his cuts, bruises and fractured arm. They quickly stabilized him, assessed his injuries and obtained a CT scan.

The staff then learned that the boy’s family had been in a motorbike accident. His mother was taken to the nearby Provincial Hospital. His older brother didn’t survive the accident.

After three weeks or intensive treatment and therapy, the child was able to return home with his mother, who also recovered from her injuries.

Read more here.

APLS Scholarship Awarded to Staff Doctor

   Dr. Vee Thongkham, a senior LFHC doctor, has been awarded a scholarship to attend an Advanced Pediatric Life Support (APLS) Australia Provider and Instructor course in Melbourne in May. This is a competitively earned scholarship which will also bring to LFHC some resources, including new training mannequins. The hospital’s mannequins are quite old and many of them cannot be manually ventilated (a core skill).

The scholarship and equipment are valued at AUD $10,000. Dr. Vee (pictured at far left in the photo) is a faculty member of LFHC’s new pediatric training program for physicians.

Hospital Units Add a Bit of Whimsy

   Graphic artists from Modlao, a Luang Prabang-based design company, have applied an assortment of colorful designs to the hallways and interior of the Neonatal Unit and Thalassemia Clinic. The project creates an upbeat, child-friendly atmosphere for patients and their families.

Many thanks to Marilyn Mears and the CW Asia Foundation for generously financing the project.

Seeds of Ingenuity: LFHC’s Vegetable Garden

   When families travel long distances to bring their children to LFHC, they often remain at the hospital if their children require an extended hospital stay. The hospital provides meals for these families while their children are treated and recovering.

To supplement the diets of these families, while keeping food costs down, the hospital has started its own vegetable garden. Initiated by LFHC Director of Administration Florent Planche, the garden is being planted on a plot adjacent to the hospital’s parking area.

Pumpkins, cabbage, onion, coriander, salad and green beans are being planted.

The LFHC nutrition team will also be able to work with some of these crops for the preparation of special food for patients.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED!

The hospital is seeking experienced doctors and nurses to serve as volunteers in February and March. Information can be found here.

December Newsletter

 

Doctors Solve Mystery of Teen’s Persistent Rashes

Fourteen-year-old Khamsouk first visited Lao Friends Hospital for Children when he developed unusual skin rashes. He typically responded to treatment, but the rashes eventually reappeared.

In August, his family once again brought Khamsouk to LFHC, but this time the rash was very different and included painful sores in his mouth which made it difficult for him to eat and drink. Khamsouk was again admitted and this time his hospitalization would span nearly three months.

A battery of tests eventually led doctors to conclude that Khamsouk was afflicted with lupus, an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal, healthy tissue.

Thanks to LFHC’s comprehensive care, Khamsouk’s condition was stabilized and he was able to go home with his family. He continues to return for follow-up visits and the staff is closely monitoring his recovery.

Read more here.

HeART to Showcase Designs of Creative Kids

Children hospitalized at LFHC and those who live in the region are creating T-shirt designs this month to show what they love about Laos. It’s all part of a Works of HeART, an event celebrating the fifth anniversary of LFHC and the 20th anniversary of Tiger Trail Travel.

Children from five to 12 years old are invited to the Friends Gallery on Kitsalat Road or the Tiger Trail sales office on Sisvangvong Road to draw their T-shirt designs. A committee will select the best design, which will be used to print T-shirts, and five other designs which will become greeting cards.

Proceeds from the eventual sale of T-shirts and greeting cards will benefit LFHC.

All the designs will be showcased at a Works of HeART exhibit on Jan. 10 at Friends Gallery.

Many Thanks to Team We Run!

Team We Run (TWR), which received the Best Friends of Friends award at the Lao Third Annual Gala Dinner in October, has donated or 63,166,792 kip ($7,116 US) from the money it raised during its fundraising campaign for Lao Friends Hospital for Children.

TWR organized and completed a four-day run in mid-October from the capital city of Vientiane to Luang Prabang to raise funds for the hospital and disaster relief. The team contributed half of the proceeds from its campaign to LFHC and used half to support flood relief efforts in the southern provinces of Laos.

TWR has supported LFHC for many years. The team encourages community health and supports social causes. Many thanks to TWR!

Inpatient Department Gains a Bit of Color and Fantasy

LFHC was acquiring a bit of color and whimsy this month thanks to the efforts of the family of Thansamay Group in Luang Prabang.

Staff members from the company decorated the walls inside the Inpatient Department with colorful decals of playful animals, flowers and hot air balloons. The decorations create a more child-friendly atmosphere for the hospitalized children and their families.

We are very grateful for the support and thoughtfulness of the Thansamay Group!

 

As the Year Ends, Give a Child a New Beginning

   There’s still time to make a donation to our Year End Appeal if you haven’t already done so.

As a subscriber to this newsletter, you know that Lao Friends Hospital for Children has become an incredibly important pediatric teaching hospital. This could not have been accomplished without supporters like you!

Since opening its doors in 2015, the hospital has made dramatic strides in the types and complexity of the medical services it provides. Indeed, children’s lives have been saved and thousands upon thousands of sick and injured children have been healed.

We need your continued support! Please click here to contribute to our Year End Appeal.

 

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED!

The hospital is seeking experienced doctors and nurses to serve as volunteers in January, February and March. Information can be found here.