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.
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.
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.
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 clothes. Her skirt was quickly extinguished, but the little girl suffered burns to her legs and lower abdomen.
The family tried to care for Xiasee’s burns, but could do little to help their daughter who was experiencing a great deal of pain. They rushed her to the Bokeo Province Hospital, but eventually brought her to Lao Friends Hospital for Children — about 10-12 hours away.
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 immediately administered morphine for her pain and cleaned and dressed her wounds.
Xiasee required frequent dressing changes over the next several weeks. She was sedated during these painful procedures and given intravenous doses of the antibiotic cefazolin to treat infections, which likely occurred because of the delay in getting her proper medical treatment.
After spending a month at LFHC, Xiasee’s burns had begun to heal, but it became clear that she needed a large skin graft – an operation beyond the capabilities of local physicians. LFHC transferred Xiasee to a hospital in Vientiane, where a specialist performed the skin graft with the help of a plastic surgery team from Interplast, an Australian nonprofit organization.
Xiasee returned to LFHC following her surgery and continues to receive care from the nurses and doctors who have been involved since her initial admission, as well as the hospital’s nutritionist, physiotherapist and outreach team. She is making an excellent recovery and the staff loves seeing her smiling again!
Hospital staff members have begun using an upgraded 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.
The Bahmni EMR system presents patient histories in a clearer and more accessible interface. It enables doctors to monitor progress on requests for such things as lab work, pharmacy, radiology. It also allows staff to order and document medication, fluids, feeds and such procedures as the administration of blood products.
The time saved by using the system ultimately means more efficient and effective care for patients.
Denis Martin, a member of the Friends Without A Border Board of Directors, was instrumental in the acquisition and implementation of the Bahmni system.
Our system serves as a model for hospitals and clinics throughout the Lao PDR.
The 18th Annual New York Gala has been postponed and rescheduled to a date in September. “Achieving Our Mission” is the theme of this year’s event.
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.
The CT scan revealed that the boy, Tolex Vannadeth, had sustained a head injury that produced bleeding and pressure on his brain. Doctors administered several medications to reduce the pressure, control seizures, prevent infection and manage pain. His condition remained critical for the next few days.
Tolex gradually responded to treatment and despite his condition, he let everyone know that he welcomed the company of the staff and his siblings who later came to visit. He found comfort in holding the hand of a staff member and enjoyed hearing his siblings sing to him.
Tolex slowly improved and began working with the hospital’s physiotherapist. His mother also improved and three weeks after their accident, both were able to go home.
Tolex continues to receive therapy and the staff is excited to see his ongoing recovery.
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.
Mark Gorman, the hospital’s Executive Director, welcomed guests to the event and FWAB Founder Kenro Izu introduced a video produced for the celebration by Adri Berger (which can be viewed here).
FWAB Executive Director Nicole Pagourgis thanked the local community and the organization’s many donors for their support during the past five years.
The event, which featured traditional Lao and Hmong dance groups, was attended by representatives of the Lao Ministry of Health and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Officials from the Luang Prabang Provincial Health Department and Provincial Hospital also attended.
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.
The curriculum for the new program was developed by Medical Education Director Dr. Rathi Guhadasan, who designed a similar training program 16 years ago for doctors at the Angkor Hospital for Children in Cambodia. The program is being financed by a generous grant from Moving Child, a foundation based in Munich, Germany.
Dr. Guhadasan proposed the LFHC program last year, noting that only three of the 22 doctors on staff had received structured training in pediatric care. A national pediatric training program accepts only 1-2 doctors from LFHC per year.
The LFHC Pediatric Training Program will offer four years of academic and clinical instruction in pediatrics. Participants must pass the LFHC Child Health Foundation Course to qualify for the next three years of training. The foundation course addresses the medical team’s current learning needs in medicine and English.
The program also features an online learning component. This is added because there is less face-to-face protected teaching time available at LFHC, but it also helps to strengthen self-directed learning skills, processing and application of information and critical thinking. For many of the staff doctors, personal internet is limited and their only personal device may be a smartphone. In order for this component to be effective, the hospital is adding five computer workstations to the library.
Friends Without A Border and hospital administrators are pursuing negotiations with Lao Health Ministry officials to establish a nationally accredited pediatric training residency for physicians at LFHC.
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.
One-third of all those treatments happened in 2019, making it the busiest year the history of the hospital.
LFHC doctors and nurses handled 39,944 medical cases last year, according to year-end data. That’s a 27.6% 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.