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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.

August Newsletter

 

 

 

 

 

Hospital Sees Uptick in Caseload 

   More than 2,230 children received medical treatment in July at Lao Friends Hospital for Children, much more than twice the caseload seen in April when travel and other restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 had their greatest impact.

Outpatients and Emergency Room patients accounted for most of the caseload increase.

Seventy-one infants were admitted to the Neonatal Unit in July, a slight increase from the 62 admissions in July 2019.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Laos has reported 22 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. More than 35,500 suspected cases have been tested.

Surgeons Mend Boy Severely Injured in Fall from Tree

   Sengdao enjoys climbing trees to gather ripened mangos. But he recently slipped while reaching for a mango and was critically injured in a fall.

Several hours after the accident, Sengdao arrived at LFHC where a medical team quickly performed blood work, ultrasound imaging and X-rays. The diagnostic tests showed that the boy had sustained fractures to both arms and his right femur.

Surgeons repaired the fractures and Sengdao required many visits to the operating room for dressing changes. He also worked with the hospital’s physiotherapist to enhance his recovery.

Although his rehabilitation has been long, Sengdao continues to make progress. He has been discharged from the hospital and is expected to do very well!

Dengue Cases Soar in Laos

   The number of dengue cases in Laos has exceeded 4,700 since January and nine people have died from the mosquito-borne disease, according to a report from the Lao Ministry of Health.

At LFHC, 23 children have tested positive for dengue (81 dengue tests have been performed). Lao health officials reported in early August that 235 cases of dengue had been diagnosed in Luang Prabang province.

Lao health authorities have urged people to clear potential mosquito breeding sites around their homes and workplaces to help control the spread of the disease.

Dengue is endemic in Laos. Peak transmission occurs during warmer and wetter months, usually from May to October.

The infection is characterized by flu-like symptoms, which include a sudden high fever, pain behind the eyes, muscle, joint, and bone pain, severe headache, and a skin rash with red spots. The symptoms can be treated, but  there is no antiviral treatment available.

LFHC Saves Infant Born with Gastroschisis

   An infant born in late May at a district hospital was rushed to LFHC with a severe form of gastroschisis, a malformation in which the baby’s intestines grow outside the body.

The hospital staff noted that in addition to the intestines, the infant’s liver, stomach and bladder were also exposed. An Emergency Room team quickly stabilized the baby, Airnoy Jame, and administered IV fluids and antibiotics.

After surgery and four weeks of intensive treatment, Airnoy Jame’s mother was finally able to cradle her son in her arms.

Read more here.

Reminder: Save the Date!

   Plans are progressing for Friends Without A Border’s first International Virtual Run for 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 are launching a virtual event, which basically allows you to race in your own space. 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.

POSITION AVAILABLE!

The hospital is seeking a Director of NursingThis is a salaried position. Additional information and how to apply can be found here.

LFHC Saves Infant Born with Organ Malformation

An infant born in late May at a district hospital was rushed to LFHC with a severe form of gastroschisis, a malformation in which the baby’s intestines grow outside the body.

The hospital staff noted that in addition to the intestines, the infant’s liver, stomach and bladder were also exposed. An Emergency Room team quickly stabilized the baby, Airnoy Jame, and administered IV fluids and antibiotics. They also carefully wrapped the exposed organs to protect them from infection and injury.

Airnoy Jame was then taken to the operating theater, where a surgical team placed a silo over the organs. A silo is used when the gastroschisis is large. Eventually, surgeons gradually reinsert the organs through the silo into the baby’s body.

Airnoy Jame remained in the silo for four weeks. During that time the team worked diligently to treat his infections, provide blood transfusions and ensure that he had the nutrition necessary to grow.

After the surgeons closed the baby’s abdomen, his mother, who had always been by his side, was finally able to hold her son. It was several more weeks before he was ready to go home, but on July 30 he was discharged to the care of his grateful parents.

Friends Without A Border’s First International Virtual Run for Children

The International Virtual Run for Children 2020 is an extension of the Luang Prabang Half Marathon Run for Children series!

You can participate in this run no matter where you live! You can choose to run anywhere – at home, outdoors, or even on a treadmill!

Distances available:

  • 7 Km
  • 14 Km
  • 21 Km
  • 30 Km for cycling
  • 50 Km for cycling
  • 100 Km for cycling

Participation Date: October 16th -18th 2020

Register here.

If you cannot participate, please make a donation to this fundraiser here.

As a Runner, you can also host your own campaign and ask your loved ones to show their support by sponsoring you! All the amount collected will support Lao Friends Hospital for Children to help them provide free medical care to children in Laos.
Let’s Run together this October!

What is a Virtual Run?

A virtual run is a flexible running event where runners can participate from any international location or time-zone. They may run at home, at a park, or even on a treadmill. The distance, location, and track is decided by the runner himself/herself.

How to record your running result?

  • By using a GPS app to record your result during your run (i.e. Garmin Connect, Fitbit, Apple Health, S Health, Runkeeper, Strava, Endomondo, etc.).
  • By using a health app to record your result during your run (i.e. Garmin Connect, Fitbit, Apple Health, S Health, etc.).
  • By taking a photo or a screenshot of your race result from other running events that you will join during 16th – 18th October 2020. If you happened to run on a treadmill, you can also take a photo of the result once completed your registered distance.

Additional information about this exciting event can be seen here on the registration page.

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.

 

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.

His family was very concerned, but didn’t know exactly what to do. They treated him with a local medicine, but after six days of home care, they decided to take Joy to a nearby hospital. The staff there told the family that there wasn’t much that could be done for the boy and sent them home with some over-the-counter pain medication.

Fourteen days after the accident, Joy arrived at LFHC where he was diagnosed with a dislocation of the right hip. Surgical pins were inserted to allow Joy’s hip to heal in the correct position and he was placed in traction.

LFHC used WFPI (World Federation of Pediatric Imagers) to assist in reviewing Joy’s X-rays to ensure that he would have the best possible outcome. Joy spent more than a month in traction at LFHC. During that time, the team of doctors and nurses worked to coordinate his care, while our child life therapist and physiotherapist worked to improve his mobility.

Joy is recovering and returns to LFHC for follow-up visits. He is able to walk with some difficulty but without pain and his father made special crutches to help him get around faster.

Globally, road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death for children and young adults between the ages of 5 and 29, according to the World Health Organization. Joy is a survivor.

LFHC Doctors Gain Insights, Experience in Residency Program

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.

Dr. Senkeo has one more year of residency to complete her pediatric training and will then return to LFHC. She said her residency has exposed her to clinical cases, departments and treatments that she had not experienced at LFHC. She also learned more about coordination with different departments for patient diagnosis and treatment, particularly regarding emergency room cases. Dr. Senkeo said she is confident that what she has learned will help her and her colleagues continue improving quality of care at the LFHC.

Dr. Phoumy Manivong (left)

Dr. Manivong started his pediatric residency last year and noted that training with neonatal cases and emergency room cases has been a particularly valuable experience. He said he has been working with challenging emergency cases in which he had had the opportunity to expand his knowledge and skills. Dr. Manivong mentioned that he is gaining confidence and acquiring leadership skills during his residency and looks forward to sharing his experiences with LFHC colleagues, students and patients’ families when he returns to our hospital.

Dr. Sordaluck said she is exploring such new areas as hematology/oncology and learning different processes in the Intensive Care Unit and the emergency room. She said her residency recently focused on treatments for patients with anemia, leukemia and electrolyte imbalance. She also practiced basic and advanced life support, while also practicing in five different

Dr. Vilaivone Senkeo

departments (hematology/oncology, ICU, emergency room, infectious diseases department and general ward). She is convinced that this experience is going to help her and LFHC to improve teamwork, patient treatment and the patient referral process.

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.

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.

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.

Our nurses and doctors were concerned about the infant’s ability to survive, but they were not discouraged. Over the next several weeks, they worked diligently to care for her. They administered IV antibiotics, IV fluids, multiple medications, phototherapy, a nasogastric tube to help her feed and a blood transfusion. The clinical staff became optimistic as she responded to the intensive care and started to grow.

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.

Airnoy Vahn and mother

Not to be outdone, a second tiny infant, Airnoy Vahn, arrived on March 7, weighing only 21 ounces (600 grams). Born at home, he and his parents travelled for two hours to reach LFHC. The team at LFHC immediately applied life-support measures. Much like Airnoy Larnoy, Airnoy Vahn required a lot of specialized support, but showed steady progress over the course of his stay, which lasted nearly 12 weeks. By the end of May, he was discharged, weighing 3.3 pounds (1.95 kg), and secured his place as the smallest Neonatal Unit patient to be successfully discharged from the Neonatal Unit to date, as well as a huge victory for LFHC.

During their long stays, the families got to know and support each other. Both mothers lovingly cared for their infants and worked with the doctors and nurses to tend to the needs of these tiny patients.

These two success stories are a testament to the achievements of the Neonatal Unit and enhance the reputation that the hospital has earned in the surrounding communities.

The first 28 days of life represents the most vulnerable time for a child’s survival and accounts for approximately 46% of all deaths of children under the age of five, according to the World Health Organization. This is especially true for infants born prematurely, which is the leading cause of death in this age group.

The LFHC Neonatal Unit opened in 2016 with the goal of providing specialized care to our smallest patients. Given the increasing number of babies who needed specialized care, this unit was expanded in 2018. There are now nurses dedicated to the Neonatal Unit and assuming leadership roles. Nurses working in the unit have completed additional training courses and received mentorship from expat volunteers with expertise in this field to ensure that they have the skills necessary to care for premature patients. Several neonatal physicians have also volunteered in past years to help develop the unit.

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, but simply cannot afford to cover food costs. Our Outreach Team assesses families to determine whether they need food assistance. Administrative Assistant Phonesavanh Phongsavath (Norm) and the nutrition team then coordinate the daily food supply for families who qualify.

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, chilis, cabbage, green beans and lettuce now grow in our garden.

Semany Phongsavath (Aye)

Any surplus produced is offered to families to bring home when their child is discharged. Hospital nutritionist Bounmark Phoumesy (Toun) noted that the project not only helps families and patients during a hospital stay, but also teaches families about including various vegetables in their meals at home.

The LFHC garden would not be as beautiful and productive without the support of gardener Semany Phongsavath (Aye), who is in charge of preparing the soil, watering and taking care of the vegetables. Many thanks to Mr. Aye.