Lao Friends Hospital for Children (LFHC) met the challenges posed by an extremely busy first half of 2019. Various hospital departments treated record numbers of patients, while the hospital expanded the services it offered. In short, the facility continued to develop as a modern pediatric teaching hospital.
The volume of treatment and services increased substantially during the first half of the year, compared to the first half of 2018:
- The hospital’s doctors, nurses and other professional staff handled a total of 15,789 medical cases during the first six months of the year – a 36.7% increase in caseload from the same period in 2018;
- The LFHC Emergency Room continued to be incredibly busy, treating 5,488 cases during the first half of the year – more than double the ER cases during the first six months of 2018;
- By mid-year, the Outpatient Department recorded 11,908 medical treatments – a 19.9% increase from the same period in 2018;
- The surgery team performed 528 procedures during the first half of 2019 – a 73% increase from the same period in 2018;
- By mid-2019, LFHC had hospitalized 1,384 children for medical treatment – a 34.2% increase from mid-2018.
The growing caseload is largely attributed to the increased public awareness of LFHC as a hospital that provides free, high-quality, compassionate pediatric care. The hospital’s reputation is attracting families from near and far. Frankly, there is no other facility in northern Laos that offers the level of pediatric care available at LFHC.
Thanks to the generous support of our donors, the hospital is able to meet the financial demands placed on it by this dramatic increase in caseload. And we would stress that our donors’ contributions are efficiently and effectively spent at the hospital – Friends Without A Border has consistently received top ratings by Charity Navigator and GuideStar, two independent watchdog organizations that assess the cost-effectiveness and transparency of nonprofits.
LFHC not only treated record numbers of children during the first half of 2019, but it also enhanced and expanded its training programs for Lao doctors, nurses and other health care providers. Our nurses completed more than 200 medical courses during that period. Furthermore, our Lao staff taught 12 short courses in such subjects as wound care, neonatal nursing and Excel software.
It’s important to note that LFHC has expanded its role as a teaching hospital by providing education and training to health care professionals from other hospitals and clinics. The training has covered such topics as breastfeeding, triage and basic life support. In early 2019, LFHC staff members began to train doctors and nurses from Nam Bak District Hospital in the proper care and treatment of patients afflicted with thalassemia, an inherited blood disorder quite prevalent in northern Laos. The Nam Bak training will allow thalassemia patients, who typically require regular blood transfusions, to be treated closer to their homes and avoid long trips to the LFHC Thalassemia Clnic. Additionally, our doctors and nurses conducted two neonatal resuscitation training sessions for staff members at the neighboring Luang Prabang District Hospital.
LFHC’s doctors are not only treating larger numbers of children, but they are also undertaking more complex medical cases. In April, surgeons performed the hospital’s first splenectomy on a 7-year-old boy who has been afflicted with thalassemia since infancy. The surgery greatly reduces the child’s need for regular blood transfusions and increases his life expectancy. In May, surgeons saved the life of a boy who suffered a severe head injury in a fall from a tree. The surgery team successfully relieved pressure from an intracranial epidural hemorrhage and the boy eventually recovered with help from the hospital’s nurses and physical therapist. Surgeons performed the same surgery in June to save the life of a 6-year-old boy who sustained a severe head injury when struck by a vehicle.
A few other significant developments at LFHC during the first half of 2019:
- The hospital embarked upon its first major research project. LFHC partnered with colleagues at the Institute for Global Nutrition at the University of California, Davis and the Lao Tropical and Public Health Institute to undertake what may be the world’s most comprehensive study into the physiology and pathology of thiamine deficiency (beriberi) in infants.
- Moving Child, a long-time supporter of LFHC, agreed to finance a three-year program to train our Lao staff doctors in modern pediatrics. The $381,000 grant will cover all costs of the teaching program, which is equivalent to a pediatric residency. The program enhances LFHC’s role as a teaching hospital and builds the intellectual sustainability of the hospital staff.
- The nonprofit RAD-AID organization linked the hospital to its Friendship Cloud, which it formed in a partnership with Google Cloud, Ambra Health and Tribalco. LFHC is the first hospital to use the RAD-AID Friendship Cloud and has already stored more than 14,000 X-rays and other diagnostic images on it – making the hospital’s patient care more efficient and effective.
- The hospital initiated a follow-up clinic for children being treated for malnutrition. Last year, more than 150 children were treated for severe or moderate malnutrition. The follow-up clinic includes test-feeding (under medical supervision) of ready-to-use therapeutic food. The hospital’s therapeutic food program is designed to dramatically reduce the need to hospitalize malnourished children for long periods.
- An LFHC nurse became the facility’s lactation consultant. The nurse completed breastfeeding training with specialists from France and Australia and spends two afternoons a week in the LFHC Neonatal Unit to help news mother express milk and feed their babies. She is also putting her knowledge to work in the maternity ward of the neighboring Luang Prabang Provincial Hospital.