The Emergency Department opened in November 2015, marking the start of 24/7 care for all children, including newborns, medical, surgical, and trauma victims. An average of 10 emergency patients per day are treated for a variety of illnesses, with infectious diseases accounting for over 80% of patient presenting illness. Diagnoses also included seasonal illnesses such as typhoid and dengue fever, malnutrition, Thalassemia, and nephrotic syndrome (kidney diseases).
On August 11, 2015, the Inpatient Department opened and admitted the first patient, a young girl with typhoid fever requiring IV therapy. She came from a poor Hmong family with 21 children and traveled from several hours away for treatment; her family was thrilled to receive the services LFHC had to offer. Following her admission, the bed census—which had started at six—quickly expanded to supporting up to 20 patients (despite officially having a maximum of 16 beds open at year’s end!). The Inpatient treats more seriously ill children who need regular medical care and 24/7 monitoring.
The IPD sees an increasing number of referrals from district hospitals, as well as from various provinces across Laos.
The Laboratory focuses on CBC (hemoglobin tests) and rapid tests to treat frequently seen diseases such as malaria, HIV, streptococcus, dengue, and typhoid. These tests provide immediate results and help direct care in an appropriate way. The Lao staff has grown from 2 to 3, as the lab moves toward call coverage and timely access to diagnostic aids, and the staff becomes more proficient in reading blood smears, gram stains and malaria tests.
They also completed the training for HIV testing and started doing the initial test, referring positive results to the provincial program for a 2nd confirmatory test. In total in 2015, 2,609 lab tests were completed, with 13% leading to a diagnosis of dengue fever, and 4% to malaria.
The Lao Friends Hospital for Children has officially opened its Neonatal Unit in October 2016. This unit enables staff to better focus on the needs of newborn babies and their families to deliver high-quality compassionate care in a pleasant and quiet environment.
Newborn babies, or neonates, require special care due to a series of challenges faced in the early stages of life. During the first 28 days of life, neonates are very small and thus often have immature lungs, low birth weights, and an undeveloped immune system. These fragile conditions can lead to low blood sugars, low oxygen levels, chest infections, skin infections, and jaundice. The neonatal unit at LFHC provides the required special equipment, a trained and caring staff, and a dedicated and isolated area.
In preparation for the opening of the unit, doctors and nurses received specific training from a group of experienced nurses from the Thai Red Cross. This not only expanded the technical knowledge of our staff in neonatal care, but also increased their confidence in handling and caring for such vulnerable patients.
The Outpatient Department treats a variety of illnesses common to children in Southeast Asia. The majority of children that arrive at LFHC present symptoms of coughing, fever, diarrhea, vomiting, breathing problem, or stomach ache; with the most common diagnoses being viral infection or upper respiratory infection. Up to 80 children are seen in the OPD every day.
The OPD opened on February 11, 2015, and the staff saw 47 patients in just one day. As time passed, the numbers presenting were twice what had been expected based on provincial hospital census information. The daily numbers have stabilized at about 50 outpatients with huge ranges – between 30 and 90 on any given day. Patients are seen by a dedicated team of Lao nurses and doctors who worked with the mentorship of expatriate volunteers.
Outpatient services are available Monday to Friday from 0800 to 1700.
Our Operating Theater opened on July 26th, 2016 with a newly trained staff to work with expert anesthetists from all over the world to develop their skills.
In addition to sending our staff for training, we have also been holding presentations on medical operations during our morning lectures. Volunteer doctors and nurses provide lectures on various medical topics such as common symptoms, infectious diseases, neonatal care, post-operation care and more.
LFHC Pharmacy doesn’t just dispense drugs, it works to educate families and children on best practices, how to properly administer medication, and how to prevent future infection or illness. The Pharmacy is active in continuing education – both pharmacy and medical education. All of the team participated in the Emergency Triage Assessment and Treatment course which promoted the team management of emergency patients. Numerous pharmacists have arrived from Canada, as well as from Germany and Australia. The challenges with inventory ranged from availability of critical drugs, difficult bureaucratic processes for ordering of pain medications and other controlled drugs, to constant stock outs.
The most common drugs dispensed by the LFHC Pharmacy include: Paracetamol (tylenol), Thiamine (Vitamin B1), Prednisolone, Folic acid, and Multivitamins (malnutrition).
The diagnostic imaging department opened in May 2015 with first RAD-AID team, including a radiologist, an ultrasound technician, and a radiology technician. They were able to set up the digital radiology machine as well as teach in both ultrasound and x-ray modalities to the new Lao x-ray technician. With an expanding Lao technician staff (2 at year’s end with plans to expand to 3), the teaching from RAD-AID volunteers was instrumental to the ability to provide high quality albeit simple diagnostics.
An additional highlight for the department was the installation of PACS (patient archiving system) which allowed images to be uploaded and stored rather than needing to print films. This technology enabled reading of the information anywhere over the hospital’s network, plus easy transmission to outside consultants.
Finally, in mid-2015 LFHC was thrilled to partner with the World Federation of Pediatric Imaging (WFPI) who provided ongoing remote radiology reading and consultation for many difficult x-rays and ultrasounds.