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.
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.
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.