Monday, September 19, 2016

Fall Mission Completed

Our fall Vietnam mission is complete. With the support of our mission partner IPSAC and the Provincial Hospital leadership and surgical, medical and nursing staff, we were able to successfully perform 24 urologic procedures on children in need. In addition to these surgeries, knowledge was transferred at all points in the continuum of care - from the bedside to the conference room. We collaborated to do screenings, provide pre- and post-op care and family education and, of course, hands-on training in the OR. On our last day, we did a workshop on optimizing surgical outcomes with a multidisciplinary approach. It ended with a good discussion illustrating the differences between our healthcare settings and the impact resources have on patients and teams. We were also supported by a very committed and helpful team of interpreters all along the way.
Father Joseph, IPSAC and Minh Hang Hoang, Interpreter
The children and families we encountered this week were absolutely amazing. It was especially touching to see how children and families supported one another, even though they may not have known one another prior to coming to us for surgical care. One father helped a pregnant mother by carrying her child for her. They supported one another with encouraging words and friendly smiles. They worked together like one big family, challenged while being far from home and stressed by the prospect of their children needing surgery, but all on a similar journey.

Even the children offered encouragement to each other. Our last case of the day on Thursday was the special little boy pictured in the photo. Because eating and drinking prior to surgery isn't allowed, the other children waiting for their procedures were hungry and thirsty. He helped to calm and distract them by blowing bubbles, offering them toys and playing with them, all with a huge smile.

After leaving Thanh Hoa, most of the CSI team spent an additional day in Hanoi where we visited Blossom House, a foster home for girls aged 5-18 years run by Humanitarian Services for Children of Vietnam. HSCV is a non-profit organization founded by Minnesotans Chuck DeVet and his daughter Annetta. The home provides holistic care for girls from families living in extreme poverty. Learn more about HSCV at Our friends at HSCV provided us with critical logistical support and translation services for our medical mission in Thanh Hoa, so we were grateful to be able to, in turn, provide support and information to the girls at Blossom House.

Our team offered a workshop for the girls titled “Take Care of that Temple,” with a focus on positive self-image and self-care. The girls really enjoyed writing positive messages about themselves and their peers. We also discussed and demonstrated the importance of hand hygiene, which was identified as a strong need and was well-received. We hope to continue to partner with HSCV and visit Blossom House on return missions to the region.

Thanks to Dollies Making A Difference, we were able to leave some sweet hand-made dolls with the girls. The girls so appreciated the gifts.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Surgeries, Education and Children's New Year Celebration

It has been a very, very busy few days for our Vietnam team and local partners! 51 children were evaluated by our surgical, medical and nursing teams during screening. 25 of those children will have surgery this week. Because of the continuity that we are able to provide with return missions, many of these children are returning for planned surgical follow up.

Today was eventful, and ran smoothly thanks to an incredibly flexible team. Our second CSI urologist, Dr. Alonso Carrasco, arrived this morning. Several surgical cases were completed. The most complicated of the day was a 7 month old infant girl who required a partial kidney removal and surgical repair of the ureter. She came through the procedure like a champ! We are grateful for the many opportunities for education and collaboration.

Tonight we attended a hospital celebration of the mid autumn festival (children's new year).  We were asked to do something special for the hundreds of children and parents who attended.  CSI volunteer, Leon Randall accepted the challenge to lead our team in a performance.  Our rendition of the classic "Heads, shoulders, knees and toes" was a huge hit!  The crowd joined in and we had a blast. What a special time to be here working with our partners for the children of Vietnam.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Screening Day Completed - Surgery Schedule Set for the Week

Screening day is complete and the surgery schedule is full for the week! This is the time to meet prospective children for evaluation, review medical records, and assess the children's current health status and readiness for surgery. As the photos show, the CSI team is partnering with IPSAC and local Vietnamese surgical and medical staff to make the most of our time onsite.

The surgical focus for the week is urological, with an educational focus on evaluating and implementing ways to improve surgical outcomes with a multidisciplinary approach.

The children couldn't be sweeter, and proud families anxiously await life-changing surgeries. More later.....
Ashley Chitty, RN bonding with a sweet patient

The team is greeted by many happy families.

Dr. David Vandersteen, Pediatric Urologist 

CSI team, IPSAC, Vietnamese staff and Interpreters preparing for the first day.

Thank goodness for interpreters!!

Dr. Jesse Hennum, Pediatrician 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Team has Arrived Safely, and Ready to Work!

After extensive travels, including 4 airports and a very long bus ride, CSI's team of volunteer surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurse anesthetists, pediatric nurses and support staff have made it safely to Thanh Hoa, Vietnam!
We were welcomed with open arms by friends both old and new. We are fired up and ready to work this week for these beautiful kiddos on the other side of the world. Keep watch for news to come - screening day is tomorrow. Now for some much needed sleep.....