As a member of the primary care team of Good Samaritan Medical Dental Ministry (GSMDM), I will be traveling to Cao Bang, Vietnam this summer for 2 weeks to provide pediatric care to the children of the minority mountain tribes who often lack access to basic healthcare. GSMDM team members also consist of other healthcare professionals including family practitioners, surgeons, dentists, nurses, and pharmacists as well as volunteers and students who annually since 2000 spend time in Vietnam to not only provide often urgent and emergent direct care to the indigent population of mountainous Cao Bang but also coordinate referrals and transfer of patient with serious and complex medical conditions to the nearest hospital for subspecialty care. I will also likely partner with health officials to train local healthcare providers to sustain continued access to care.
Given that Cao Bằng is one of the poorest and under-developed provinces of northern Vietnam due to its mountainous terrain, schools and hospitals are often limited and in poor condition. Therefore the children living in Cao Bang are poverty-stricken with significant adverse childhood experiences that have life-long health and social consequences. I anticipate caring for children with undiagnosed conditions ranging from malnutrition and common infections to thalassemia and congenital heart disease.
Each year, GSMDM’s summer mission has served approximately a couple thousands of patients and performed tens of surgeries over the span of 2 weeks. Dental, vision, and primary care services were provided in make shift clinics set up in local schools. More complex cases were triaged then transferred to the nearest hospital four hours away. I anticipate that my participation this summer will be similarly busy and productive providing care to those in need. Exposing student to medical mission work and training local physicians and health care providers are integral parts of GSMDM’s goals. I plan to mentor our volunteer students who are interested in joining the medical field to provide care to the underserved. Training of local providers will also be a priority as it will make access to medical care locally more sustainable.
For two weeks from 7/5-7/18/19, our team of medical professionals consisting of primary care physicians, surgeons, dentists, nurses, and pharmacists as well as student volunteers not only served 300+ patients per day in the remote villages/town in the province of Cao Bang but also performed minor procedures to surgeries and made referrals for appropriate treatments of conditions such as congenital heart disease, thalassemia, and suspected cancers. Although the days were long, hot, and humid, the smiles on the faces served made it all worthwhile. The aspiring pre-health professional students' volunteerism were unwavering and the Vietnamese family practice residents' enthusiasm in their learning and partnership with the US team were commendable. This experience truly helped me to renew my so called "medical vows." Thank you Dox Foundation for your support in global health initiatives.