Yvonne helps the nurses at Benh Vien Quan 2 with patient intake on Ngay 3. Photo by Julian.
The most important words for the past two days were “viêm gan siêu vi B”, Hepatitis B. The second most important words were “vắc xin ngừa viêm gan siêu vi B,” or “Hepatitis B vaccine”. After a year of planning, the Hepatitis B program, made possible by our friends at UNAVSA (see Ngày 0 for more details), made its first debut at Bệnh Viện Quận 2 (District 2 Hospital). MEMObers were able to help out the hospital staff with the screenings and vaccinations of the thousands of patients who arrived for the program. As with any new venture, we had a few hiccups (perhaps the best possible hiccups) at the beginning, but by the second day, the 8G MEMObers were able to apply all of their Training Day skills to the first clinic setting of the trip.
Ngày 3 Recap
After eating breakfast at 6 AM, the 8G MEMO team boarded our usual bus and got on our way to Bệnh Viện Quận 2 for the first day of the Hepatitis B program. We put on our MEMO scrubs for the first time as a group, making the trip feel even more real than before. We finally looked like the past MEMO mission goers in the photos we had spent much time looking through in anticipation for our own trip. On this particular day, we were looking forward to triaging and ultrasound-ing with the people who would benefit from this program. However, as we pulled up to the hospital around 7:30-8 AM, we saw that the place was already milling with people, with staff workers making announcements over the speakers and moving the crowd through each task. It was clear the program was already going at full force. The hospital had made good use of the funds from the Hep B program, setting up fully-staffed spaces for people to take numbers and have their basic information recorded, blood draw stations to collect samples for screening for Hep B, blood pressure stations, results stations, vaccination stations, and more. For those who received positive results for Hepatitis B, they were to be sent to an ultrasound room for further examination by our own radiologist Dr. Belville, who had just arrived. The program seemed so well-equipped and self-sufficient that we actually had to ask for positions for MEMObers to help! While our MEMObers were disappointed by the lack of work available for them this day, knowing that the Hep B program was running well anyhow helped us realize that this was certainly not the worst problem we could be having.
The MEMObers filed into an auditorium where hospital staff members and doctors, including our own vascular surgeon Dr. Duy, gave speeches about the program to an audience of patients and lectured on the symptoms, transmission, and prevention of Hepatitis B. Afterwards, the MEMObers remained in the room, available for any open positions with intake, records, or blood pressure. Knowing how to speak, read, and/or write Vietnamese was very important for the work, so our more knowledgeable speakers were kept relatively busy helping with the patient information and translating. Some other MEMObers were able to shadow the local doctors present on the site, and all were available to observe the different points of the program. The open positions available in records, blood pressure, shadowing, and intake were few since the program had so much professional help from hospital staff, so MEMObers had to rotate often in order to give everyone a chance to do some work. In our downtime, we bonded in the auditorium with games, plenty of chatting, and even a practice physical therapy session with Sam.
After our 8G leadership spoke with the hospital to ensure more positions were available for MEMObers the next day, we left to go eat at a beautiful outdoor restaurant for lunch. Rain began to pour around us just as we were digging into the main courses; officially one of my favorite memories. We then returned to our hotel and had free time to shop, exercise, and rest before dinner at an incredible buffet at the Bình Quới Tourist Village. It was basically the Vietnamese Disneyland of buffets, with tons of awesome food for your unlimited consumption, gorgeous scenery around you, and extra-short tables and chairs for the authentic dining experience. The only bad thing was that mosquitos loved it as well, and I know I got more bites in one night than I had the previous days. After eating our fill, we returned to the restaurant and MEMObers bonded in each other’s rooms until lights out.
Ngày 4 Recap
Once again we arrived at Bệnh Viện Quận 2 early in the morning after breakfast, but unlike yesterday, we went straight into our rotating shifts at the blood pressure, intake, records, glucose/cholesterol, and ultrasound stations. Several of the interested MEMObers were also rotated through shadowing Dr. Sim Ca. Having refreshed our skills with the work the day before, we felt ready and willing to jump right into the already bustling Hep B program.
The work today was much more satisfying than the day before as we were able to make up a substantial portion of the workforce. The 8G officers supervised the MEMObers and switched out the shifts as necessary. Time passed by quickly when the stations received plenty of patients; it was amazing how much forty minutes felt like fifteen. We returned to the same outdoor restaurant from yesterday’s lunch for today’s lunch, then went back for more shifts at the hospital until 4 PM. With real clinical experience under our belts at last, the 8G MEMObers left the site with a greater sense of purpose.
We returned to our hotel and had several hours to rest and get ready for our special fancy MEMO dinner on a boat. The boys put on their shirts and ties, looking dapper, and the girls looked fabulous in their dresses. The restaurant was inside a boat designed to look like a junk (the type of boat), and musicians and dancers performed with classic Vietnamese instruments and costumes. After the delicious dinner, we took photos at the bow and watched the lit-up Sài Gòn skyline move by as the boat made its way around the river. A lightning storm provided some more entertainment to the already extraordinary view.
- 1000+ patients were screened and vaccinated for Hepatitis B
- patients were educated on what Hepatitis B is, how it is transmitted, and what to do to prevent it
- the Hepatitis B program began!
Personal Reflections Ngày 3 by Kevin
Interviewing the patients that were being screened for Hepatitis B today at the hospital was an amazing experience for me. The patients were extremely nice and cooperative in answering the questions despite my struggle with explaining Hepatitis B in Vietnamese. However, what really surprised me when interviewing these patients was that I received responses from both ends of the spectrum. On one end, you have those who knew what Hepatitis B was and on the other end, you have those who didn’t. By holding this screening, we were able to not only educate the patients what the program was about and how to get treatment, we were also able to provide medical care for the impoverished Vietnamese people. This is what MEMO is all about and that’s why I enjoy being in MEMO with all my fellow MEMObers striving towards a common mission!
Ngày 4 by Truman
Like yesterday, we went to the hospital to screen for Hepatitis B. Although we performed the same basic tasks as before, every passing moment brought about a new patient and a new story to learn. After observing the interactions between the patients and Bác Sĩ Sim Ca (Dr. Sim Ca), as well as communicating with the doctor using my extensively broken Vietnamese, I walked away with a deeper understanding of the plight of the Vietnamese people. She explained that the lack of doctors in Vietnam relative to the number of patients made it impossible to perform a detailed diagnosis. The rushed nature of these patient-doctor visits, often lasting only a minute or two, were also prone to mistakes and inaccurate diagnoses. This really opened my eyes to the medical disparity between developed and developing countries like Vietnam. It’s ironic and unfortunate that there is so little medical care available to a country where a majority of the population lives in poverty and desperately needs the attention. Because of this, I fully appreciate the opportunity that MEMO is giving us to make a difference on the 8G mission trip. Not only can we extend a helping hand to those currently in need, but we also gain the knowledge we need to truly understand and fix situations like this in the future—MEMO truly is a gift that keeps on giving!
Snapshots Ngày 3
The Hepatitis B Program had an incredible turnout. The nurses at the intake station filled out thousands of intake forms over the course of the two days. Photo by Julian.
(left to right) Dylan and Danny use their skills from Training Day at the blood pressure station. Photo by Julian.
While waiting for the next shift, Sam teaches Kristina and Crystal what he learned from physical therapy training the night before. Photo by Julian.
MEMObers dine together fancy-like at a beautiful restaurant in their MEMO scrubs. Photo by Juilan.
Duyen, Duy, Yvonne, and Brandon man the glucose/cholesterol station. Photo by Julian.
Long watches as Ailin brushes up on her glucose/cholesterol testing skills. Photo by Julian
A patient winces while getting her blood drawn by hospital staff as her family looks on in support. Photo by Julian.
Thao uses her native Vietnamese language skills to help the nurses with patient records. Photo by Julian.
Simon helps Elaine and Vanessa digitize patient information in the records room. Photo by Crystal.
Mandy, Duy, and Kim work alongside nurses at the blood pressure station. Photo by Julian.
(left to right) Kevin, Simon, and Truman are all smiles after they shadowed Dr. Sim Ca. Photo provided by Truman.
(left to right) Rebecca, Kat, Mandy, Nick, Danny, and Kristina enjoy a beautiful dinner together on the boat. Photo by Julian.
The 8G Team (minus Julian, Long, and Dr. Belville, who are taking photos) sure know how to look classy for banquet. Photo by Julian.
Written by Crystal.
(left to right) Natalie, Johnny, and Miles. Just part of the Ultrasound Team! Photo by Crystal
Why 8G?: I go every year, and I keep coming back because it’s different each time, so it’s always interesting. You learn a lot about medicine. At the hospital you can see things you can’t see as much in the US. You get the whole cultural experience.
Why 8G?: I’ve always wanted to participate in a medical mission so that I can dedicate 100% of my time serving others with the knowledge I’ve gained from my years at school, so when I heard about MEMO, it was a dream come true to be able to serve my own people and learn more about my culture and cuisine myself.
Major: Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology
Why 8G?: I heard about MEMO from Johnson (7G) and he mentioned that what was special about MEMO compared to other medical mission groups was that you are able to go to the same places year after year and see the same people each time you serve them, so it is a continuous effect. I wanted to be involved with something where you make a lasting impact.