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Inspiration in medical missions in Vietnam

I recently returned to volunteer in Vietnam for the first time in 13 years. On my first mission with One World Pediatric Care, I was still in nursing school, so I had limited clinical expertise, but being a native of Vietnam I was able to provide language skills and cultural knowledge to the team. I have fond memories of our team intro-ducing the Vietnamese doctors to Laparoscopy equipment and training them on its use. When we deprted, we left behind the Laparoscopy equipment. It was gratifying to return to Vietnam and find that Laparoscopy equipment is now readily available and in common use at Vietnamese hospitals and clinics.

This year, I joined a mission trip with Vietnam Health Clinic (VHC) from August 23-September 6. VHC is a student-led organization at the University of Washington dedicated to improving access to healthcare for underprivileged people in Vietnam, and recruits medical professionals to volunteer their services.  I joined ten medical physicians, two doctors of dentistry, one ophthalmologist and two optometrists to accompany the approximately 40 student organizers visiting small villages in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam.

In Vietnam, we traveled 2-3 hours by bus from Can Tho city to remote villages to provide care. Once in the villages, the student volunteers from VHC set up the mobile clinics; our mobile clinic was usually up and functioning an hour after we arrived.  We set up different stations such as vital signs area, triage area, vision check, pharmacy, public health area and doctors’ offices.

We often served well over 300 poor and uneducated villagers in some six-plus hours of clinic work. To qualify for care at our clinics, a person’s income had to be below 400.000 dong, or about $18 a month. Many took the day off to access free health care but worried that without pay that day their family would not be able to buy food.

Upon ...

Swedish Chief Executive Kevin Brown to Take Top Post at Piedmont Health in Atlanta; Marcel Loh Named Interim Leader, National Search Begins


Kevin Brown


Marcel Loh

SEATTLE
, April 1, 2013 – Swedish Health Services today announced that Chief Executive Kevin Brown is leaving Swedish to take a new position as CEO of Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta.

The Art of Nursing Complements the Science of Medicine

I first had the opportunity to speak with Sue Averill, one of Swedish's many incredible nurses, last year. As you may have read in her prior post, she's doing incredible work to serve in communities around the world, and shared a story from her recent work in Haiti that illustrates the art of nursing:

Last month I traveled with other nurses and doctors to Port Au Prince, Haiti, with Project Medishare, working at Bernard Mevs, the only neuro-surgical and trauma facility in the region. Project Medishare’s goal is to train Haitian doctors and nurses and to establish sustainable programs so the facility can function independently beyond the departure of expats. Among my role as ER and Triage nurse, I was anointed “The Hysteric Whisperer."

Many teenage girls and young women came to the hospital via ambulance or private vehicle presenting in catatonic states, hyperventilating or as “post-ictal seizure” patients. We soon learned that these were anxiety/panic attacks. One teenage girl was brought with ambulance lights blazing and sirens blaring for "seizures" – but made eye contact and was purposefully moving around in the gurney - not in a post-ictal state. The doctor approached the patient and shouted, "Prepare to intubate!"

Intubation was certainly not necessary. Three minutes later, I held the girl’s hands and helped her off the gurney and onto a chair.

With an astounded look on his face, the doctor asked “How did you do that? That was magic!” I ...

Swedish's Employer Medical Assistance Program Featured in Puget Sound Business Journal Article

SEATTLE, April 30, 2012 - Swedish Employer Medical Assistance (EMA) was recently featured in a Puget Sound Business Journal (PSBJ) article published April 27 about the program and the services it provides to the cruise-ship, maritime and industrial companies throughout the region.

EMA Medical Director Ray Jarris, M.D., and Program Manager Laura Walden - along with a few EMA client representatives - were interviewed for the piece.

Happy Labor Day (and thank you to our employees)

For those who have the day off today, we hope you enjoy it! While Labor Day is traditionally celebrated as a day off of work for many people, remember that it shouldn’t be a day to forget your health:

Labor Day is also a great day to acknowledge and thank our employees for their tireless work year-round on behalf of our patients. To all of our employees - thank you for all that you do!

Making a difference, one nurse at a time

I recently had the opportunity to 'meet' one of the many great nurses at Swedish, Sue Averill. I say 'meet' because while I'm currently blogging from Seattle, she's volunteering her time in Guatemala and serving as a medical coordinator for a Doctors Without Borders project. Sue and another great nurse, Staci Kelley, are both ER nurses at Swedish Cherry Hill, Ballard, and Mill Creek. They started a non-profit organization three years ago to help nurses become involved in volunteer work at home and abroad. They offer a free directory of organizations using nurse volunteers that can be sorted to match nursing interests and skills to the needs. They also offer scholarships to help offset trip costs for nurses volunteering on international missions. 

I had the opportunity to chat online with Sue while she was in Guatemala to learn more about "One Nurse At A Time" and her passion for volunteer nursing:

You work as a nurse in Seattle, caring for patients in Swedish's emergency departments. What made you think about volunteering your extra time as a nurse?

Sue:
In 1999 a friend of mine was volunteering for Healing the Children and needed a Spanish speaking nurse to work recovery on a facial surgery team in Guatemala. I went and in one week, was hooked! I loved the work, the people, the process, the culture, the kids. I learned so much and gained far more than I gave. It was the hardest thing I’d ever done and by far, the most rewarding.



Sue Averill in Manila.

What sparked your interest in volunteering abroad? How did you find out about opportunities for nurses?

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