Cheryl and Elisa took all of the information provided by Dr. Bill Housworth during the visit and added to what we have learned over the past 9 years and what we know we need to research and developed a draft plan. We know that
1-We want to provide continued support to students in Cambodia who are studying in the health care fields.
2-It is important to have continued follow up, education, and training to patients who have diabetes and hypertension.
Our plan is to determine what we need to set up and operate a clinic in Kratie, including a budget and fund raising plan. Stay tuned as we figure it out in the next few months.
Dr. Piseth joined Cheryl and Meghan for the clinics during the January trip. He is a relatively new physician who works the Kratie Provincial Hospital. They were very impressed with his kindness to the patients at the clinics. He donated our left over medications and supplies to patients who needed them. We hope to work with him again in the future.
The week went quickly- returning to the same province and towns allows us to see what has changed over the years and what stays the same. Always lovely, the expansive Mekong River and the gorgeous sunsets, scooter traffic on the road along the river and the energy of the market. Many changes at the hospital compound as well as the Cambodian government invests in health care. Cheryl and Meghan were impressed with the amount of infrastructure that is being built in the province. There is emphasis on ob/gyn care as well as a focus on malaria.
Bill Housworth provided a great deal of information on the steps that are needed to be appropriately registered in Cambodia to provide medical care, guidance on the new protocols for treatment instituted by the government and many details on how he is setting up the pediatric clinic. He also provided 2 Cambodian physicians who worked with Cheryl and Meghan during the 3 clinics they held during the week. They saw first-hand what we do in our clinics and the protocols that Cheryl has developed. They also participated in seeing patients.
Sunset from the hotel
Since this was a short trip, Cheryl and Meghan set up the clinics while they were there. They worked directly with the leadership of the Island (we have gone there for the past 4 years) to set up a clinic for the residents. There is no health care on the island which is a ferry ride across the Mekong from Kratie. The island is one of our favorite locations and we have always had great support from the Chief. No one gets tired of that moto ride across the sand and up the hill all the while clutching bags of supplies. The island is peaceful, no cars and mostly people walking or riding bikes and many chickens crossing the road.
They also held two clinics at the Kratie Hospital. Again, the focus was hypertension and diabetes. Can you just imagine heading down to the local radio station to make an announcement about the clinics to everyone in the community? Who knows how many people will come? Amazingly, the small but mighty Team saw 132 patients at the Kratie Clinics and 131 at the Island clinic for a total of 263 people!
Our next steps are to develop a plan for the remainder of 2017 and onward and to come up with a fund raising plan. We will consider setting up a clinic to provide care to adult patients with diabetes and hypertension and have been told that it should be located near the Kratie Hospital. We have some ideas for potential locations and feel that one of the physicians that worked with Cheryl and Meghan is a potential candidate to be our part time physician.
On the road again, heading north to Kratie. Bunly, our translator and CMEH Foundation in country program director drove us to Kratie in his uncle’s lexus Rx300. Yes, we traveled in style. Bunly did not relax once the whole 5 hour drive. As he gripped the steering wheel and hit the horn, standard Cambodian driving technique, we sailed along the country side. It is harvest season for the rice farmers; a good harvest is expected this year as there was plenty of rain.
Upon arriving in Kratie, the dreaded pill count began. We count our large bottle of pills into packets of 30 or 60 to distribute during the clinics. Tedious work! It was interrupted by Dr. Bill Housworth, our new in country program development contact. He and his family have lived in Cambodia for 8 years and developed a top notch pediatric hospital program in Siem Reap, which is near Anchor Wat. He has now taken on the large task of doing the same in the Kratie area. We are hoping to work with him and get his insights on how we can incorporate our interest in diabetes and hypertension into his program. Our mutual goal is to move the quality of medical care forward in this country. After a great meeting, it was back to the dreaded pills.
For dinner we went to a favorite restaurant we call the “kayak place”. It also doubles as the local place to go on kayak trips to see the fresh water dolphin. Most businesses here have more than one focus and this one attracts European and American tourists. Cheryl had a fresh salad which made Megan shutter afraid that she would come down with some form of travelers’ diarrhea. Do not trust the ice! Fortunately, no ill side effects.
Our other favorite restaurants, all named for some local event we’ve witnessed over the years are the “rat”, dolphin, “snake” and of course Red Sun Falling which is named after the amazingly beautiful red sunsets only seen here overlooking the Mekong River.
After dinner, more pills and a good night sleep. We are 14 hours ahead of the USA with totally flipped sleep/wake cycles. By the way, Bunly, after the harrowing drive, slept around the clock for 11 to 12 hours.
Tomorrow is planning our clinics for the week! We are excited to work with Bill and Lori Housworth.
Cheryl and Megan left Denver heading off to Cambodia on Eva Air via Taipei. On the leg to Taipei-Here we go again! ” Medical emergency, we need a doctor” Last year same time, same flight similar situation. This time it was a 27 year old with syncope, unresponsive and hypotensive. Megan, our fabulous ED nurse, took charge and got the IV on the first stick. After 2 bags of fluid and still with a low blood pressure, our patient was awake and feeling better. No more fluids in the emergency kit so we watched him and he gradually improved and recovered after several hours. It was most likely a reaction to alcohol as he had a small glass of wine- not uncommon reaction in this population.
Arrived in Phnom Penh and much to our surprise, they had renovated the airport. Now nice organized lines and no chaos as you get your entry visa, etc. There is even a duty free shop in the area. I miss the old days with the chaos.
Our 2 longstanding translators, Bunly and Dan, met us at the airport and took us to our favorite places which included the Russian Market, Mekong Quilts and Artesian de Anchor for a bit of shopping.
In the evening, the we met up with our 4 medical students who were our translators last year. Navit, Nareach and Tong are all in the hospital now doing their clinical rotations and taking night call. Rithy has graduated and studying for his boards. They are all well and happy- so great to see them all and see how well they are doing.
We had a lovely sunset beer on the roof of a restaurant (Phnom Pehn is on the Mekong River) and Megan got her foot massage to end our first wonderful day back in Cambodia.
Off to Kratie again! Cheryl and Megan are hitting the road for a week in Cambodia to meet with our new sponsors, Drs. Bill and Lori Housworth. We are delighted to be working with them on integrating our adult clinics with their bricks and mortar children’s clinic that they just opened in Kratie. The Housworths have the backing of the Kratie Provincial Health Director and the Cambodia government. They are committed to education for clinic and hospital staff, as well as patients and their families. This is a great match with our mission.
Cheryl and Megan are also planning to do a few clinics to reconnect with long term patients, many who have come to see us year after year. Bunly Kep, our in-country Program Director and our sponsored doctoral student, will join Cheryl and Megan to translate and to handle logistics for this short visit. Stay tuned to the blog to follow their adventures.
Thank you to our key sponsor, The Gourley Family Foundation. Bob and Marlese have once again stepped up to help us with our clinic logistics offering not only financial support but a great deal of moral support. Various family and friends have also contributed to our work. LifeHealth LLC has supplied needed medical supplies for the first clinics in January.