How Bandages, Toothpaste, Tongue Depressors, and More Than 1,000 Volunteer Hours Made a Difference in Da Nang
To help support the Vietnam Health Clinic, an annual medical mission, Valley Medical Center donated used scrubs and recently expired medical supplies (bandages, surgical tape, gloves, gauze, alcohol pads, tongue depressors, toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc.). Valley Prescription Pad Pharmacy South pharmacist, Thai Tran, helped coordinate the donation and spent two weeks as a VHC health professional volunteer in July. Thai was accompanied by many other professional colleagues, most from Washington state, including physicians, dentists, other pharmacists, optometrists, nurses and interns. Many other volunteers served as well, mostly University of Washington students interested in healthcare professions.
In just two weeks in Vietnam, including set up and travel time, Thai and his VHC volunteer colleagues served more than 2000 patients during eight, very busy clinic days in rural areas around Da Nang.
Here’s how Thai describes a typical clinic day:
“On clinic days, we loaded our buses with all the equipment and supplies and headed out around 7 AM. On average, it took us about two hours to get to a clinic site. Once to the site, the team:
- Checked in patients, triaged and took vitals
- Sent patients to medical, dental or optometric stations
- Gave patients medications and consultation
- Gave patients useful gifts (a bag of rice, mosquito net, sunglasses, toothbrush, toothpaste and a stuffed animal if patient was pediatric)
“Patients ranged from less than two years of age to over 90 years, with various conditions, such as hypertension, headache, upper respiratory infection, GERD, H-Pylori, open-wound infection, insomnia, toothache (dentists pulled a lot of teeth), eye infection, glaucoma etc. With donated funds, the VHC team bought most of the medications in Vietnam with the hope that patients would continue their regimen months later by being able to get the same medications available at Vietnamese pharmacies.
“This was a very eye-opening, fulfilling and meaningful medical mission for all of the volunteers and health professionals. Most of the volunteers were pre-medical, pre-dental, pre-nursing or pre-pharmacy students at the University of Washington. Their first-hand experience in these different areas enabled them to have a better understanding of their field of interest. They were all equally rotated to different stations to have exposure to all professions.”
Thai notes that the mission was also a life-changing experience for many, helping them to realize how privileged we are to live in a developed country where healthcare is more accessible and finding clean water is not a challenge. Thai is appreciative of the many Prescription Pad Pharmacy and Anticoagulation Clinic staff who attended a spring VHC fundraising dinner to finance supplies for this summer’s mission. Thai says, “One hundred percent of the money raised each year goes to buying medicine, gifts and additional medical/dental/optometric supplies for the mission. All volunteers and health professionals pay for their own airline tickets, hotel stay, food and other travel expenses.”