We were very proud to send this first medical mission trip to Vietnam. Our team included six medical providers, including a chiropractor. Our first day of clinic started early and we traveled about 30 minutes from our base to get there, which was located in a poorer district in Vietnam. A huge crowd of eager elderly patients greeted us when we arrived.
Many of our patients had degenerative diseases like osteoarthritis. Many complained of leg pains and backaches, so we were very fortunate to have a chiropractor on this trip. Each of the medical providers took the time to talk one-on-one with their patients through an interpreter and explain to them about their conditions. The patients showed their gratitude with genuine smiles.
Each clinic day, the crowds welcomed us and then we got to work. The intake team is the first stop for patients. Here, our team takes blood pressure on adult patients and records height and weight for the children, which is important for prescribing the correct dose of medication. We also find out their chief complaint – the main reason they came to see us.
The next stop for patients is the triage team. This team gives each patient a quick assessment, then uses the information from the intake team to help decide whether the patient is sick or mostly well, which determines the provider he or she will see.
Our community education team hands out multivitamins and teaches patients about sanitation and oral and hand hygiene. Simple hand washing can often prevent infectious diseases that the elderly are susceptible to, such as cholera and typhoid. The children love these sessions, and swarm us to get toothbrushes, bar soap, and balloons.
One of our days found us at a small village out in the beautiful countryside. A large crowd of people greeted us, most of them elderly. Many of them had difficulty walking, but they were determined to come see us. The local officials welcomed us warmly and held a short program in our honor.
Our pharmacy team spent the day busily handing out reading glasses. With an elderly patient population, everyone wanted glasses. We loved seeing their happy faces once they had picked out the perfect pair.
Our chiropractor saw a patient who had fractured her spine in an accident. She was able to offer some relief for the patient’s symptoms, plus we gave her some pain medication and taught her some stretches that will help her to stay more comfortable.
“We hope that even in our short stay, we were able to touch them with hands of compassion and heart of service.” – Maricar, IMR Team Leader and Volunteer Physician
One of our students, who had recently been accepted to medical school, spent part of the day shadowing one of our doctors. He helped take patient histories, confirmed diagnoses, listened for heart murmurs, and identified patients with gastritis. He also learned how to manually take a patient’s blood pressure, which is a fundamental tool of medicine he will be able to use throughout his career.
We served approximately 1,500 patients on this first trip for IMR to Vietnam. We saw many children, elderly patients, and veterans from the war in the 1960s. We diagnosed patients with tuberculosis, bronchitis, osteoarthritis, GERD, and various other conditions and illnesses. We also saw patients who had been disfigured and scarred from the atrocities of war.
We also hope we will be able to return again to provide care for the people of Vietnam!