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  • Writer's pictureREI

And the beat goes on...

Updated: Feb 13, 2019

Happy New Year! REI celebrated the entrance of 2019 by sending a medical team (two teams, actually) to Hanoi in January who launched this year’s medical programs. Dr. Will Choe led a team of experienced cardiac electrophysiologists to three hospitals (Bach Mai, E Hospital, and Hanoi Medical University Hospital) in order to help assess their potential needs and provide training for hospital staff working in that area. Will’s team was accompanied by an ICU team, led by colleague Dr. Kelly Greene.This team also served at E Hospital and Hanoi Medical University Hospital (HMUH).

You may ask, what is cardiac electrophysiology (EP)? Think irregular heartbeats, hearts racing out of control, hearts beating too slowly, and pacemakers. Approximately five percent of the population has a heart irregularity, which can lead to stroke or heart attack. Picture a catheter inserted into an artery or vein, guiding the catheter into the heart, and then mapping the electrical currents of the heart in order to determine what is necessary to normalize the heartbeat. This may involve ablations (non-surgically destroying cells within the heart which are causing arrhythmia) or installing a pacemaker.

While treatments for arrhythmia take place in Vietnam, there is still much need for development in this field. A full understanding of the anatomy of the heart is foundational to understanding its electrical function, and so Dr. Choe spent a morning at HMUH overseeing a pig heart dissection (the human heart and pig heart are surprisingly similar). He and his electrophysiology team (Dr. Sri Sundaram, Dr. Kousik Krishman, Dr. Jared Bunch, Dr. Norman Wang, Mrs. Jena Humer, Dan Watson and spouse Maggy, and Beau Adamson) also spent time in the Cath Lab, discussing and performing procedures with the purpose of bringing greater understanding and training to our Vietnamese colleagues. Several lectures on the subject were also presented to doctors and students. And along the way, the first ablation ever performed at HMUH was successfully completed!

Our second team, was led by Dr. Kelly Greene and accompanied by Dr. Erin Riggle, and Nurse Practitioner Barb Chesnutt, focused on Intensive Care issues. Dr. Kelly’s son Bob also accompanied this team as they emphasized early mobilization therapy for patients in the intensive care unit, particularly those who are mechanically ventilated. Patients who get up and out of bed to stand or walk, or who simply sit on the edge of the bed and swing their legs, typically recover much more quickly than immobile patients. And they have a lower incidence of pneumonia and other infections.

Our partners at HMUH were willing to give this a try, and the results were nothing less than spectacular. One elder patient, not expected to live, was especially helped through mobility therapy and a medication adjustment by the team. Two days after this change in regimen, and the patient was extubated, sitting unaided, and his prognosis for leaving the ICU was good.

We are eager to see what improvement in outcomes will occur in the future as the EP and ICU teams continue to serve in Vietnam over the next few years. Better outcomes, less time in hospitals, and better overall quality of health and life – all tremendous outcomes! This is, in fact, a significant part of why we continue to serve in Vietnam, and continue building people to build nations!

Chúc Mừng Năm Mới! Happy New Year!

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