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Vietnam: The Year in Review - 2018

Updated: Feb 17, 2019

Making a significant impact in the field of medicine is certainly one of our 2018 highlights! We had several medical teams serve in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Hue this year: two ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) teams led by Dr. Craig Hedges and Dr. Brent Senior got us launched in late February and into March. Craig and his teammate, Dr. Marty Trott, focused on the practitioner side of the field in Hanoi, and Brent led his team of 17 participants in a more (but not exclusively) academically oriented week in Ho Chi Minh City. Around 20 hospitals in the area sent staff to learn cutting-edge procedures in a 2-day “ENT Update” conference, and several of our volunteers also worked hands-on in the OR, focusing on training and coaching our Vietnamese colleagues.

Dr. Laura Bishop led our five-person OBGYN team to Hanoi and Hue in March, giving training in dealing with postpartum hemorrhage and preeclampsia, among other subjects. As her training is put into effect, the result will be fewer crises at childbirth and more safe deliveries—healthy moms and healthy babies.

Our dear colleague Dr. Walter Lee of Duke University also visited Ho Chi Minh City in June in order to co-present with Dr. Ky, one of our friends and former Fellows, a medical survey for a conference on “Translational Health and Science Technology for Developing Countries.” This initial survey is intended to help improve the quality of health care at over four dozen participating hospitals.

Working with children with cancer can be heartbreaking, but we have hope for better outcomes as pediatric oncologist Dr. Jim Miser brought three colleagues to help address procedures and safety concerns at partner hospitals in Hanoi. Jim accompanied Dr. Elaine Goehner, who served as our team leader, as well as wound care specialists Dr. Shelley Burdett-Taylor and Mary Ann Dilloway, who gave a three-day conference on the subject. There were a total of 15 team members, including five nursing students from Azusa Pacific University (APU), who stayed for observation and training for four weeks. Our indefatigable Kathie Cowie also spent several weeks in Hanoi, training nurses at Viet Duc Hospital and Hanoi Medical University.

Dr. Rick Kopke also came to Hanoi to discuss future partnerships in the area of cochlear implant. This program has been on hold for a couple of years, but we look to be poised for relaunch.

In addition to on-site training and service, in conjunction with APU our volunteers also hosted several nurse leaders in California for training in leadership and research methodology. Dr. Dayna Holt and her husband Glenn were the sharp end of the stick on this program, hosting our visitors in their home for four weeks at a time. One wonders, did they tire of pho?

What else? Our Business Teams attended a two-week series of presentations in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in April and again in November. One of the big changes for us was the addition of Foreign Trade University 2 to our Advanced Management Competency Certificate (AMCC) program, doubling our program size. Merrily Madero has assumed the leadership of the AMCC, another change. Loren Lancaster invested three months at Hanoi University, teaching on entrepreneurship and other topics, as well as participating in our Business Team presentations. We also held our first one-day Women's Conference, designed for single career women. We trust that it will be the first of many!

Another highlight was our summer exchange program, which saw seven students from Azusa Pacific University, as well as REI staff Chris Sayles and Gabrielle Lewis, partner with the University of Languages and International Studies (ULIS) for four weeks of cultural exchange in May-June. Our APU students were exceptionally eager to jump in feet first, and the results were outstanding!

Getting tired of reading? Hang in there—we also had a great year with our Exchange Program, hosting two students and one faculty member from Hanoi University in the USA, as well as medical fellows, including the nurses mentioned above!

We had two new resident staff arrive in Hanoi for a 2-year term of service. Alyssa Meyers and Florence Fong both arrived in August, to join team members Chris Sayles and Zonia Go. Alyssa is teaching at a new partner university, Hanoi National University of Education. REI staff Randy and Jill Vernon also agreed to move to Hanoi to lead and shepherd our resident staff. They arrived in September to begin a 5-year term of service.

Our Hanoi office has also experienced transition, as our office assistant Ngà left REI’s employment at the end of November to pursue a Master's degree in Public Health at APU. We are delighted that her successor, Hai, seems to be settling into her new position at the office very well indeed.

On a broader REI level, our entire global staff family gathered in Colorado in July for ten days of reconnecting and discussion of our global work. During that time our global staff met K. Douglas Erdmann, who was installed as REI’s new CEO and President in May. For the past few years, until early this year, former CEO and President Roderick Beidler had been on the hunt for his successor, as he eyed the upcoming date of his retirement. The search was rewarded when Douglas stepped up to assume that responsibility, and the official passing of the torch was made.

And a huge transition recently took place: Brian Teel, REI-Vietnam’s director, officially stepped down from that role on December 31, and Craig Slater assumed that responsibility as of January 1, 2019. Brian and Ginny will take a few months for rest and reevaluation, and most likely will continue serving with REI later in 2019 in a different capacity. We are most grateful for Brian and Ginny’s long tenure in this responsibility, and thankful too that Craig and his wife Kris are willing to step up to the plate!

So a long article this month, but hey, we only do this recap once a year. And we must add that YOU are one of our highlights, you who take a deep interest in our work, and partner together with us as we seek to build people to build nations!

Happy New Year!

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