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Group offers health expertise to Asia


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POSTED: Monday, March 02, 2009

Aloha Medical Mission volunteers provided medical care and surgery for thousands of patients on two recent missions to different parts of the Philippines.

Dr. Ignacio Torres led a five-day mission Jan. 16-23 to the second district of Ilocos Sur, including Candon City. Outreach medical service was jointly sponsored by the Candonians of Hawaii, House Deputy Speaker Eric Singson and Mayor Allen Singson of Candon City.

Dr. Carl Lum, veteran Aloha Medical Mission volunteer, led five surgeons and 10 nurses on a surgical mission to Laguna Feb. 6-15. He also shared some supplies with Torres, retired general surgeon, who was leading his first mission.

Lum said he was in Ilocos Norte last year and had some cases he could not finish, so he advised them to go to Candon City this year and gave notes on the patients to Torres.

Aloha Medical Mission volunteers pay all their own expenses and travel throughout the Pacific and Asia giving medical care to impoverished people with no access to doctors.

The Ilocos Norte team, including 14 doctors, six nurses and 12 lay volunteers, took 50 boxes of medicine and some medical equipment with them and donated what was left to the City of Candon Hospital.

They provided medical care for 2,379 outpatients and performed major and minor operations on more than 300 patients.

Singson, in a news release, said, "The medical mission was very successful and we thank the officers and staff of Aloha Medical Mission for coming here to serve our people."

Lum said his team did 106 major surgeries and 129 minor cases in five days. They were asked to return next year because 500 more patients are waiting for surgery, he said.

The Laguna patients were asked to take their own cots and blankets, he said.

"The J.P. Rizal Hospital's surgical ward was so overwhelmed with our large number of surgical patients that they had to sleep in the open corridor next to the ward and also in a large temporary tent set up on the hospital grounds," he said.

"The nurse's station consisted of a table next to the tent," he added.

Fortunately it did not rain, and none of the patients complained because "they were so happy to have their needed surgery done," Lum said.

The last time all of his patients were living in tents was in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, just after the 2004 tsunami that killed 250,000 people, he recalled. "We stood in a sea of mud while examining patients."