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Hawaii Section Fellows aid typhoon victims in the Philippines

 Drs. Shieh and Lee

Drs. Shieh and Lee at an improvised ob-gyn clinic in the town of Daanbantayan in the Philippines

 

Lori E. Kamemoto, MD, MPH, Hawaii Section chair

When Thomas Shieh, MD, Guam Medical Association president, learned a category 5 super typhoon had hit the Philippines, he contacted colleagues in Guam and Hawaii to find a way to help. Ten days later, he landed in the island country with a medical mission team, including Hoa Nguyen, MD, a family physician from Guam, and John Lee, MD, an ob-gyn from Hawaii. The mission was a joint effort between the Guam Medical Association and a Philippine hospital, St. Luke’s Medical Center in Global City.

Typhoon victims wait for assistance at the medical mission site.

 

Typhoon Yolanda hit the Philippines from November 2 to 11, taking nearly 6,000 lives, which makes it one of the biggest and deadliest typhoons in recorded history. The town of Daanbantayan, the team’s mission site, was completely devastated. There was no electrical power and people desperately needed medical care.

Dr. Shieh stated that the biggest challenge was ensuring safety on the ground. The group traveled with six guards. On their way to Daanbantayan, the physicians encountered many children holding signs with messages relaying their need for food, water, and medical care. The children were hoping to get direct aid to their area.

At the mission site, Dr. Shieh noted, “There were many pregnant women with no prenatal care. They had no prenatal vitamins and were lucky to have one meal a day. Many were unsure of their due dates and had never heard their baby’s heart beat or had an ultrasound.”

Improvised Philippines Clinic

Dr. Shieh examines a pregnant woman at the improvised ob-gyn clinic.

 

In two days, Drs. Shieh and Lee provided care for more than 200 pregnant women and 100 gynecologic patients. They diagnosed two patients with twins on their portable ultrasound and advised them to relocate to an area with a community hospital as their hospital had been destroyed. A breech presentation at term was also diagnosed, and the doctors performed a successful external cephalic version. The findings of Drs. Shieh and Lee assisted the overwhelmed local providers in caring for their pregnant population.

The medical mission team provided much needed care to more than 2,700 patients. When asked what made their mission a success, Shieh said, “The key was sending Dr. Nguyen to scout the area of the mission first. We also had the help of St. Luke’s Medical Center, which provided staff and transportation. The rest was all heart from our physician volunteers.”

Dr. Shieh and the rest of the team plan to return for a second and third mission in the near future.

 

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