Rotarians help fund pediatric unit in Vietnam
Rotarian Forrest Lloyd (right) and his daughter, Michelle, at Ho Chi Minh Cancer Hospital's new pediatric intensive-care unit. Photo courtesy of Forrest Lloyd
According to the International Union Against Cancer, in developing countries, children with cancer have a survival rate of less than 50 percent, compared to 80 percent in developed countries. Rotarian Forrest Lloyd spent three years trying to help bridge that gap.
Last year, Lloyd, of the Rotary Club of China Lake, California, USA, and other project volunteers unveiled a US$650,000, four-bed pediatric intensive care unit at the Ho Chi Minh Cancer Hospital in Vietnam. The new facility is the only ICU for children with cancer in southern Vietnam.
Lloyd first learned of the project, which was launched by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and other organizations, during a visit to Vietnam to seek out a potential Rotary project. In Ho Chi Minh City, he toured the hospital with Dr. Andrew Tsang and Michael Howard, representatives of the Canadian group, who explained the chamber’s two-year-old mission to implement a pediatric ICU.
Paramount to the project’s eventual success, Lloyd says, was Tsang’s inventory of needed medical equipment and the relationships that the chamber had developed with doctors and advocates. When Howard introduced him to hospital staff and others involved, Lloyd says his Rotary affiliation helped add momentum to the process.
“Rotary is an international organization with an infrastructure that makes these projects possible,” says Lloyd. “The outcome depended on the credibility of the organization and the relationships that can come about from the Rotary structure.”
That structure included Sue McKinney, who became the on-site project coordinator. A member of the Rotary Club of Oakland Sunrise, California, McKinney spends 10 months of each year in Vietnam.
“I drive past the hospital on my way to work, and I see several thousand people waiting for their relatives who are inside, hoping to receive treatment,” says McKinney, who made presentations to donors in both Vietnam and the United States. “The hospital is strained to the maximum.”
She also generated volunteer support from Assist International, a nonprofit organization that installs medical equipment worldwide. According to Bob Pagett, the organization’s president and a member of the Rotary Club of Scotts Valley, Calif., the six-member Assist team donated its time and spent more than a week installing equipment and training hospital staff on the ICU’s pumps, monitors, ventilators, and ultrasound technology.
Tsang, the project’s original visionary, says the ICU is a large step forward. “The hospital is greatly appreciative [because] they face increasing bed shortages and new patient visits. This opens the door for more international collaboration with a 30-year-old hospital that needs assistance,” he says.
Lloyd headed up the fundraising efforts of 13 Rotary clubs in California and Washington. The multipartner effort also received contributions, medical equipment, and other support from the Rose C. Stone Foundation, Americans for International Aid and Adoption, the Sponsorial Association for Poor People, and corporate partners.