A doctor and two nurses from South Tees were part of a recent trip to the Battambang Referral Hospital with a charity that was set up on Teesside.
Transform Healthcare Cambodia was set up to respond to the training needs of medical and nursing colleagues in Cambodia. In the late 1970s Cambodia suffered under the Pol Pot regime where many doctors and educators were either killed or put to work on the land. Since that time the country has been rebuilding its health services.
Paediatric doctor Daisy Taylor is one of the founder members of the charity. She has worked in paediatrics and neonatology at The James Cook University Hospital. The trip was poignant for Daisy as this is the last trip she will make with the charity before starting work in The Gambia for 12 months, from this September.
Daisy, with her husband Will – also a doctor, made one of the early trips to Cambodia to assess the training needs priorities. This work set the direction of the charity.
Travelling to Battambang for the first time were trauma nurses Ella Parker and Megan McCallion.
Ella said: “It was an amazing experience that I won’t forget. Although the people at Battambang Hospital do not have much they make use of what they have. They are all so lovely and welcoming and are keen to interact. The experience will make me more grateful for what I have.
“Through the week myself and Megan were working within the trauma department. In the morning we went onto the ward and went on ward round, dressing changes, theatres and generally offered help or observed.
“In the afternoon we were teaching the nurses and paramedics on topics which the hospital had requested from us. This was a learning curve in itself for both myself and Megan as we had not really done this before however we felt we worked really well as a team. All of the staff we taught to were very keen to learn and volunteered for the practical activities which we did.”
As well as time in the hospital, Ella and Megan had time to take in many cultural aspects of the country.
Ella added: “I would recommend anyone to go as it is a great experience and gives you an understanding of other cultures. It also makes you thankful for what you have.”
Megan said: “I loved every minute of the experience I had in Cambodia. The work and effort put in by the Transform Healthcare Cambodia team is invaluable and it was a pleasure to accompany them on this trip.
“The staff and patients in the hospital are incredibly grateful and staff are keen to learn. It’s important to recognise that this hospital, through hard work, has improved greatly yet still has so far to go.
A place in my heart
“The work undertaken by Transform Healthcare Cambodia is so important to ensure this hospital continues to develop. I’ll forever hold a place in my heart for the people of Cambodia as every person I met was so humble and friendly.
“It was also humbling to build relationships with patients and families who live in and around the hospital, who were so grateful and pleasant despite the deprivation they suffer with daily.
“I wish to return to Cambodia again with Transform Healthcare Cambodia in the future.”
Daisy Taylor said: “On this trip we had some well attended paediatric teaching sessions on fluid management, gastroenterological presentations and principles of ventilation.
“The hospital’s senior clinicians really engaged with these topics and it sparked some lively debate which really helped everyone’s understanding.
“It was a privilege to accompany our Khmer colleagues on ward rounds in the morning and see a real mix of all the common presentations that Becky Naples (a paediatric doctor from Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary) and I are very used to seeing. As well as things like chest infections we saw children with tropical diseases – great learning for us!
“I loved spending time with all the Khmer colleagues I have worked with over the years who I now class as my friends. The hospital has changed significantly over the last six years and my life has changed with the addition of two children and stepping up to be a registrar; the changes seemed to mirror each other!
“I made the most of the downtime as well to visit all of my favourite haunts, sample lots of the local cuisine and soak up the sunshine.
“It was very rewarding trip to lead as the team were fantastic with a range of backgrounds and previous experiences. It was great to see people get stuck in, overcome challenges and fall in love with Battambang.”
To find out more about the charity, visit www.facebook.com/transformhealthcarecambodia.
If you’re interested in applying to join a future trip please visit http://www.transformhealthcarecambodia.org.uk