News: Cambodia, US personnel share surgical techniques
Story by Lance Cpl. Alyssa N. Gunton
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and U.S. Navy medical personnel conducted a subject-matter expert exchange Jan. 23-24 at the Phnom Penh Preah Ket Mealea Hospital during Cambodia Medical Exercise 13-1.
The RCAF and U.S. Navy have conducted medical exercises together since 2007. The purpose of this year’s exercise is to share expertise, ideas and further develop both militaries’ medical capabilities.
“I was curious to see their operating room and how things work in Cambodia,” said U.S. Navy Lt. Kim Nguyen, a general surgeon with 3rd Medical Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 35, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “Being here, we’re able to foster relationships and exchange information, experiences and expertise.”
With medical practices and techniques constantly changing, developing and improving, Nguyen and the other medical personnel feel the continued collaboration among health professionals is needed to remain on the cutting edge of healthcare.
“We are sharing how we create uses for our equipment to overcome (challenges),” said Royal Cambodian Army Col. Vuthy Long, a general surgeon at the hospital. “We may have old equipment, but it is still good and helps patients.”
On this particular day, the hospital did not have a chest tube apparatus and a patient needed one. In order to save the patient’s life, a Cambodian doctor improvised and constructed a water seal and suction device powered by a hydraulic pump, which was brought in from a local farm.
“It’s inspiring to see the doctors overcome the challenges here,” said Nguyen. “They are aware that their resources sometimes fall short, but they modify their care to adapt.”
This exercise is beneficial for many reasons, according to Cambodian military officials.
“This is a great opportunity (for our patients),” said RCA Lt. Gen. Sovan Ly, director of the hospital. “We can also practice our English, and develop friendships.”
The U.S. service members and RCAF medical personnel will continue to conduct subject-matter expert exchanges to increase Cambodian and U.S. medical capabilities, capacities and interoperability.
“I look forward to seeing the U.S. in the future because this is a good opportunity,” said Long. “We can work together and learn from each other and exchange experiences. We are in a developing country, and we can work with other countries to support our patients.”