Categories
Referring Hospital

Spotlight on …

Zambales, Philippines

We brought you news about Val Smith-Orr OAM in December and are following that up with more information on the clinic she runs in Castillejos in the province of Zambales, Philippines. Triple B Care Projects http://www.triplebcareprojects.org is an NGO, (Non-Government Organisation) providing international standards of treatment and care for children and adults with burns, cleft lip/palate and/or parasite infestation.

Triple B currently has two beds and one large mother and baby cot, with plans to upgrade to 4 or 5 beds plus a mother and baby cot.  In an average year (unfortunately, the last year has not been “average” due to Covid-19), the clinic treats around 50 burns cases; 40 “other wounds” for example diabetic feet, venous ulcers and pressure sores; 20 cleft lip and palate cases, and up to 300 de-worming cases. This is all done with ONE Doctor and TWO nurses! Val, one of the nurses, is a specialist nurse, who completed her post graduate training at the McIndoe Unit, Queen Victoria Hospital, in the UK. The clinic specialises in children as a priority but also accepts adults with burns and other wounds. Exciting plans are also afoot to build a larger facility which will allow for more patients and in addition, better rehabilitation facilities. Opportunities will also be available for international burns Surgeons, Nurses and allied health personnel to volunteer (see website link above).

Val was in Australia in 2009 when she was put in touch with the Trust, who had heard about the work Val was doing at Triple B and felt the clinic would benefit from the ability the Trust would give her to seek advice from Consultants, as the Trust have every modality of medicine covered.

Val said “the SCT is super important because it draws on knowledge from very experienced Consultants and Specialists enabling them to share that expertise with countries who don’t have that experience available to them”.

Any interesting cases you can share? We helped a 12-year-old boy who had been electrocuted; the local doctors were planning to amputate both his hands at the wrist, stating it was to cut out the infection in the burns and that it would be easier to obtain hand prosthetics. Limb salvage is not on any care list here and neither is it possible to get hand prosthetics! The boy was a champion basketball player for his school and his village. Fortunately, a British colleague and former Orthopaedic Surgeon, was visiting the Philippines and managed to persuade the doctors to allow me to take care of the boy. He was transferred to our clinic.  We couldn’t save ALL of his fingers, but he now has a pinch grip on both hands AND his whole palm and is back playing basketball again for the junior league!

How has the Trust helped Triple B Care Projects, Inc?  SCT has helped us with funding, with medical supplies, with great advice from Consultants and Specialists who volunteer for the Trust, and we have formed a lasting friendship with Lord and Lady Swinfen, who are two incredibly special people.

How would you like people to help the Trust? Obviously if people could donate funds to keep it going that would be ideal. Additionally, let other volunteers working in developing countries know that they exist so that others can benefit from their expertise.  It’s important to mention that not ALL advice can be strictly followed as there is a world of difference between medical practice in a developed country as opposed to a developing country; often there are very limited resources; but between our clinic and the Consultants and Specialists who we are referred to, we have become very creative, still using the expert advice but perhaps delivering it in a slightly different manner!

You can follow Triple B on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TripleBCareProjects Instagram triple_b_care_projects, and connect with Val Smith-Orr on Linkedin.

Val’s Professional badges

By Georgina Liley

(Georgina Liley is the eldest daughter of Pat and Roger Swinfen and runs the social media for the Trust. Georgina has been involved with the Trust since it’s inception and was a speaker at the 4th International Conference on Successes and Failures in Telehealth, Brisbane, 2004).

Categories
Our Consultants

Spotlight on

Emeritus Professor Geoffrey John Riley AM

MB  BS FRCPsych  FRACGP  FRANZCP  FACRRM

Honorary Senior Research Fellow

The Rural Clinical School of Western Australia

The School of Medicine

The University of Western Australia

We caught up with Professor Geoff Riley so that you can get to know some of the fantastic Consultants who volunteer their time with the Trust.

What attracted you to go into medicine?

Everyone assumed it was my maternal grandfather, who was indeed a good and inspirational man – Dean of the Medical School in Adelaide; President of the Royal Australian College of Surgeons; Queen’s Surgeon and Knight Bachelor – but actually it was my childhood GP (General Practitioner) who first inspired me. He was a kind man, and even as a child I knew this – that despite his formality and apparent sternness, I knew from his eyes that he was kind. I was intrigued that he asked all the right questions – that he seemed to know what was happening to me. How I felt. Of course, he did! Plus, on his desk he had a huge spider embedded in an even larger chunk of amber. I coveted it!

What branch of medicine are you in?

I had always intended to be a GP and having been born and partially raised in the Wheatbelt (in Western Australia) I was always going to be a country GP. But I won the prize in Psychiatry in my final year at medical school and was soon sent off to London to train as a Psychiatrist. I returned to Perth (Australia) after three years as a qualified Psychiatrist, entered the hospitals to consolidate physical medicine, and after a few more years, went bush as a GP and regional Psychiatrist. I had always been interested in the interaction of mind and body, and the Psychiatry was of course enormously useful in isolated General Practice. After 10 years I was invited to join the University Department of Psychiatry at The University of Western Australia, my alma mater, and ended up as Professor and Head of that department. By then I was also the Associate Dean for Student Affairs. I was subsequently appointed Head of the School of Primary, Rural, and Aboriginal Health Care (effectively the Head of General Practice), and also Head of the Rural Clinical School of Western Australia for seven years. Finally, I spent a year as the interim Dean of the Faculty of Medicine before retiring.

How long have you been involved with the Trust?

I’ve been involved with the Trust for over 17 years – It seemed like such a good idea and thought I might be useful with my experience of Rural and Remote Medicine. The efficiency of the system with which the Trust triages cases and refers them through to Consultants has amply demonstrated that it is both simple for the doctors to use, and highly valued.

Why do you think the Trust is important?

Because it fills a gap – and the subsequent development and demand for the program clearly demonstrated its utility. It provides support to isolated doctors usually in the most medically under-serviced parts of the globe. The UK has always been particularly good at reaching out to poorer countries, particularly in Africa. I was exposed to this in the laboratory in London, where a number of neighbouring labs were developing technology for transportable versions of medical tests that didn’t require electricity, such as blood tests. Rural and Remote Medicine is different and difficult, and the Trust was doing something about it. And doing it very well!

Any interesting cases you can share?

Three come to mind. Firstly, a deeply traumatised teenager surrounded by bombing in Yemen.

Secondly, a villager with untreated schizophrenia in Nepal, a day’s walk in the mountains from the Char Bhanjyang Centre for Health, stands out precisely because of its banality. All he needed was cheap antipsychotic medication, which was unavailable to him before the clinic was established. As the saying goes, “a village looks after its ‘mad’”, but the medication provided by the Trust relieves his distress and makes him more manageable for his family and the village during flareups of his psychosis.

Finally, a case of “mass hysteria” (characterised mostly by fainting) in a whole class of girls in a Nigerian village school threatened by militia soldiers. Helping the overwhelmed doctor, nurses and teachers, to understand what was going on, and to be calm themselves, was probably the key, so that they could reassure parents that the girls would settle when separated and taken home to their families. And that they would recover completely.

Your most rewarding case?

Rather than particular patient ‘cases’, perhaps one of the most satisfying aspect of the work has been supporting the doctors, and specifically, educating some individual doctors through repeated contacts.

The work of the Trust is predicated on an overriding ethical issue: the lack of even basic healthcare for so many communities around the globe. Accordingly, working for the Trust constantly throws up examples of this challenge. Furthermore, the doctors are often under-trained, and routinely under-resourced, as they struggle to provide care to their vulnerable patients. That’s why getting to know them over a series of cases has been so rewarding.

How would you like people to help the Trust?

Obviously, people with expertise can simply sign up to help. All organisations need ‘untied’ donations – money which is not specified for a particular purpose, so that organisations like the Trust can use them to cover the less visible operating expenses, as well as direct grants for desperately needed equipment or treatments that the Trust inevitably becomes aware of.

By Georgina Liley

(Georgina Liley is the eldest daughter of Pat and Roger Swinfen and runs the social media for the Trust. Georgina has been involved with the Trust since it’s inception and was a speaker at the 4th International Conference on Successes and Failures in Telehealth, Brisbane, 2004).

Categories
Referring Hospital

Spotlight on …

Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation – Saipan

Following up on our earlier post about the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation (CHCC) we thought we’d give you some more information about this great hospital, which is located in Garapan, on Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands.  Saipan is the largest of these islands and is a commonwealth of the USA.  According to www.huffpost.com/life/travel “Saipan is the most beautiful place in America you’ve never heard of” – okay so now we’ve got your attention and you’ve added it to your holiday list, but you’ll have to get in the queue because as soon as the borders open and we’ve all been vaccinated, it’s in my travel plans.  Just think of all the lucky medical staff who get to work there!  And if you would like to join them, have a look at their recruiting website http://www.saipandoctors.com.  They’re on Facebook as well: https://www.facebook.com/cnmichcc/

The hospital opened in 1986 and currently has 86 beds.  There are 85 physicians and midlevel staff (nurse practitioner/midwife).  The CHCC has specialties which include Internal Medicine, Paediatrics, Nephrology, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, General Surgery, Anaesthesiology, Orthopaedics, Oncology and Radiology https://www.chcc.gov.mp/.

Due to the remote location of Saipan, it is very difficult or impossible to arrange specialty help for those patients who need care, which is not available locally, which is why the CHCC approached the Swinfen Charitable Trust (SCT) for help in 2019.  Staff at the CHCC say that the SCT fulfills a critical need by filling the gap of patient care needs which are not locally available.  This is where the simplicity of telemedicine steps into play, with the free medical lifeline offered by SCT and the consultants from all over the world who generously give their help for free.  These consultants provide a critical backup for the skills of the CHCC Physicians in managing complex medical issues.

Cases that have been referred on to SCT by Physicians at the CHCC have included assisting with the care of a patient with a somewhat obscure liver ailment; treatment of dermatology problems that were not clearly obvious; assisting with the interpretation of cardiac pacemaker analysis; management of severe multifactorial cardiac disease; and other issues too many to mention.

We asked our contact at CHCC “How would you like people to help the Trust?”  He replied that “Increasing our consultant base is important but contributing money to keep the trust alive is a more realistic request”.   On that note we’ll give you a link to our donation page! https://www.justgiving.com/swinfenct.

Map courtesy of https://saipansnaps.com/pages/locations

By Georgina Liley

(Georgina Liley is the eldest daughter of Pat and Roger Swinfen and runs the social media for the Trust. Georgina has been involved with the Trust since it’s inception and was a speaker at the 4th International Conference on Successes and Failures in Telehealth, Brisbane, 2004).

Categories
System Operator

Meet the Team

Robyn Carr

What attracted you to go into medicine?

My mother was a nurse, my father was very ill at a stage when I was young – while sitting with him after school watching the nurses I became interested in following a nursing career.

What branch of medicine were you in?

I was involved mainly with cardio-thoracic theatres up to and including heart transplants. The final ten years of hospital work was as a manager in the hospital group’s IT department. This also led to becoming President of the world IMIA-NI group (International Medical Informatics Association – Nursing Informatics).

Why did you get involved with the Trust:

During a nursing informatics IT conference I was  approached to see if I knew anyone who could help. Following investigation regarding requirements, and having retired, I chose to take up the Swinfen Charitable Trust southern hemisphere administrator role myself.

I perceived the opportunities that SCT could bring to a wider range of countries especially those remotely positioned and with sparse professional medical support.

Why do you think the Trust is important?

There are specialists world-wide willing to share their technical medical knowledge to doctors who do not have specialist medical support. Embracing the specialist skills and linking them with mainly singular doctors is a superb way to ensure that those In poor and remote countries can obtain a greater degree of care. All this in a swift time frame.

Can you tell us about some of your memorable cases?

  1. Five year old twin girls, One was completely normal at birth however, by the age of five one of them started to grow breasts. This caused the mother to be apprehensive regarding sending them to school. The chosen SCT specialist was able to identify the cause and advise on treatment thus frustrating any further mammary growth.
  2. The speed of the SCT system (and the coincidental involvement with computers) enabled a system operator and specialist response time of nine minutes. This was for a case referred by a  doctor on an extremely remote Melanesian island.

How would you like people to support the Trust?

Give us feedback about how we’ve helped you or a patient which will help to attract sponsorship throughout the world.

By Georgina Liley

(Georgina Liley is the eldest daughter of Pat and Roger Swinfen and runs the social media for the Trust. Georgina has been involved with the Trust since its inception and was a speaker at the 4th International Conference on Successes and Failures in Telehealth, Brisbane, 2004).

Categories
System Operator

Meet the Team

Lynda Bardell

What attracted you to go into medicine?     

I was inspired by an older friend who was already a qualified nurse and I admired her air of knowledge, confidence and sophistication. 

What branch of medicine are you in? 

     I commissioned in to the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps (QARANC) following Lady Pat Swinfen. The work and assignments were immensely varied, and mostly really interesting and great fun. I worked in operating theatres for quite a few years and saw quite a few cases of battle trauma when deployed on Operations. 

Why did you get involved with the Trust?

     I experienced first-hand the marvellous work of the Trust when Roger and Pat came to Nepal to visit some rural clinics and hospitals who were to use the system to help their patients. I was posted there at the time. 

Why do you think the Trust is important?

     Sick people in very remote and hostile areas can benefit so much from the assistance they receive from our fantastic consultants. It’s swift and it’s free. 

Any interesting cases you can share with us?                                               

     It’s very satisfying when patients with complex illnesses are given great advice from consultants who come together to assist, through the Swinfen Charitable Trust. 

     Your most rewarding case?

     All cases are rewarding when the referrer is so happy and especially when they report back that a patient who was once so ill but is now doing so well. 

How would you like people to help the Trust?         

Spread the word far and wide about how great telemedicine can be. And volunteer to be a medical consultant or system operator for the Trust. 

By Georgina Liley

(Georgina Liley is the eldest daughter of Pat and Roger Swinfen and runs the social media for the Trust. Georgina has been involved with the Trust since it’s inception and was a speaker at the 4th International Conference on Successes and Failures in Telehealth, Brisbane, 2004).

Categories
System Operator

Meet the Team

PAT SWINFEN

What attracted you to go into medicine?     

It was the opposite of what my father wanted me to do! I wanted to get some independence.

What branch of medicine are you in? 

I’m a retired registered nurse and was an Officer in Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps (QARANC).

Why did you set up the Trust:

Roger and Pat were volunteering at The Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed at Mirpur, Dhaka, Bangladesh because of Roger’s work as a fundraiser for a British charity specialising in spinal injuries in 1995.  Roger was trying to raise money for CRP and we travelled to CRP in 1995 to meet the director Valerie Taylor and I realised that Valerie needed specialist advice for the severe spinal cases. Roger gave an address at the Royal Society of Medicine at a conference, and there we meet Colonel David Vassallo who showed Pat and Roger the first Telemedical program he was building to obtain medical advice from a distance – he offered this to Pat free of charge to help the Doctors in the developing world. Pat and Roger then started the Trust in 1998 with 8 consultants, all military to begin with and Valerie and CRP were their first case in 1999. The Trust then grew by word of mouth.

In 2004 Pat and Roger went into Iraq after being invited by a British Army doctor at Shaibah Military Base to help set up Telemedical links for the local Iraqi communities to access urgent medical help and to support the re-building of Iraq. 50 hospitals with referring doctors came on initially from Iraq.

Why is the Trust important? 

It supports local communities in the developing world to access world class health care, often with cases which otherwise would be abandoned due to lack of available health. It supports learning, by teaching the doctors in situ how to handle these cases and therefore progressing their knowledge and that can then be passed on across their own country – all of that with a very low carbon footprint! It helps people from very low income communities get healthcare for free; it supports our specialists doctors by widening their knowledge with cases that they would not see in the developed world. We now have 78 countries and over 500 specialists who work with the Trust.

Can you tell us about some of your Memorable Cases?                                           

2005: Iraq, a 35year old man was shot in Basra, he had developed necrotising fasciitis by the time the Trust was informed and had been left to die – it took 4 specialists, one in South Africa, one in the USA, one in the UK and one in Australia to treat him, he recovered and went back to his family – for free.

In Tristan da Cunha, a Bulgarian Seaman, who spoke no English, was brought into the port on a cargo ship having fallen 10 metres into the hull, he had broken his pelvis, spine – facial bones, basically smashed to pieces and had internal bleeding – the local doctor was directed by a UK Trauma specialist and the Bulgarian was eventually stabilized and sent out on another ship to Cape Town where he was able to access further medical care.

In Tibet, a missionary developed a severe Inner Ear infection which spread into her mastoid bone, it took 8 specialists and the SCT arranged to get her to Thailand for further recuperation.      

How would you like people to help the Trust?         

Spread the Word! We would like to help more people, and although we are currently in 34/53 Commonwealth countries, we know we could help more, and therefore we would like more countries – not just the Commonwealth to participate.

By Georgina Liley

(Georgina Liley is the eldest daughter of Pat and Roger Swinfen and runs the social media for the Trust. Georgina has been involved with the Trust since it’s inception and was a speaker at the 4th International Conference on Successes and Failures in Telehealth, Brisbane, 2004).