Creating Sustainable Improvements in Patient Care at Vietnam National Children’s Hospital (VNCH)

Cami Rutledge loves her job. Having happily transitioned from accounting to nursing 17 years ago, she still finds great joy in her work. Yet, says Cami, “having been in the ER a long time, you get a little burned out.”

After spending two weeks with Global Healing in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) of Vietnam National Children’s Hospital (VNCH) in Hanoi, Cami returned to her job at UCSF with renewed appreciation for her calling.

“The experience with Global Healing totally rejuvenated my love for nursing,” Cami said. “I went there wanting to help. That’s why I became a nurse.”

Volunteers like Cami are crucial to Global Healing’s mission to train physicians, nurses, and medical laboratory professionals in lower income countries to implement current best practices for improved patient care.

Cami (in pink) assists with PICU morning rounds at Vietnam National Children’s Hospital.

Cami was especially drawn to the teaching aspect of Global Healing. “I wanted to be involved in an organization that goes into countries that don’t have enough resources,” Cami says, “and not only provides those needed resources but also empowers the local healthcare professionals to know, do, and teach current best practices. That’s how Global Healing creates sustainable improvements in patient care.”

In addition to supporting the VNCH in patient care, the Global Healing team held afternoon lectures, linking the topics to the treatment of patients they had seen during morning rounds.

“I had never been around so many people so eager to learn,” Cami says. “It was just amazing. And you knew they were going to make the most of what you taught them.”

During the lectures one VNCH staff in particular asked a lot of questions. “We called him Mr. Question,” Cami says with a laugh. “I loved him because he asked such great questions—I made sure I kept up with him. I’ve heard he has since moved up in the staff there.”

Cami (in dark blue) and the Global Healing team held afternoon lectures, linking the topics to the treatment of patients they had seen during morning rounds.

Teaching sessions included skills labs. “Often it’s basic stuff that makes a difference,” Cami says. “Washing your hands. Turning the patient. Knowing that if you brush an intubated patient’s teeth they are less likely to develop pneumonia. These things can get lost in the shuffle when a nurse is caring for eight patients, whereas here in the U.S. we’d have one or two.”

By training VNCH staff on such best practices, Global Healing is helping to elevate the standard of care— not only for those patients there now, but for the long term.

“It was so great to see the staff and the families care so much about their kids,” Cami says. She would love to return to Vietnam for another trip with Global Healing. “It just took my heart. Giving service fills your cup.”