We are international lifesavers.
Every January, a team of physicians, dentists, optometrists, nurses, prosthetists, students and other allied health professionals travel to various locations in the Philippines to complete a five-day mission.
Medical services are composed of primary care, various surgical specialties, ophthalmology and dentistry. Health education for patients and continuing medical education for practitioners are also provided during these missions.
Volunteer and Patient Count Over the years
Report by Fely Lao, MD
The 34th annual Philippine Medical Society of Northern California (“PMSNC”) Medical Mission was held on January 20-24, 2020 in Bacoor City, Province of Cavite. We thank Congressman Strike Revilla for the generosity and hospitality. The yearlong preparation for the one-week event was a joint effort between the Medical Mission coordinating team and the efficiency of the Bacoor-based team led by Chief-of-Staff Miss Alda Lou Cabrera, her assistant Khei Sanchez and aides Pau and Beth. Their tremendous help and their daily presence during mission week showed their commitment to the success of the event.
This year, our team had a total of 148 volunteers from the US, composed of 28 physicians, 36 nurses, 2 dentists, 2 optometrists, 2 allied health professionals, 23 students, and 53 support staff.
Amidst the threat of Taal Volcano’s eruption, the medical mission team willingly proceeded with the sole intention of helping the very poor constituents of Baccor and its vicinity. At the very last minute prior to checking in for our flight for Manila, our doctors and other volunteers were able to gather around 4,000 pieces of N95 facial masks to help alleviate the need of the residents affected by the volcanic ash.
Most volunteers stayed at the TRYP Hotel in Manila and a daily bus service brought the volunteers to the various medical mission sites and back. As many know, Manila has one of the worst traffic in the world. Luckily, we were granted 4 motorcycle police escorts that made our travel time shorter. We were very grateful to the police team and honored their great service with a standing ovation at our farewell dinner.
As with our previous missions, we not only took care of the indigent population with their medical needs but also included education as an integral part of our Community Outreach Program. Our Critical Care Team comprised of Dr. Carmen Agcaoili and Pam Dudley (APN) led by Dr. Janice Manjuck taught a 4-hour course that included a lecture on Fundamental Critical Care and a hands-on Skills Station. This course was conducted three times at different venues. There were 62 local nurses from Ospital Ng Paranaque and Olivares Hospital that participated. At the Bacoor District Hospital, there were 17 participants which comprised of nurses, students, midwives and a doctor. The third venue of the course was held at the UERMMMC School of Medicine and was attended by 72 clerks, residents and fellows.
A whole day refresher course on Emergency Skills Training led by Dr. Leslie Sackschewsky (OB/GYN), Gerald Caritan (RN, AHA, CPR-Certified) and Pam Dudley (APN), was attended by around 300 midwives, fire fighters and dispatch teams from Bacoor. Our usual Wednesday evening CME dinner was well attended by both the medical mission volunteers and the local medical society. The CME was led by Dr. Janice Manjuck who covered topics on Medical Concerns and Care for patients exposed to volcanic eruptions. Dr. Leslie Sackschewsky lectured on Opioids use in the OB/GYN setting. A polio update was given by Nikki Roco, a medical student at UERMMMC and the UC Berkeley student volunteers presented a survey of PMSNC Medical Mission participants.
Cancelled Major Surgeries
The Taal eruption complicated the logistics of performing major surgeries that have been scheduled. We decided that for the safety of our volunteers it was best to cancel all of them. The supplies, medication including anesthetics and two air conditioners that we brought were donated to General Emilio Aguinaldo Hospital (GEAH) where Dr. Ryan Gamarcha, chief surgical resident and his team will perform the surgeries long after we have gone home. GEAMH Chief of Clinics Dr. Romulo U Lua, Jr will supervise the surgeries.
Our data processing and statistics team led by Sherman Calinga and Fred Acelar, rolled out an application for maintaining medical records. The application is written by Brendan Hoffman, a UC Irvine student. Read more about Brendan below.
We plan to continue and improve this method of record keeping for future missions.
My sincere appreciation and gratitude to the medical mission committee members Drs. Ria San Valentin Calinga, Agnes Alikpala, Carmen Agcaoili and Celi DeGuzman, nurse Jesse Madayag, biomedical engineer Dan Dublin and Bernadette Roco.
I would like to acknowledge the help of some local physicians in the outpatient clinics under Dr. Ivy Yrastoza from the City Health Office, and Dr. Jocelyn Caballes, director of Bacoor District Hospital where our minor surgeries were done. We were also joined by Dr. Lito Alava and some UERMMMC medical interns and student. Lastly, the team of anesthesiologists headed by UST-alum Dr. Nelson Maglinao who has been a dedicated medical mission volunteer year after year since...forever!
Overall, considering the untimely Taal eruption that we did not anticipate in our planning, we had a successful incident-free mission that served almost 7000 patients.
Once again, thank you to all of our medical mission participants, donors and sponsors!
Select photography of the 2020 Medical Mission is by volunteer and San Francisco-based photographer and filmmaker Kiko Valle
Brendan Hoffman a Volunteer Profile
Brendan studies Informatics at the University of California Irvine Department of Computer Science. Brendan has always been curious about how computers and electronics work from a young age. His curiosity in computers and coding translates to his ability to tackle problems and solve them with ingenuity and creativity. When approached about the idea of producing a medical record (EMR) application, he embraced the challenge. After half a year of hard work in the summer of 2019, on top of school and leadership roles, he was able to produce a working EMR that helped serve 6,890 patients at the 2020 mission to Bacoor, Cavite.
Brendan began the EMR project possessing no prior knowledge or connection to healthcare or the medical field. Now in his senior year, he is part of a pharmaceutical startup where he is applying various technologies and frameworks he learned from the EMR project implementation.
Brendan identifies as half filipino. His family is from San Fabian, Pangasinan.