Thursday, July 18, 2013

Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu Provides Health Care in Chuuk and Yap

FSM Dept. of Health and Social Affairs: A medical team from Tripler Army Medical Center (TAMC) in Honolulu, Hawaii visited Chuuk and Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia from April 10-28, 2013.  The team specialized in diseases of the ear, nose, and throat, was lead by Dr. Philip Littlefield, and staffed by Dr. Kelly Groom, Dr. Denby Fukuda (an Audiologist), and by Physician Assistant Jeff Robin.

In Chuuk (Figure 1), the team saw 223 patients and provided 24 endoscopic exams, 37 ultrasounds, and operated on 12 patients.  The estimated cost of services the team provided in Chuuk (clinic and operating room) was $46,098.84, excluding hospital costs and personnel time.

In Yap (Figure 2), the team saw 184 patients and provided 9 endoscopic exams, 15 ultrasounds, and operated on 15 patients.  This was about $24,495 worth of services, again not taking into account hospital and personnel time costs.

(Yap). From Left: PA Robin, Dr. Littlefield, Dr. Robert Paul, and Dr. Groom

All together, the team provided an estimated $80,000 worth of direct medical care to Chuuk and Yap within two weeks.  If all patients seen were treated in Honolulu or elsewhere, the total cost would have easily reached at least a quarter of million dollars.

According to the team, the betel nut was the main cause of preventable disease that they evaluated, but most of the cancers they saw were too advanced to operate on.  Oral cancers would no longer be a problem in FSM if betel nut chewing were eliminated.  This would save limited financial resources as well.

While the FSM government appreciates the services provided by the team, it hoped the team had good experience in the FSM.  As summed up by  Dr. Littlefield, the team leader, “It was a pleasure coming down there and taking care of your people.  It is a win-win for both sides.  You get badly needed medical care at a good price, and we get to do interesting surgeries, not to mention the amazing cultural exchange".

Funding for this trip was made possible from FSM Department of Health and Social Affair’s share of the Amended Compact funding.  Coordination and facilitation of the teams’ visit was also made by FSM Department of Health Services in consultation with the relevant FSM State hospitals.

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