Viet Nam News
By Hà Nguyễn and Ngọc Trâm
A free-of-charge clinic in the Mekong Delta city of Cần Thơ, has been much praised by local people, particularly the poor.
Established by Dr Trần Văn Tốt some 12 years ago in Hưng Lợi Ward in Ninh Kieu District, the clinic has examined, consulted with and given treatment to thousands of patients including those with serious ailments such as diabetes.
Huỳnh Thị Kiều, 76, said, “Thanks to the clinic doctors I escaped from blindness, a side-effect of diabetes.”
Dr Trần Thị Lan said, “Kiều was faced with cataracts. She should have been operated on, but she also faced serious diabetes, so we told Kiều’s daughter to look after her carefully and help her to take medicine to lower her glucose level until it was stable. Then she was able to have her eyes operated on safely at Hoàn Mỹ Hospital.”
Because of the operation, Kiều’s eyes have now returned to normal, said Lan.
Apart from giving treatment to locals in Cần Thơ, the clinic’s medical workers travel to the neighbouring provinces of Hậu Giang, Tiền Giang and Vĩnh Long to treat poor patients.
Nguyễn Văn Tưởng, 62, in Hậu Giang, said he was very happy to be treated free at the clinic where the staff members always smile at him, enthusiastically take care of him, and treat him very effectively.
“My chronic cough has been much reduced,” said Tưởng.
Another patient, Hoàng Thị Hồng, 70, visited the clinic from Vĩnh Long Province. She experienced a lot of back pain, but because of a lack of money, she could not receive treatment at a hospital. Then recently she heard about this clinic.
Hồng has been carefully treated by Dr Đặng Văn Hiếu who said Hồng did not suffer any major ailments, only the usual degradation of her backbone due to old age.
Dr Hiếu wrote her a prescription for some medicine and asked her to return to the clinic in two weeks.
Hồng was very happy because she could have her back pain treated free, and just as important, the behaviour of the medical workers at the clinic was very nice.
“I feel much better after receiving their treatment,’ she said.
Phạm Hồng Minh, 55, in Cần Thơ’s Thốt Nốt District, praises the clinic as a good example for others to follow. Patients do not have to wait in line and doctors do checkups very carefully with a smile on their faces.
The 200sq.m clinic has rooms to deal with cardiovascular cases, children, and a room for ear, nose, throat and skin cases, according to Dr Trần Văn Tốt, who is head of the clinic.
In his memoirs, Tốt wrote, “After retiring in 2000, I continued working in Tân An Ward. I joined a group of seven members to help the elderly receive free cataract operations at Cần Thơ General Hospital. During that time, I often thought about setting up a clinic for the poor.”
“In 2005, by chance and luck, I met two overseas Vietnamese who lived in Australia, Võ Văn Tám and Quan Văn Cẩm, at the house of a friend. Upon hearing my idea of setting up a free clinic for poor patients in Cần Thơ and the surrounding area, they agreed to donate VNĐ15 million per month for the clinic, and gave an advance of VNĐ100 million to start up the clinic’s activities.”
Tốt said, “In the first years we had to move our clinic from place to place due to a lack of land. In 2011, Ngọc Điệp, head of the management board of the Tổ Đình Chiếu Minh Cao Đài (Caodaism is a religion in Việt Nam), agreed to lend us 200sq.m of land and donated VNĐ50 million to us so we could build the clinic.”
“In addition, I have asked my friends and relatives to donate us more money to build the clinic. As a result, it was finished in February 2011, and has treated many hundreds of patients free of charge,” said Tốt.
The clinic has also received help from the Cần Thơ authorities and other donors; however, increasing numbers of patients each year have caused difficulties such as a shortage of medicines and equipment.
Dr Tốt has called on local and foreign donors to continue assisting the clinic, “for us to have the conditions to promote medical checkups for poor patients in Cần Thơ and other areas in the Mekong Delta”. VNS