Leaving Hanoi

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind working in the NHP. Leaving the romantic city of Hue behind not too long ago, I can’t help but feel distressed at the thought of leaving Hanoi and many friends behind very soon. Many activities overlapped in the last two weeks. First, I worked very closely with the staff at the Training Department so that Nneka and I could hold PEMSoft sessions on two days (05/28 and 05/29) in the library to provide any remaining NHP staff with information and access to the software.As I moved between departments to prepare for the announcement at the weekly case conference, booked the space and necessary equipment, and sent reminders for PEMSoft follow-up surveys, I felt very grateful for the familiarity and support that this hospital has offered during my time working here. From addressing a request for PEMSoft download from Dr. Truong Manh Tu at the Nephrology Department to forwarding a need of assistance in diagnosing patient with congenital erythropoietin porphyria from Dr. Nguyen Hoang Nam at the Hematology Department, the staff at the hospital has enabled me to be proficient and proactive every single moment, and I am indebted to them for my competency.

Besides the training sessions and assisting NHP staff as much as I could, my focus was also in connecting with key physicians in various departments to conduct exit interviews. Their feedback on the KCE project, suggestions for future work at the NHP or other hospitals in the country, as well as recommendations for changes in product/services, is valuable information that could help our organization further assist and accommodate physicians in their clinical work. As always, it was very challenging for doctors to spare a few moments to talk to us. However, when they did, those moments of advice giving were precious. They expressed gratitude toward our enthusiasm and attentiveness in assisting them with software download and usage. Most physicians praised the mini training sessions that Nneka and I hosted in the PICU and Respiratory departments. Others offered helpful suggestions to modify our future work such as more advanced preparation for software download or teleconference to minimize the cost of sending employees overseas. Although there was similarity in the content of these responses, I always found myself energized at each and every chance to understand the doctors’ perspective. Each time, I also felt privileged to have a last opportunity to interact with these incredible individuals.

Many doctors and nurses also have anticipated my departure and planned many gathering occasions to say goodbye. One of my family members also flew out from Ho Chi Minh city last weekend, bringing with him many Southern treats from other friends and family members. We had talked over a traditional cup of northern tea and had many delicious foods from different regions of Vietnam at Quan Ngon restaurant on Phan Boi Chau Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi. I recalled having a fantastic dinner with a group of KCE board members at the very same restaurant during our second week in Hanoi. It seemed like just yesterday that we talked about the project’s goals, the excitement of having two foreigners staying in a developing country and the expectation of nothing but greatness.

I am not sure how people deal with separation, temporary or permanent, but it has always been a great ordeal for me to say farewell to someone. Especially, there are too many people that I have grown very fond of during the last three months. There is still so much unfinished business: friends that I have not had a chance to comfort and help them to overcome life’ obstacles, my godson (I met him in the Emergency Department during my first few weeks at the NHP) who has not yet grown old enough to recognize my face when I cuddle him, the medical terminology that I have not yet learned in Vietnamese, the traditional dishes that adopted sisters from the Training Department have not yet taught me, and so many more things. Although the lingering sadness is undeniable, the hope for a future return date is also present. On that day, I will fall back into the arms of many people that I love and respect in Hanoi.

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