New paediatric ward at the Hospital for Traumatology and Orthopaedics (HTO), HCMC, Vietnam

Andrew Beischer


The Vietnamese Orthopaedic Observership Program (VOOP) is a collaborative humanitarian program that I established in my role as Chair of the Asia Pacific Committee. This program was primarily established to support the Hospital for Traumatology and Orthopaedics (HTO), which is the largest purely orthopaedic hospital in Vietnam. The program is financially supported by The Epworth Medical Foundation, private philanthropy and Orthopaedic Outreach (OO).


Andrew Beischer

Asia Pacific Committee Chair, Vietnamese Orthopaedic Observership Program founder, here pictured with staff at the Hospital for Traumatology and Orthopaedics in Ho Chi Minh City

Over the last four years the program has supported 30 orthopaedic surgeons, 12 nurses and six hospital administrative staff to visit Melbourne for periods of between two weeks to three months. There have been nine teaching visits to HTO over this time under the OO banner with up to eight orthopaedic surgeons/registrars/radiologist from Melbourne participating in each visit. 

When I first visited the HTO I was confronted with the challenging environment that patients must endure while they recover from surgery. The wards at HTO are small, hot and very cramped with as many as eight patients (plus their carers) bunking in each room, which would be slightly bigger than a private room in the new Lee Wing at the Epworth Hospital Richmond. This situation was most distressing to observe in the paediatric ward, where young children would often stay for many weeks or even months recovering from surgery or severe skeletal trauma.

In February 2017 we sponsored a small delegation from HTO, which included the chief of nursing and the head of administration. One of the aims of this visit was for the team to visit hospitals in Melbourne with a view to gather practical (and financially realistic) ideas of how the patient/working environment of the HTO could be improved. This delegation also included the chief librarian, and I have previously reported on the amazing HTO library upgrade that was completed only three months after this delegation returned to HCMC last year.

The delegation visited the paediatric wards at the Epworth and Royal Children’s Hospitals. During their visit the team was able to appreciate the importance of the ward environment to the morale of both patients and the staff caring for them. During their visit to the Epworth kids ward they were delighted to meet ‘Nemo and Dori’. This seemed to have sparked the imagination of the team to achieve a magnificent transformation of the HTO Paediatric Ward, which reopened recently after a staged three-month refurbishment.

On my most recent trip to HTO last month I was delighted to inspect the new Paediatric Ward with my family. The wards were spotless, with sparkling new tiles on the floors and walls, and beautiful hand-painted murals on the ceilings of the wards and corridors of the Paediatric Department. This artwork had been undertaken by a team of local Vietnamese Michelangelos!

This artwork was truly amazing to view, as were the smiles I could see it was putting on the faces of children, their carers and the staff who worked in this “new” facility.

This again is an example of how this program is changing the lives of people in a country that needs our help. A small investment has resulted in another great outcome.
New ceilings painted by local Vietnamese artists in the Hospital of Traumatology and Orthopaedics in Ho Chi Minh City.