Archive for November, 2010

Medical Mission to Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines

MGen Juancho Sabban JM
Commanding General, Western Command Headquarters
Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines
This email is sent individually to the heads of the 3 Puerto Princesa Partner Hospitals of the upcoming Philippine American Medical Association of Georgia (PAMAG) Medical Mission to Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines on January 24-28, 2011.

Dear General Sabban,
Greetings from the great State of Georgia, U.S.A. to the great City of Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines! At the last medical mission of PAMAG in Oroquieta, Misamis Occidental, Philippines, I met LtCol. Raymundo Acerde (I may have misspelled his last name), Commander of the Calamba, Misamis Occidental Army camp. It is great to be partnering with the Philippine military again!

*The list of the PAMAG medical mission volunteers are attached to this email. Several of the volunteers already have Philippine licenses. Some members in fact practice in the Philippines. The rest have their medical license applications already with the triumvirate (i.e. DOH, PMA {or PNA, or PDA}, and PRC). We hope to get all the Philippine licenses by reciprocity by Thanksgiving.

*Patients scheduled for surgery at the Western Command (WesCom) hospital will be screened by the local volunteer physicians working with the local coordinator Lito Posas, M.D. Lab tests will be done at the City Health Department Laboratory, where most patients will be getting their pre-op evaluations .Ancillary tests will be done where Dr. Posas and his colleagues would think best to send patients. I am copying again the List of lab and ancillary tests below.

*At the last PAMAG medical mission in Oroquieta City, Misamis Occidental February 2-6, 2009, we did more than 30 cleft palate cases. There were more than 40 cataract surgeries. 70 major surgeries and over a hundred minor surgeries. Several thousand pediatric and medical patients were also served.
As a corollary to the Smile Train cleft lip and palate surgeries, there is a plan by PAMAG to establish a training center for local surgeons of the city of Puerto Princesa and the province of Palawan to be trained to perform these surgeries. The Smile Train Foundation as one of its goals is to have training centers for local surgeons. PAMAG is fortunate to have two excellent plastic surgeons, Professor Mirela Mijares of Cebu Doctors Hospital, Cebu City and Robert Carpenter, a Johns Hopkins trained plastic surgeon, Maryland. My brother, an ENT surgeon, Maryland, will be assisting these two fine doctors. Dr. Mijares trained surgeons at the Oroquieta City training center and these local surgeons have now performed 18 cleft palate surgeries. The details still have to be worked out with Prof. Mijares regarding her returning to Puerto Princesa at periodic times to develop and maintain the Puerto Smile Train Cleft Lip Training Center. The 2009 Oroquieta city medical mission and the 2007 Dagupan city
Medical mission are posted in the PAMAG website,
The doctors husband and wife in charge of the PAMAG partnership with Smile Train Foundation Dr. Paul Beltran, Cardiologist and Dr. Marilyn Beltran, Infectious Diseases will be filling you in on this Training Center program. In all likelihood, the Coordinator of Smile Train in the Philippines who is based in Manila will be in Puerto Princesa during the medical mission.

*The individual surgeons make rounds on their own patients. After the medical mission, I will be staying for at least 4 days to make rounds on patients and to follow-up on patients that are already discharged. I will be seeking volunteers, both local volunteers and PAMAG (taga labas) volunteers to stay past the actual medical mission days to round on the still hospitalized patients and to do post-op checks in the outpatient clinics of the 3medical mission partner hospitals. We are engaging the services of a local Puerto Princesa surgeon to continue follow-up on surgical patients with me past the medical mission days and after I leave Puerto. Dr. Lito Posas will be following up medical patients.

*As with the Oroquieta medical mission, we set up a budget for complications to take care of the expenses. As with the past 7PAMAG medical missions, we coordinate the care of these patients with our local medical mission partners. And as I stated above, I will stay at least 4 days past the medical mission days partly to deal with complications, should there be any. Due to the number of times PAMAG has been doing medical missions, details such as screening of patients for surgery, pairing the cases with the appropriate operators (surgeons), protocols, follow-up issues after the medical mission is over have been made part of every medical mission we undertake.

*Lito Posas, M.D. is the local medical mission volunteer coordinator for the Puerto Princesa, Palawan PAMAG Medical Mission. Now that we have established the lines of communication with the 3 hospitals, I have provided him a copy of this email.
We have learned over the years that we can learn from the local practitioners/healthcare providers who volunteer with us in the medical missions that PAMAG undertake in the same vein that the local practitioners/healthcare providers can learn from us. Indeed, this part of the medical mission I feel is one of the strong points of PAMAG medical missions. The American volunteers born especially value the experience they get working with the local practitioners/healthcare providers. A number of these American born volunteers are children of Filipinos born in the Philippines.

*As it is critical that communication continues I am glad of the excellent communication tools available to us being we are 14,000 miles apart. As this is our eight medical missions, one of the things we have learned and recognize to be vital to the success of medical missions is communication.
I have provided our main sponsor point person, Rotarian Mrs. Ditas Valencia a Magic Jack. Through it, anybody in Puerto Princesa can contact me and the other PAMAG “taga labas” volunteers without being charged a telephone call fee as it is a local call here in Metro Atlanta, Georgia. As a matter of fact, during the pre medical mission meeting tomorrow, Sunday, October 24, 2010, we will be communicating to Ditas via the Magic Jack phone. I have provided Ditas a copy of this email.
*It is reassuring to hear from you the willingness and dedication to partner your hospital to the upcoming PAMAG medical mission. It has encouraged the leaders of PAMAG to be partnering with such service oriented kababayans. During our PAMAG pre medical mission meeting tomorrow, I will bring up the idea of setting aside a day to do a medical mission to a Puerto barangay center. I am sure there would be a number of PAMAG volunteers who will be excited to participate for that day. The Puerto Coliseum is where the Pediatric/Medical/Dental services will be provided..
In our desire to maximize the short period the PAMAG medical mission “taga labas” volunteers are in Puerto, we have been securing materiel to use during the medical mission and to leave the rest with our partner volunteers – hospitals, city health department, etc. We therefore have shipped more than 50 Balikbayan boxes of supplies and non perishable or hard materiel. Due to the cost of shipping, a good portion of our PAMAG accumulated funds are used for shipping. And so, heavy equipment may or may not be shipped due to cost considerations. These heavy materiel include OR lights, OR tables, hospital beds, OR grade sterilizers. As with past medical missions, we are able to ship these heavy items as funds are available because PAMAG has to deal with local expenditures as well before, during and after the medical mission.
Medical missions remind me of campaigns, be it a political campaign, a military campaign, a religious mission campaign, etc. A lot of logistical details have to be threshed out. Local participation by Puerto volunteers, both of the healthcare and civic groups and by individuals is critical to the success of the mission. The PAMAG volunteers who are both members of PAMAG and non-members here in the U.S. and Germany may be dedicated in our desire to help those who need our help. The success however of such a campaign depends heavily on the local volunteers. And for this reason, I thank the 3 Puerto hospitals, Western Command Military Hospital (WesCOM), Palawan Adventist Hospital (PAH) and Ospital nang Palawan (PNH, Palawan National Hospital).

The actual schedule duirng the medical mission is made through consultations between the volunteers, both local and “taga labas”. It will be forthcoming.

Ni hao! Camsahamnida! !Muchas gracias! Maraming salamat! Daghang salamat! Thank y’all! I still have to learn how to say Thank you in Cuyonen.


Lemuel G. Villanueva, M.D., FACOG
Overall Coordinator, 2011 PAMAG Medical Mission to Puerto Princesa, Palawan, January 24-28, 2011
President, 2010-2012
Philippine American Association of Georgia, U.S.A. website:
C 404 353-1216
O 770 963-2485
Magic Jack phone# will be sent to you at another email

Attached: List of PAMAG medical mission volunteers

November 8, 2010 at 8:45 am Leave a comment