Launceston General Hospital doctors, nurses head off to Vanuatu

Launceston General Hospital orthopaedic surgeons John Batten and Roger Butorac, nurse Paul Van Nynanten and anaesthetist Henning Els.

Launceston General Hospital orthopaedic surgeons John Batten and Roger Butorac, nurse Paul Van Nynanten and anaesthetist Henning Els.

A team of Launceston General Hospital doctors and nurses will head to Vanuatu to volunteer their medical expertise. 

Orthopaedic surgeons John Batten and Roger Butorac, anaesthetist Henning Els and nurses Paul Van Nynanten and Kate Taylor will venture to the nation’s capital, Port Vila, in June.

"We send a team over for two main purposes ... to offer emergency surgery in orthopaedics to the people of Vanuatu through their public hospital,” Mr Batten said.

“One of the bigger aims is to try and improve their capacity to do it themselves, so show them how we would manage something so that when it crops up again when we're not there, that they would be comfortable and competent to manage it."

Mr Batten said a LGH team had been heading over annually for more than five years. It will be the first time this team has gone over together.

The team adapts treatment methods and helps local medics apply them, taking into account problems which may be more apparent in Vanuatu than Tasmania, like infection in a tropical climate. 

"We would probably do about 30 operations, some of quite considerable complexity, some of relatively minor complexity,” Mr Batten said. 

"Our aim is to be the assistant to them as the surgeon unless the complexity is such that they would observe it.

"They tend to select what cases they're going to present to us for advice or management, not everything needs an operation."

He said the people of Vanuatu have a “major problem” with congenital club feet, which is one of the team’s “big targets”. 

A management program was created, and the number of club feet the team operates on has decreased significantly.

The parametric condition involves deformed feet.  

The team will be going for 10 days and operating for seven. 

To donate to help the team with supplies to help the people of Vanuatu, you can donate to the Rotary Club of Youngtown who will isolate funds for them. Contact George Manifold on george@tassie.ws

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