Health care often must travel to reach the sick, especially to those who are disadvantaged and living in remote areas, isolated from the most basic of services. In response, in 2007 VCF created a program of mobile medical outreach clinics to provide free health care to children in the provincial capitals. In an effort to further reach children who have little to no access to transportation, VCF partnered with FedEx in 2011 to create FedEx Delivers Heartbeats, a greatly-expanded version of the outreach clinics that brings free health care to children deep into the rural areas by operating at both provincial and district hospital levels.
At each clinic, hundreds of poor children are examined and diagnosed by the country’s top cardiologists and surgeons from Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, and Da Nang, without having to leave their home province. The clinics increase early detection of heart conditions in children and train provincial doctors in the diagnosis and treatment of these children. Each outreach clinic provides free care to 200-500 children, including diagnostic testing, treatment, and placement on the cardiac surgery waiting list if required, as well as post-operative checkups.
Since March 2011, there have been 15 FedEx Delivers Heartbeats clinics in 15 provinces and 13 districts across Vietnam. Over 4,100 children have received free health care; out of that number nearly 1,000 children were found to have a congenital heart defect, and almost 700 required an operation. The children needing corrective heart operations have been placed on the Heartbeat Vietnam surgery waiting list, which has an average time of just six to eight weeks between diagnosis and surgery.
One of our goals at VCF is to identify, diagnose, and treat children with congenital heart defects at the earliest age possible, when the health effects are not as dire and the condition can often be treated with closed-heart surgery. The FedEx Delivers Heartbeats mobile medical outreach clinics is a key component of our strategy, helping us deliver the care that these children desperately need.