Pacific Partnership holds Nutrition Subject-Matter Expert Exchange with Da Nang Ortho, Rehab Hospital

Story Number: NNS160731-05Release Date: 7/31/2016 5:04:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Elizabeth Merriam, Pacific Partnership 2016 Public Affairs

DA NANG, Vietnam (NNS) -- Pacific Partnership 2016 personnel from hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) and Project Hope visited the Da Nang Orthopedics and Rehabilitation Hospital July 21.

The visit was part of a two-day subject-matter expert exchange that addressed nutrition management for patients.

Participants completed morning rounds alongside staff nurses, then held a round table discussion with a panel of hospital staff about the role proper nutrition plays in patient care.

"We discussed calorie and protein recommendations in various disease states including tube feeding recommendations," said Lt. j.g. Naomi Harless, a dietitian and native of Albion, Michigan, assigned to Mercy.

Case studies allowed participants to discuss the different nutritional needs for various conditions including diabetes, spinal cord injuries, and pressure ulcers. Other topics covered included supplement use, dehydration, and burn care.

During the visit, participants focused on how nutrition can affect wound healing, and how to educate patients and family about the importance of diet when suffering from illness, or recovering from injury.

"The hospital does all they can to educate within the hospital, but once [patients] leave it's up to the escorts and it's up to the patients," said Harless. "It's important they receive education from providers at the hospital and understand the importance of maintaining the increased protein, the increased calories they're going to need when it comes to wound healing."

Project Hope volunteer Michelle Tom, said learning about the hospital's approach to nutrition was eye opening.

"The reason why we're here is to connect with people of different countries, and learn from local hospitals what their care is like in regards to nutrition," said Tom. "I think the Vietnamese nurses and doctors learned from us, but I think we also learned equally from them."

Event lead Lt. Rebekah Kopesky, a registered nurse and native of Appleton, Wisconsin, assigned to Mercy said everyone came together to support each other and patient care is a team effort.

"Partnership is really important for us; [to give us] an overall understanding and to improve health care in preparation for a future crisis that could occur," said Kopesky. "Every organization brings in a unique [skill set] or different facet to care and provides different resources. Where one may not be as strong in an area, that could be another organization's strength."

Pacific Partnership 2016 will conduct mission stops in Malaysia and Indonesia after departing from Vietnam.

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