Medical professionals donate defibrillators to Philippines effort

Continuing a practice of philanthropy both here and in the Philippines, leaders at American Medical Response (AMR), Kaua‘i’s emergency-ambulance service, has donated five Lifepack 10 defibrillator/monitors to officers of the Rotary Club of Poipu Beach, with the understanding that they will be utilized in Cebu Province, an AMR spokesperson said in a press release.

Members of Rotary in Hawai‘i have accepted the responsibility to see that donated medical equipment is safely transported to the Philippines, said a spokesperson for the Rotary Club of Poipu Beach.

Zack Octavio, operations manager of AMR on Kaua‘i, said, “We’re delighted to see these very fine and valuable defibrillator/monitors continue in service, although no longer on Kaua‘i.

“They have many years of useful life left in them,” said Octavio.

“In order to provide the on-going high quality of care expected of Kaua‘i’s paramedic service, we need to upgrade equipment on a regular basis. The new defibrillators arrived last month, so we are now able to release the ones we used previously.” “We sent a grant proposal to AMR a few months ago when we heard about the upgrade plans,” said Dr. Craig Nishimoto, president of the Rotary Club of Poipu Beach.

“We are actively trying to improve the level of cardiac care for poor people in Cebu, Philippines, and the donation of these defibrillator/monitors by AMR is a tremendous improvement in resources for Cebu medical personnel.

“They have ambulances in Cebu,” says Nishimoto, “but they don’t appear to have much, if any, equipment in them. They just carry people to the hospital rather like we did 50 years ago,” Nishimoto explained.

“We’re not sure how the Cebu medical personnel will use AMR’s donation. We’d like to see them in the ambulances, but we also know that they might think them more valuable stationed in the hospital. The decision is theirs,” Nishimoto continued.

A team of people including Rotarians and Kaua‘i doctors and nurses will hand-carry the defibrillators to Cebu next month.

Team members will train Cebu medical personnel in the use of the defibrillator/monitors, which are capable of many complex functions, the Rotary spokesperson said. Dr. Lee Evslin, immediate past president and chief executive officer of Wilcox Health (Wilcox Memorial Hospital and Kauai Medical Clinic), is the medical leader of the team.

“Medical missions are always exciting and fulfilling for doctors,” says Evslin. “This mission will be even more special because of the participation of Kaua‘i’s new cardiologist, Dr. Eugene Shafton.” Not only will Shafton be providing hands-on teaching for the doctors who care for Cebu’s poor, he has also accepted an invitation from the Philippine Heart Association to lecture to 50 physicians for the entire afternoon of Feb. 21.

“Shafton told us, ‘we’re only there for six days, so put me to work!’ and we promise to honor his commitment and do exactly as he says,” Nishimoto said.

“We know that each one of these defibrillator/monitors is valued at $8,000, and we’re very aware that the Cebu health services are not able to afford equipment like this,” says Nishimoto.

“That’s why partnerships such as this between American Medical Response and Rotary are so valuable. They are a business that values philanthropy, and we are a service organization with the ability to get the equipment where it belongs.” Rotarians from the Rotary Club of Cebu Port Center are expected to handle some logistics on the Cebu end.

For more information on how Kaua‘i’s Rotary clubs support medical missions, contact D.Q. Jackson at 332-9281.

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