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Valley Pediatrician Joins Healing the Children Volunteers on Medical Mission to Vietnam


Valley Pediatrician Joins Healing the Children Volunteers on Medical Mission to Vietnam

December 1, 2011 - Where war once raged and death was commonplace, a healing mission recently took place in the city of Hue, Vietnam, which improved the health and functioning of 75 poor Vietnamese children.

The Valley Hospital’s Director of Pediatrics, Jeffrey M. Bienstock, M.D., and a group of 39 other volunteer physicians, nurses, and technologists from Healing the Children New Jersey spent 11 days at the Hue Central Hospital in October.  The contingent performed a variety of complex surgical procedures that could not be performed by local surgeons at Hue Central.  
Hue, the capital city of Vietnam for 150 years until a communist government was established in Hanoi in 1945, lies near the border between North Vietnam and South Vietnam.  In the Battle of Hue during the Tet Offensive in 1968, the city suffered considerable damage from bombings; 6,000 civilians and prisoners of war were massacred by the communist Viet Cong regime within a 28-day period.
“This was a different type of trip for us at Healing the Children New Jersey, because it was our first time in Vietnam and there is the history of the war,” says Dr. Bienstock, who has volunteered with several other Healing the Children missions abroad.  “But the Vietnamese welcomed us and were grateful for our healing gifts.  It was the right thing to do, to put the war in the past and concentrate on helping the children.”

Dr. Bienstock’s role as a pediatrician was to evaluate children before and after surgery. The specialists who performed surgery included orthopedists, ophthalmologists, plastic surgeons, urologists, and nurses from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida, Alaska, and Washington.

When traveling to medical missions, Healing the Children volunteers pay for their own airfare, housing, and food, as well as give up vacation time from their jobs.  The recent trip to Vietnam was Healing the Children New Jersey’s 164th medical mission overseas. More than 32,000 children in 16 countries have been treated abroad since Healing the Children New Jersey was founded in 1981.  

“Everything we bring is either donated from places such as The Valley Hospital and pharmaceutical companies or purchased through our fundraising efforts,” notes Dr. Bienstock, who also serves as medical director of Healing the Children New Jersey.

In addition to treating children at Hue Central Hospital, the group visited local orphanages, bringing medicines, medical supplies, and other donations.  They also evaluated children for Healing the Children’s International Inbound Program, which brings sick children from underdeveloped nations to hospitals in the United States, like The Valley Hospital, for complex surgeries that cannot be performed in their own countries.
“Valley Hospital and its physicians have been incredibly generous in accepting several children a year for surgery at no cost to their families,” says Pamela DePompo, executive director of Healing the Children New Jersey. 

Healing the Children New Jersey also assists American children, offering free dental care to children in Native American communities and providing expensive therapies for local children in need, including eyeglasses, hearing aids, medications, physical therapy, and summer camp.

For more information about supporting Healing the Children New Jersey’s missions and programs, call 973-949-5034.

Caption:  Jeffrey M. Bienstock, M.D., Director of Pediatrics at The Valley Hospital, with two of the young children he treated during a recent mission trip to Vietnam organized by Healing the Children New Jersey.

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