Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Vietnam captures heart of valley men

Two leaders step up to assist needy hospital


By DANA DUGAN
Express Staff Writer

Two Wood River Valley residents—Rick Davis, of Sun Valley Title and a Hailey City Council member, and Reginald Reeves, an Idaho Falls and Sun Valley lawyer—have teamed up to ship much-needed medical equipment to a hospital in Vietnam.

Last November, Davis, who is also the president of the Rotary Club of Ketchum-Sun Valley, took his first trip to Vietnam with Huy Doan, of Hailey, to visit some of Doan's family members.

"While I was there, he asked if I wanted to visit the hospital," Davis said. "That's where I figured out why I went to Vietnam. They don't have anything."

The Binh Minh Hospital is in a town of approximately 100,000, some 100 miles south of Ho Chi Minh City. There, Davis met Dr. Tom Tuongthui, who made him aware of the need for donations of equipment. Most of the beds, which are army cots, are in one room. Davis said the hospital was quite busy when he was there. But there is only one doctor and four nurses.

"It's not what I saw, it's what I didn't see, and that's equipment that can save lives," Davis said. "The doctor brought in the staff. I gave them my Rotary card and said send me the list and I'll see what I can do. We all had tears in our eyes."

After Davis came home, he called Reeves, who works on many charitable causes, to ask him about helping pull together some of the items that were needed at Binh Minh.

The most-needed items were an autoclave, which is used to sterilize medical instruments, an EKG machine, and a dental X-ray machine. Within three weeks, Davis and Reeves had obtained most of the items from Idaho hospitals and dentists. They also found many smaller items, like tongue depressors and bedpans.

"This country has a history of helping. Volunteerism is not very well known in other parts of the world," Reeves said. "It's an odd situation in most of Europe, for example. If the government doesn't do it, or you don't get paid for it, it simply doesn't happen. But here it goes back to the history of the barn raising. In the colonial days, people chipped in to help out."

Several different hospitals around Idaho donated equipment, including St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center, the McCall Memorial Hospital and the Knights of Columbus of the Treasure Valley. The equipment that was donated is in good working order, Davis said. They now have, in a warehouse in Idaho Falls, two and a half tons of equipment ready to go. They will need to raise $18,000 to send the two massive containers to Vietnam.

"The project was adopted by my Rotary as an international Rotary project," Davis said. "My next project is a school in Long Mi," Among other things, its desks need replacing and its ceilings are falling apart.

"I can't wait to get back there. My heart didn't come back with me," Davis said.

Davis will be making a presentation to the Interact Rotary Club and Wood River High School's Business Academy today, March 21. He'll also speak at the Hailey Public Library, on Tuesday, April 24.

To make a donation, write to Reginald Reeves, Sun Valley Charitable Foundation, P.O. Box 391, Ketchum, Idaho 83340, or Rick Davis, Ketchum-Sun Valley Rotary Charitable Foundation, P.O. Box 603, Ketchum, Idaho 83340.




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