Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery News
Ambassador Team Visits Bangkok
Spring 1999, Volume 24, Number 2
from the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association Newsletter
by Donald V. Huebener, DDS, MS
BANGKOK - Queen Sirikit Institute of Child Health was the site for the first ACPA sponsored Ambassador Team visit to a foreign country. The official trip, led by ACPA Past President Jeff Marsh with co-members Don Huebener, ACPA Executive Council and Linda D'Antonio, former Council member, arrived at the 500 bed children's hospital in Thailand's capital on November 29, 1998 for a week-long intensive program. They were met at the Don Muang International Airport by Dr. Wiratt Chantharatanapiboon, recent ACPA Visiting Scholar and his wife, Dr. Sunchana Chantharatanapiboon.
The week's activities began with a formal introduction to the faculty and orientation with the respective disciplines of plastic surgery, dentistry, and speech pathology - ENT. Final plans for lectures, demonstrations, surgery, and diagnostic testing for patients were reviewed. Emphasis was directed to the existing cleft protocol and clinical programs and ways to expand and improve cleft care at the hospital.
The three visiting team members spent the week in various clinical venues. Marsh focused his teaching efforts and wealth of cleft knowledge in the operating room with cases every day. D'Antonio developed along with the ENT-Speech Pathology group detailed speech protocols and staffing procedures. Huebener's efforts were directed toward teaching in the operating room for two days (restorative dentistry and oral cleft rehabilitation under general anesthesia) and in an outpatient setting for seminars and a course for laboratory appliance techniques. He also stressed the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to cleft care and need for close cooperation among not only dental disciplines but also the entire surgery-speech-dentistry spectra to a city-wide audience at a special lecture during the visit.
"I have been to Bangkok and the Children's Hospital previously and have watched the increasing level of sophistication in cleft care over time," said Marsh. "With this visit, I'm pleased with the interaction among the medical and dental disciplines and the openness to facilitate a cooperative effort - an approach truly in keeping with the ACPA philosophy."
Support for the cleft program was evident in the large pediatric dentistry department with its full-time members - pediatric dentists (4), prosthodontist (1), orthodontist (1), endodontist (1), oral surgeon (1), and dental public health-pediatric dentist (1). Huebener directed the orthodontist in the construction of the first active cleft appliance for a severe bilateral cleft infant prior to lip repair.
"Our host city welcomed us with open arms," said D'Antonio, who performed the first nasendoscopy for faculty and students during the visit. "We are very thankful for the several evening dinners sponsored by medical faculty departments in the hospital."
Highlighting the social events of the week was a special arrangement made by Dr. Wiratt to attend a birthday celebration for King Bhumibol (Rama IX), the beloved King of Thailand, at the presidential palace. A lavish interpretive show culminated with fireworks for the King on his 71st birthday.
"The entire experience was very beneficial to the children's hospital and also professionally rewarding to each of us," said Huebener. "We were sad to leave but are continuing a close relationship with the Bangkok team and assisting them in many ways." In addition, all three members echoed an appreciation to Stryker-Leibinger for their continued support of the ACPA Visiting Scholar-Ambassador Team Programs.