Community Service Award a welcome surprise

Epworth foot and ankle specialist Dr Andrew Beischer​ was last night surprised to be presented with a prestigious Community Service
Award by Dr David Love, Victorian Convenor of Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, at the Epworth Board and Executive Annual Medical Leaders Dinner. 

 Dr Beischer was recognised for the relationship he has built with the Hospital for Traumatology and Orthopaedics (HTO) in Vietnam. He established ‘Project HTO’ in January 2015 and has since sponsored more than 12 orthopaedic surgeons to gain work experience in Australia. 

Project HTO now receives financial support from Epworth Medical Foundation, which has also committed funds for the introduction of an English learning program and a refurbishment of the library at the Ho Chi Minh hospital. The new Epworth - HTO Friendship Library will be provided an air conditioner; an up-to-date supply of medical textbooks; and access to online medical journals. 

Dr Beischer said that the doctors’ work experience program involves a three months stay and orthopaedic training in current surgical techniques at various Victorian Hospitals. 

“When they come to Melbourne, they go to the footy, sing in St Ignatius church with the Vietnamese community, they come to the beach with us, and truly experience life and work in Australia. They are our friends, and together we have forged lasting and generous relationships across several Melbourne hospital groups and with individual doctors,” Dr Beischer said.

“Early this year, as an extension of Project HTO, Epworth hosted three administrative and library staff from HTO, who trained at both Epworth and at the Dandenong hospital.

“I liked the idea of what we can achieve through friendships. The name of the library, which will be completed in 2018, reminds me of the Friendship Bridge that the Australian government built over the Mekong River.”

Dr Beischer is committed to sharing surgery techniques and equipment enjoyed in privileged, developed countries. Apart from his late father Professor Norman Beischer as mentor, he admires the Fred Hollows approach to improving another community’s health. “Just get in there and do it”, he says.