Dr. Mark Holterman has had a wonderful career as a pediatric surgeon, but one passion close to his heart is the work he and his wife have been a part of with International Pediatric Specialists Alliance for the Children of Vietnam (IPSAC-VN).
Dr. Holterman and Dr. Ai-Xuan Le Holterman, his wife, first visited Vietnam in 2007. It was the first time Ai-Xuan had returned to her native country since she and her family had fled in 1975. While there, they visited the largest children’s hospital in Ho Chi Minh City. Overcrowding was the first thing they noticed, sometimes with as many as three children in one bed.
Families from poor outlying areas with no medical care had come a great distance to seek medical care for their children. They ended up staying at the hospital because they had no other place to go. This brought problems with sanitation and security.
They came to realize the main shortage was from a lack of pediatric physicians and hospitals throughout the country. The Holtermans met with the hospital’s chief surgeon prior to leaving. The three decided to start a non-profit to assist with bringing adequate pediatric care throughout the country. IPSAC-VN became a non-profit in 2009. It is made up of volunteer physicians and other healthcare support personnel (Osfhealthcare).
One of the main goals of the organization is to team US physicians with Vietnamese physicians to find ways to improve hospital conditions thus cutting down on the number of infections from overcrowding. They provide education and training opportunities for Vietnamese pediatric hospitals, medical schools, and schools of nursing. They also work to provide needed equipment to hospitals and find children who need operations and bring them to surgeons. Dr. Holterman and his wife future goal is to establish pediatric clinics in rural areas throughout the country.
Dr. Mark Holterman’s career has encompassed pediatrician, surgeon, professor, and lecturer, but his philanthropic efforts through IPSAC-VN may be his greatest contribution to mankind.