Victoria Healthcare Internationals Clinics: Medicine with Compassion

By: Keely Burkey

It is often said that great things start from unexpected beginnings. Victoria Healthcare International Clinics are surely proof of this.

For Dr. Mason Cobb, one of Victoria’s founders, the oak is everywhere he looks. “I started in Vietnam with Dr. Tuong 20 years ago. Our project was revolutionary for the time and Saigon was just opening its eager eyes to a bigger world. Now when I look out the window in Vietnam and I see all the highrises and palm trees, I know how far from home I really am,” he reminisced. For Dr. Cobb, home was a small farm in rural Michigan – certainly a long way from the busy streets of Saigon.

clinicImage source: Victoria Healthcare

Victoria Healthcare’s co-founder, Dr. Nguyen Vinh Tuong, has a different upbringing. Raised in Saigon, he came from a family of doctors and nurses; it made sense for him to carry on in this tradition.

He remembers his early days of selling medicine directly to doctors, before pharmacies were established and regulated. Once he began studying at the Ho Chi Minh City Medicine and Pharmacy University, he could tell his professor the price per dosage of everything on the market. “They were stunned. They didn’t know how I knew that!” he laughed.

The paths of these two doctors crossed in 1997 when Dr. Cobb came to Vietnam to help set up the Columbia-Gia Dinh Clinic Joint Venture, Saigon’s first post-war international health clinic. Dr. Tuong worked hard for the licence to the Columbia clinic and together with Dr. Cobb got the project up and running.

Their current partnership was born a few years later. Dr. Cobb had gone back to pediatric surgery in Washington, while Dr. Tuong continued to pursue his interests in gastroenterology at the National University Hospital in Singapore and the Mayo Clinic in Arizona. While in the US, Dr. Tuong visited his friend in the Pacific Northwest and together they were excited to open another clinic in Vietnam together – this time on their own terms.

A Working Philosophy

For Dr. Cobb, high-quality healthcare is a layered concept. The first layer? Safety. “We want to make sure, of course, that nobody gets hurt or sicker while receiving care,” he said, listing the international levels of sterility and cleanliness that are practised at all four clinics, the newest one having just opened in late April of this year.

The second layer is “doing the best thing for the patient, even if it’s not the best business decision: ‘Patients First’ – even before business.” While this flies in the face of the daily ledger, it’s a hit that the doctors are willing to take. Rather than run tests that cost a lot but prove little, Dr. Cobb and Tuong have worked to help people medically, not hurt them financially. This mission is embedded in every Victoria doctor as a basic ethical responsibility.

clinicImage source: Victoria Healthcare

The last layer, while the most important, is also characteristically unconventional: “Respect. We respect the patient.” Respect is crucial to their healing philosophy, which is centred around preventative medicine. Rather than wait for an illness to bring a patient to their doors, Victoria strives to educate their patients on how to live well and be healthy. “This might not be good in a business sense,” Dr. Cobb joked, “but if they’re healthy, they’ll stick around longer.”

Continuing Education

To make sure all doctors and nurses stay current on medical research and technology, Dr. Tuong and Dr. Cobb have implemented weekly training courses. For nurses, this means the Continuing Nurse Education (CNE), a programme that tests medical knowledge and industry trends. For doctors, there’s the Continuing Medical Education (CME), which is conducted in English. Each physician must deeply research a topic in their specialty and present it to the rest of the medical staff. The question-and-answer sessions are robust and highly interactive. Technology is also harnessed to facilitate lively clinical discussions amongst doctors across all four care sites.

clinicImage source: Victoria Healthcare

This zest for learning is infectious, and the founders proudly report that every member of staff enthusiastically wants to be part of the team as well as the best that they can be.

Continued Engagement

It’s clear that Dr. Cobb and Dr. Tuong have found a recipe for success. However, Dr. Tuong doesn’t want to grow too quickly. “We open clinics very strategically,” he says. “We really want to make sure we’re providing exactly what the customers want and need in exactly the right place. After a few years, if the clinic does well, we open another one, always incorporating lessons learned.”

Victoria Healthcare’s just celebrated the grand opening of its newest clinic. This nine-storey palace of health on Dinh Tien Hoang in District 1 is a sight to behold. Features include two floors devoted entirely to pediatrics, a 128-slice CT scanner and an outpatient minor surgical ward.

I asked what they could expand in the future. Dr. Tuong smiled. “Maybe a hospital in two or three years.” That would be the oak forest.

Contact information:

Clinic 1: 135A Nguyen Van Troi, Phu Nhuan D
Clinic 2: Broadway D, 152 Nguyen Luong Bang, D7
Clinic 3: 20-20Bis -22 Dinh Tien Hoang, D1
info@victoriavn.com | +84 28 3910 4545 | www.victoriavn.com

Banner image source: Victoria Healthcare

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