The Mongolian Countryside

After an incredible and very busy week at the Children’s Hospital, Larry, Dana and I took off to the countryside of Mongolia with our guide Naagii and our driver Chukka (for the 7th year). With an  outstanding itinerary created by our long time tour advisor Doogii from Dream Mongolia, we set out to a village Naddam festival followed by a visit to Khustain to see the worlds only true wild horses, the Przewalski horses- breathtaking to think that only 30 years ago, they were thought to be extinct in the wild and we saw over 20 of them. Next was flying off to the best ger camp yet (Toilogt Double Lake) at Khovsgol Nur – the largest lake in Mongolia, surrounded by beautiful mountains.

The next 2 days were filled with boats on the lake, reindeer and their herders, horseback riding, hiking in the mountains, meat and more meat to eat, bonfires and… I am always amazed  at the wonderful Mongolian people and the interesting visitors we meet from around the world. All are so interested in our experiences at the Children’s Hospital. Tomorrow we head to Beijing and then home!

Until next year!!!


Time at NCMCH Comes to an End

Today we finished our week of work at the National Center for Maternal and Child Health in UB, Mongolia. It’s been a whirl wind week – from patient consults to lectures to discussions about medical care in Mongolia and the future we’ve been able to learn a lot, teach a lot, and hopefully help some patients too. There is no doubt that resources are much more limited than in the US or other western countries, yet I am amazed every time we are here how much they do with the resources they have. Dr. Enkhtur, Hospital Director has challenged me and our team to do a critical review of the Hematology/Oncology program here and to work with the team here to help them develop a realistic strategic plan to continue to improve the outcomes for Mongolian children with cancer and blood disorders. A lot of our time over the last few days has been talking about prioritization and realistic needs. I am excited to work with the team to help achieve this goal.

We also met with physicians from surgery, pathology, intensive care, nephrology and others. They are universal in their appreciation of our efforts here and ask that other subspecialists come and visit, teach and partner with them. Next September is the 90th anniversary of the Children’s Hospital and I am looking forward  to bringing a larger team of medical specialists from Nemours and Wolfson to expand our partnership, continue with Jonathan’s legacy, and help improve the health of children in Mongolia.

For now, we are off to visit Khovsgol Nur, the largest lake in Mongolia and an area of immense natural beauty!  I remain indebted to Dr. Fox and Dana Collins, as well as the many others who have joined us in prior visits and I look forward to sharing with all of you our experiences on our return to Jacksonville.


Eric’s update

Hard to believe that our week at the National Center for Maternal and Child Health in Ulaanbaatar is already ½ over. It has truly been a whirlwind. Seeing some of our previous recommendations implemented, and the wonderful care children with cancer are receiving is so rewarding. Of course, it remains a work in progress and there is a long way to go. One of the most exciting developments is that the National Cancer Center has new RT equipment and they are now much more open to treating the children. This has been such a big hurdle in the past as RT is essential to so many of our treatments. When we met with the oncology team and with Dr. Enkhtur, the Hospital Director there is a plan for development of a pediatric tumor board very soon. This will bring together various specialties involved in the care of our patients to discuss treatment planning together. We sometimes take for granted these kind of multi-disciplinary conferences and their importance, but finding the right time, day and location to get together specialist spread all over the city is indeed a daunting task.

It has been wonderful to have Dana and Larry here working with us. Dana gave an awesome lecture this morning on supportive care to the nurses and they just had question after question. Larry has been quite busy seeing children with a variety of endocrine disorders and giving lectures to the residents and endocrine team.

I was also very surprised yesterday to be awarded an honorary professorship at NCMHC. I know that this is a tribute to not only my work but to that of the many other colleagues who have joined our educational teams, to Wolfson Children’s Hospital and Nemours Children’s Specialty Care for their ongoing support of Jonathan’s mission and to our many supporters in the Jacksonville community.


Team Mongolia 2019

I remember quite clearly my first visit to the National Center for Maternal Children’s Health in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia in 2012. We had been invited by our good friend Dr. Rita Browning to work with our colleagues there and to help them in their hard work to improve the outcomes for children with cancer in Mongolia. We worried at that time about how we would be received, what we could offer and would we be successful. Now 7 years and 7 trips later we have many new friends and colleagues in Mongolia, we have taught and been taught by them. But most importantly we have participated in the centers’ and teams goals of improving outcomes for children in Mongolia. Last year they shared with us the data on their success- improving survival from leukemia by over 30%.  I am excited to see the further improvements which have been made in the last year and I know it won’t be long before children diagnosed with cancer and blood disorders in Mongolia will have the same chance of cure as patients diagnosed here in Jacksonville, Florida.


Eric Reflects

As we arrive back in UB after 5 wonderful days in the Mongolia countryside, I want to reflect on last weeks adventures at the NCMCH. I think this was the best of all our trips to the hospital. Patients, parents and staff welcomed us with open arms and absolute excitement about our collaboration. I have seen so many changes at the Children’s Hospital over the last 6 years. Although there is still a long way to go, the care provided to these children has improved dramatically and the doctors seem tireless in their pursuit of cure for their patients. Old patients who we had met previously came back to say hello and I have gotten permission from Wolfson Children’s Hospital  to bring a new patient to Jacksonville for life-saving care that would not be available here in Mongolia at this time. This is what we do at Wolfson, at Nemours, at UFPTI and at UF-Jacksonville. We try to provide the best care for everyone whose path we cross to the best of our ability. And the Jacksonville community rallies around our Pediatric programs to offer the generous support that they can. I am so proud to be a part of this community.


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