Sep 14, 2022

Lessons learned at Medtronic help one employee improve healthcare in Vietnam

Joe Lontai blends medical device skills with military service

Time away from work can sometimes be quite an adventure for Joe Lontai.

A few weeks ago, he took on a challenge: helping improve how Vietnam’s healthcare systems treat patients during natural disasters.

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Lontai at Vietnam Disaster management Exchange.jpb -- Caption: Joe Lontai at Vietnam Disaster Management Exchange

Lontai is an Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) area sales manager in Oregon and Alaska, and also a member of the Oregon National Guard. In that capacity, he serves as director of a program called Pacific Partnership, a 10-year information-exchanging relationship between Vietnam and the Oregon National Guard. He recently spent two weeks in Vietnam supporting the effort.

“I did a lot of planning and resource managing,” Lontai said. “It was a busy two weeks, but very rewarding.”

Vietnam and parts of Oregon both experience severe floods during their rainy seasons and face similar challenges providing healthcare during such emergencies.

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Khanh Hoa 01 – Vietnamese medical ship

The Oregon Guard, along with the U.S. military, exchanged information with emergency response leaders in Vietnam’s Phu Yen province. They talked about everything from establishing efficient healthcare workflows during natural disasters to providing advice and guidance on emergency command systems.

“We learned about the Vietnamese system of hospital care and disaster management, and we introduced concepts that work in the U.S. to Vietnam,” Lontai said. “The result from years of these exchanges is that if there’s ever an international incident, we’re already established partners.”

The U.S. Navy also conducted live disaster training exercises, and U.S. and Vietnamese military medical providers performed 226 side-by-side surgeries on real-world Vietnamese patients.

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Medical training on board U.S. Navy Mercy medical ship

“I couldn’t do any of this work without Medtronic and its support of veteran employees,” Lontai said. “I’m away from work, but I’m still fulfilling our Mission, by helping expand access to quality healthcare for people in another country.”

Medtronic has a long history of supporting veteran employees.

More than 1,200 military veterans now work at Medtronic facilities in the U.S. alone, and the company actively recruits veterans for job openings. Medtronic provides paid time off for veterans like Lontai to fulfill their military reserve obligations. And if Medtronic employees in the National Guard and Reserves get deployed, the company holds their jobs for up to five years and continue to pay their salaries. Learn more about the Medtronic commitment to veterans.

Last year the Department of Defense recognized Medtronic with the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, the U.S. government’s highest recognition for employers supporting their Guard and Reserve employees.

“My experience in healthcare is invaluable in this work,” Lontai said. “This exchange is helping save lives. And I get to be an international ambassador, not only for my country, but for our company, thanks to Medtronic’s support of veterans.”