UH Med Now
First medical exchange brings doctors from Ehime Prefecture to JABSOM to study, collaborate, and remember the 2001 sinking of the Ehime Maru
Pictured: Drs. Yuki Hamamatsu, Keiko Tange and other visiting Japanese physicians learn in the JABSOM SimTiki laboratory with Dr. Benjamin Berg (wearing red) and Dr. Satoshi Jujo (lying down). Deborah Manog Dimaya photos.
By Tina Shelton and Deborah Manog Dimaya, UH Med Now
The young doctor was only eight years old when the USS Greeneville, an American Navy submarine, surfaced unexpectedly in Hawaii waters, toppling and sinking the Ehime Maru, a fishing boat from Uwajima Fisheries High School in Japan that was training high schoolers interested in becoming commercial fishers. Nine Japanese, both students and teachers died.
One of the dead was the father of Dr. Yusuke Tominaga’s friend. Tominaga is among a group of young MDs visiting UH this month in the first medical cultural exchange connected to the “sister city” friendship program created between Honolulu and Uwajima after the sinking of the Ehime Maru.
Dr. Tominaga and the other young doctors from Uwajima City Hospital have been taking hands-on classes in the patient simulation laboratory at the John A. Burns School of Medicine. It provides intensive, emergency room-style practice with both human patient volunteers and high-fidelity patient simulators. It is an intensive method of training different from the way Japanese doctors are taught – and something they find valuable.
“(This provides) more reality than Japanese situation, so we are very nervous, nervous, nervous and good for study, reality,” said Dr. Keisuke Funaki, also training with Uwajima City Hospital.
The doctors are learning how to cope with patients experiencing shock, trauma and heart attack, among other emergencies. They do not usually train in teams, so that is another part of the American medical school training they say they find fascinating.
Their studies include lectures in addition to laboratory work. The visiting Japanese medical doctors also toured the medical school’s Hyperbaric Treatment Center, which treats victims of ocean accidents. The Uwajima City Hospital Program Director, Japanese Cardiologist Akiyoshi Ogimoto, hopes the medical cultural exchange will continue and even expand.
“I would like to expand this relationship to other professional people, American, not only doctors but nurses and other professions,” said Dr. Akiyoshi Ogimoto, the Uwajima City Hospital Chief of Cardiology leading the student group from Uwajima City, the former home port of the Ehime Maru.
On Sunday, February 9, the young doctors brought flower lei to the Ehime Maru Memorial at Kakaako Waterfront Park, joining families of those killed in the boat’s sinking 19 years ago in a formal ceremony. One by one, the physicians, including Dr. Yusuke Tominaga, stepped forward, placed their flowers on the chains surrounding the boat’s anchor at the memorial, then bowed in reverence.