“Around lunchtime as my friends and I were on the second story of a shop in Pokahara we started to feel the building move. Everyone quickly headed for the stairs while remaining fairly composed. It wasn’t until we were all outside and the earthquake continued and seemed to build in strength that those around started yelling and pointing at nearby trees and power lines which they feared might fall on them. Some people were crying and holding onto their loved ones. There were dogs running by whining and whimpering. The shaking and writhing of the ground seemed to last for about 20 to 30 seconds.”
This is a direct account by a Loma Linda University student that was published as a CNN iReport shortly after the recent earthquake in Nepal. Submitted by Justin Woods, a fourth-year medical student from Loma Linda University, Woods is currently finishing a rotation at the Adventist Health International site Scheer Memorial Hospital. Scheduled to leave Nepal in early May, Woods and his wife, Betsy, a nurse, both experienced the quake firsthand.
In addition to Woods, Charles Graves, another fourth-year medical student from Loma Linda University, was also finishing his rotation at Scheer and was able to fly out of Nepal the day after the earthquake.
Catastrophic situation in Nepal
At a magnitude of 7.8, the earthquake caused irrevocable damage to the lives of thousands. Structural damage, demolished homes, and injuries will continue to cause death due to infections and other health issues. The aftermath is catastrophic.
Patients wait for tents to be put up for on-site triaging and care of the injured.
As of May 4, the Nepali government reported 7,365 killed and 14,355 injured by the earthquake; additionally, the earthquake has destroyed 191,058 homes and damaged 175,162 homes to date, according to a report by the United Nations.
Along with these devastating numbers, nearly 90 percent of the health facilities within Ramechapp, Nuwakot, Sindhupalchowk and Gorkha have been severely damaged and are unable to help people.
Situation at Scheer Memorial Hospital
Located 15 kilometers east of Kathmandu, in Banepa, Nepal, Scheer Memorial Hospital received minimal structural damage and is still active. During the earthquake, all staff and patients were moved outside into makeshift tent hospitals, and two cesarean sections were performed on the spot while the aftershocks continued. Scheer is a facility with the capacity of 82 beds, is now servicing the needs of nearly 200 inpatients is ever growing.
Healthcare workers work busily to save lives after the powerful quake.
“Scheer has become a major treatment center for the earthquake, due to its proximity to many of the mountain villages,” says Richard Hart, MD, DrPH, president of Adventist Health International.
While the reports from the hospital are continuously positive, there is a growing need for orthopedic and trauma surgeons to care for the increasing volume of victims with crush injuries now coming to Scheer.
To help meet this need, Loma Linda University Health is deploying an orthopedic surgical team currently scheduled to depart early Wednesday morning. The team will be small consisting of two orthopedic surgeons, an anesthesiologist, an OR scrub tech or nurse and a logistics and support person. Once the team arrives at the hospital, it will be easier to receive frequent and accurate updates, which will serve to guide future relief efforts.
In a Facebook post, written on April 28, Scheer Memorial Hospital’s official site said, “Yes, we were and still are in the earthquake zone. We are still having aftershocks. Yes, we were not hit as hard as some places, but we were hit. We are devastated, but feel strong and glad that we are helping so many of our beloved and precious citizens. We are overwhelmed by the love we have had from around the world. Please keep your prayers coming. Right now that is the best thing you can do for us. Please know that we are strong, although sad, but ready to keep going and we are so thankful to the Lord for His blessings.”
How to help
Until a sense of what is needed is clearly defined, funds are the primary source of aid being solicited through Adventist Health International. These funds go to support the operation of the hospital and the patients it serves in the Banepa region of Nepal. Adventist Health International and the Global Health Institute are working together in this collaboration with Loma Linda University Health and once needs are identified, appropriate medical equipment and supplies will be procured to enable the hospital teams to care for the many injured patients.
To help in the relief of this crisis, please donate funds through ahiglobal.org or go directly to the donation page by clicking HERE.
Courtney Beckwith Haas is a Communications Specialist for Global Health International at Loma Linda University Health.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6792