Although this website is primarily dedicated to the advancement of Hopital Adventiste d’Haiti from time to time we will feature reports of trip experiences outside of Hispaniola in hope of stimulating interest in the concept of volunteerism in general.
Heading back to Nepal this coming Wednesday morning. My first trip was in 1995 when I went to Scheer Memorial Hospital (SMH) in Banepa accompanied by Orthopedic Surgery Resident Greg Dietrich. The banner image at the top was taken from my airline seat as we cruised by Mt Everest seen faintly in the background. It was an amazing trip with beautiful vistas, incredibly hospitable people and challenging cases. I vowed then to return and had the opportunity to do so a few years later when I went with then PGY-4 Orthopedic Surgery Resident Scott Nelson.
I like to think that brief experience influenced Scott’s future course of action but I knew even then that he was destined for a life of service irrespective of that exposure. On the same trip I was privileged to take my son Matt and two of his senior high school classmates Tyler Wilkins and Tom Soeprono. All three boys later claimed that mission elective had a profound effect on their lives and contributed to them ultimately choosing careers in healthcare, Matt an anesthesiologist, Tyler an interventional xray PA and Tom a psychiatrist.
We even had time to take a brief excursion on a small portion of the Annupurna Circuit trail before heading back home in time to celebrate the holidays with family and friends. It was an “expedition” remembered by all with great fondness and we all longed to return but Scheer Memorial was more or less placed on the “back burner” as we concentrated our efforts at other venues including Hopital Adventiste d’Haiti after the quake of 2010.
On Saturday, April 25, 2015, at 11:56am, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal. The epicenter was approximately 50 miles west of Kathmandu, and about 65 miles west of Banepa, where Scheer Memorial Hospital is located. The initial quake was felt at the hospital as well as the continuing aftershocks. Because buildings were not considered safe, the medical staff immediately set up an emergency operating room in the hospital courtyard even performing an emergency c-section.
None of the Nepalese or foreign doctors and staff were injured in the earthquake. However, everyone who lives on the compound slept outside the first night because of aftershocks. Only one wall in the oldest part of the hospital was cracked, otherwise the buildings are intact. However the quake and aftershocks caused damage to many homes and businesses in the villages around the hospital. Some of the staff who do not live on the compound have lost their homes.
The medical staff has worked tirelessly to treat the injured however there are pressing needs, including numerous fractures and dislocations, that remain untreated due to lack of equipment, particularly implants. Scott Nelson was contacted late last week, the need expressed and now a team has been mobilized through Loma Linda University and we are planning to leaving for Nepal midweek.
Yesterday we spent several hours gathering and sorting equipment and supplies at the Global Health Institute warehouse managed by Jerry Daly who is one of those “can-do” type of individuals who just seems to make things happen…if Jerry doesn’t have it, he will make every reasonable effort to get it for you.
One of the emails that we received from SMH stated, “We have no incident command structure. Our hospital is lacking the many policies and procedures associated with even routine medical care, so our disaster response has been make it up as you go along.” That is one of the reasons that we are so thrilled to have Hopital Adventiste d’Haiti’s (HAH) former Incident Commander, Andrew Haglund, joining us. Andrew currently works as a Director of Marketing for Loma Linda University’s Office of Enrollment but formerly served as the primary relief coordinator at HAH for several weeks after the Big Quake in January of 2010. Logistically speaking he makes life much easier for the medical staff as all we have to worry about is taking care of patients.
After leaving Jerry we moved on to Whittemore Enterprises in Rancho Cucamonga which is a world leader in the refurbished medical equipment industry since its inception over 30 years ago. Owner Bill Whittemore has been a generous supporter of our mission programs and personally came in on a Sunday to sort through countless bins of used gear to help us complete our instrument, implant and power equipment trays. Bill’s shop is a veritable “candy store” for orthopods and we greatly appreciate all of Bill’s efforts on our behalf.
We are excited and optimistic that we will be able to make a difference in the lives of many of the souls who have been traumatized by this devastating event. Though far away, Scheer Memorial Hospital is in need of your help. Every small contribution can make a huge difference. Please consider donating through Adventist Health International’s website.