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HOPE works in more than 35 countries worldwide. Please enjoy our blog as we document the successes and challenges of our work to provide Health Opportunities for People Everywhere.
Posted By: Jon Brack on May 28, 2015
As our group of Project HOPE disaster response volunteers wraps up several weeks in Nepal, we've been reflecting back on our wonderful patients and the Nepali medical professionals who we've been able to partner with to treat them. Most of this work has happened at the Manmohan Memorial Teaching Hospital, though volunteers have also spent several days at the Hope Heritage Senior Center and Israel's IDF Medical Corps Field Hospital.
Two of our Massachusetts General Hospital volunteers had an additional opportunity to help a Nepali area in need, but this time well outside of Kathmandu. Dr. Paul Biddinger and Nurse Practitioner Lindsey Martin joined a 25 member team in the Dolakha district near the epicenter of the April 25th earthquake, a 6-8 hour drive from the city. This mission to establish a two-day medical field clinic was coordinated by the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) and included staff from multiple countries. In two days the field clinic saw 436 patients, many of whom walked a long distance to see one of their doctors, nurses, or midwives. Though most of the patients were only treated for primary care complaints and not earthquake-related injuries, Lindsey reported that just being there and displaying international support during a time of need was very important for the region's post-earthquake recovery. “I cannot overstate that our presence was the best medicine.
At the Manmohan Memorial Hospital, HOPE volunteers assisted with surgeries in the Operating Room, wound dressing changes in the Orthopedic Surgical Ward, critical care in the Intensive Care Unit, emergency care in the Emergency Room, and administrative coordination with Dr. Shrestha, the Hospital Director. Overall, during the time period that HOPE volunteers were at Manmohan, the hospital saw 851 outpatient visits, 46 operations, 152 ER visits, and 83 inpatient admissions. HOPE volunteers helped care for many of these patients and got to know several of them very well. Patients and volunteers exchanged stories about their families and homes, shared pictures of their children, and grew close despite the trauma and tragedy that drew them together. It was difficult saying goodbye, but we all knew that the Nepali are a strong and determined people who will recover and rebuild. We look forward to visiting their country again during a happier and more prosperous time.
Posted By: Jon Brack on May 27, 2015
As we marked the one-month anniversary of Nepal's destructive earthquake, Project HOPE's Gifts in Kind (GIK) team has been active in-country for most of that time coordinating the arrival of donated medicines and medical supplies. To date, almost $6.7 million in donations has arrived in five separate shipments and been delivered to Nepal's Ministry of Health and Population in Kathmandu. Each shipment consisted of four pallets of 32 heavy, white boxes, plain and durable on the outside but full of important supplies inside that will be distributed by the Ministry to all 14 districts effected by the earthquake.
Project HOPE'smedical volunteers helped at the Manmohan Memorial Teaching Hospital since their arrival within days of the first earthquake and were there for the second earthquake that shook Kathmandu on May 12th. With the resulting influx of patients, especially those with terrible wounds, the hospital depleted much of its stock of disposable items such as sterile gloves and gauze and had neither the funds or the attention of the Ministry to replenish their stocks. HOPE's GIK team sourced these items locally so that our volunteers could arrive at the hospital with the supplies they needed and restocked the hospital for the future.
The hospital was also in need of more medicines, many of which had already arrived in the 128 boxes of Project HOPE donations that had arrived from the United States. Through an expedited chain of command, HOPE was able to organize early access to these medicines at the Ministry of Health to personally deliver Manmohan's share of some of their most needed medications. Digging though those boxes was a lengthy process and the medications were delivered to the hospital and immediately put into use.
There has also been another donation to Manmohan, but this one came directly from one of our volunteers. Dr. Allen Webb helped for several days in the hospital's ER including during the aftermath of the second earthquake. While talking with the nurses there, he realized that they lacked a refrigerator to keep medications cold in that wing of the hospital. With his direct donation, a small refrigerator was purchased by the GIK team and delivered to the ER for them to use. Everyone there was delighted and it went straight into the head nurse's office for immediate use.
In the coming weeks, several more in GIK donation shipments will arrive in Kathmandu. Next in the pipeline is a load of vaccines, HOPE's most complicated shipment because of specific temperature requirements. The GIK team will be busy for weeks more guaranteeing the safe arrival of these important donations to the people of Nepal in such a time of need.
Posted By: Ted Wendel on May 26, 2015
Legend has it that civilization in the Kathmandu Valley started when Buddha stood atop the highest peak and commanded that the huge lake in the valley below be drained. The valley quickly emptied and the fertilized land became the foundation for civilization in Nepal.
The peak on which Buddha stood is now Swayambhunath. It is better known as the Monkey Temple. At the top is an ancient Stupa that has stood for three thousand years. From its summit there is a breathtaking view of the entire Kathmandu valley and a thriving metropolis.
Hundreds of thousands have visited the Monkey Temple but the recent earthquakes in Nepal have caused severe damage to this historic treasure and homes of the 29 families who reside there.
When physician’s assistants Don and Kathy Pedersen from Utah volunteered in Nepal with Project HOPE after the earthquake, they were eager to visit the Monkey Temple and provide care for its residents.
The couple had actually been in the exact location, on another humanitarian health mission, just days before the April 25th earthquake struck.
“We could never have imagined that within a day, this religious shrine would be reduced to piles of rubble,” said Don Perdersen. “It was heartbreaking. The physical destruction was overwhelming. The main stupa escaped serious damage but many of the other temples and most of the homes were destroyed.”
After providing care at a hospital in Kathmandu with Project HOPE volunteers, Don returned to the Monkey Temple establishing a small, outdoor clinic amongst the ruins. For three days, he trekked to the top carrying needed supplies to help people who had little access to medical care.
“The 220 residents of the Monkey Temple trace their origins back over 1600 years to the first residents of the Kathmandu valley,” said Don. “They are young and old, religious leaders and merchants, and they have dedicated their existence to maintaining the treasured relics that are so important to the people of Kathmandu. They are now living under tarps in the small area that was once a courtyard.”
Fortunately, most of the residents escaped major injuries following the two major quakes, but there were a litany of minor injuries from severe abrasions to the psychological impact of surviving such a massive upheaval.
It will take a lot of work to return Swayambhunath to its historic existence. But, the recovery has started. Don Pedersen and Project HOPE can be proud that they were there to help the residents of the Monkey Temple as they begin the process of rebuilding one of the world’s most important historic landmarks.
Posted By: Jon Brack on May 22, 2015
Several of Project HOPE volunteers in Kathmandu, Nepal, have spent the past few days helping at the Hope Heritage Senior Center. The center focuses most of their efforts on Alzheimer's and dementia care but also have been taking on more critical patients since the massive earthquake on April 25th. They currently have 16 residents and five daycare clients but would like to expand their operations and have looked to Project HOPE for assistance in patient care and expertise in helping with future planning. The facility's director has been seeking out seniors left without homes or families after the earthquakes, so their numbers are expected to rise soon.
Located in a nice but normal residential house in a quiet neighborhood of Kathmandu, the facility is not designed for senior citizens but their staff is making due. Their clients include two stroke victims and several with various forms of neurodegenerative diseases, mainly Alzheimer's. Non-resident patients live at home with their families at night, but because of these diseases, spend their days in the care and watchful eye of the senior center. Two older men with Alzheimer's, one who use to work for the UN, are always at each other's side exploring the garden, at meals, and even insist on sharing the same room at night.
Project HOPE volunteer nurses Cherri, Nick, and Monica have spent several days helping at the senior center assisting with baths, wound care, and patient mobility. Cherri and Monica had a challenging patient on their first day. This older gentleman, crippled by age and a hip problem, had lost his house in the earthquake and hasn't been able to contact any family in the aftermath. He refused to get out of bed and reported through a translator that he was only interested in laying there and dying. The following morning he was far more responsive, especially when offered a bath. With extremely limited mobility, Nick and Cherri weren't sure how they would get him outside to the balcony where the bucket of warm water was waiting. With the use of a walker and some assistance, it ended up he could make the trip outside and back very slowly, delighting himself in the process. Freshly cleaned and back in bed, he was all smiles and appreciative of their help. This marked such progress that Nick was able to successfully walk him in circles on the balcony the following day.
Through connections with Handicap International, Project HOPE has been able to organize the donation of more walkers and other equipment to help with patient care and mobility at the Hope Heritage Senior Center. Handicap International will also start a physical therapy routine desperately needed by their residents, especially the stroke victims. It is excellent to see the senior citizens of Nepal having such strong advocates during a complicated and challenging time for their country.
Posted By: Ted Wendel on May 21, 2015
In the hours following the second earthquake in Nepal, on May 12, there was much to do. It was obvious that the team from Massachusetts General Hospital had trained for just such a moment. The Project HOPE team included eight members of the Mass General Global Disaster Response team lead by Dr. Paul Beddinger.
The Mass General team was at the Monmohan Memorial Teaching Hospital as the quake struck. Their quick assessment of the situation allowed for a rapid evacuation of the patients into the open spaces surrounding the hospital. The calm efficient response by the Mass General team helped to reduce the fear and panic being felt by patients who were injured in the first quake. The team also anticipated an influx of new patients and created a triage system.
The patients arrived slowly at first. The streets were crowded with those fleeing the city. Ambulances and rescue teams found in hard to negotiate the traffic surge. Eventually patients found their way to the triage area in the hospital parking lot. Fortunately the numbers were not overwhelming. There were lots of cuts and bruises. The scene was surreal. Patients sitting on the curb were surrounded by a small flotilla of bedridden patients.
As evening drew close, the team established a camp on a small patch of weeds just outside of the emergency room. At least for this night they needed to be close. The patients were moved back into the hospital lobby and a semblance of order and calm returned.
The Project HOPE volunteers worked very closely with the hospital staff. The evening was long and, in spite of a major earthquake, there were patients who needed care. There were so many selfless acts of kindness it seems impossible to describe them all. Nurses sitting on the bed of a scared child, a counselor calmly talking to frightened elderly patients and so many more small gestures. These things could easily be overlooked but they meant so much. No one would have noticed if the team retired to their tents as the evening grew long. But the Project HOPE volunteers were still working at midnight.
Two members of the Mass General team noticed that an elderly gentleman’s wound needed a new dressing. They could have put it off. No one would have faulted them. They started work at 8 am that morning and had experienced one of the most severe earthquakes in recent memory. They worked non-stop for over 16 hours. They could have left the dressing change until morning. But they knew it needed to be done to help the wound heal. So, at midnight they assembled the supplies. They didn’t rush because it was late. They took their time so the patient felt less pain. They worked as a team. They finished just before 1 am and took the time to check all of the forty patients before they went to the team’s luxury accommodations in a field now crowded with makeshift shelters.
It is truly inspiring to work with a well-trained and dedicated team of professionals. The people of Nepal will remember the Project HOPE volunteers as high quality, caring people.