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Posted By: John P. Howe, III, M.D. on October 20, 2010

Labels: China , Global Health Expertise, Women’s and Children’s Health

Two weeks after the Sichuan Province earthquake in May 2008,  Project HOPE Chairman Dr. Charles Sanders and I visited Du Jiang Yan City, located less than an hour from the quake’s epicenter, and saw firsthand the tragic devastation.

A little more than one year after the quake, I returned to Du Jiang Yan City. Rubble from the destruction was still visible. I toured a temporary hospital still brimming with patients from the local community. But I also saw the roots of the reconstruction beginning to emerge.

Now, as the van I ride in approaches Du Jiang Yan City, I see a new, modern, vibrant and blossoming city. The scars from the terrible quake virtually erased. And at the heart of the city’s rebirth is the beautiful Du Jiang Yan People’s Hospital.

Built on 100 acres, the 650-bed hospital was recognized by China’s President Hu as one of the best hospitals in China. The facility was even awarded a prestigious architecture award given to only a handful of buildings throughout China.

The Du Jiang Yan Hospital is also home to a state-of-the art rehabilitation center nearly 100 percent furnished by Project HOPE. I met three inspirational patients in the unit, who suffered injuries as a result of the 2008 earthquake – two of the patients were injured the day of the quake and the third was a young volunteer who was injured in a mudslide, while assisting earthquake survivors. All three were extremely optimistic about their futures and grateful for the care they are receiving at the center.

Not available prior to the earthquake, the rehabilitation medicine center now benefits the Du Jiang Yan community and region at large. I talked to two men in the center who were rehabilitating from stroke. In both cases, the strokes may have been caused by hypertension – a chronic condition that is a growing concern throughout China. In addition, the center is combining Western medicine with traditional Chinese medicine to enhance patient outcomes.

The Pediatric Unit was my next stop on the hospital tour. Eight doctors and nurses on staff were graduates of HOPE’s Rural Fellow Training Program or trainees from the Abbott Fund Institute of Nutrition Science. I met two Fellows who beamed as they shared stories about training and how it helped them improve the care they provided to children.

As I left the Unit, I was overwhelmed by a show-stopping smile of a seven-year-old girl. The fever and aches caused by the flu could not stifle her smile. Her infectious optimism demonstrated for me the tremendous resiliency of the people of Sichuan Province.

To assist in the rebuilding efforts of Du Jiang Yan City, not long ago, Shanghai government officials provided more than $1 billion. Recently, as Shanghai officials left Du Jiang Yan City after their last reconstruction meeting, City residents lined the streets for 10 miles waving their hands in an expression of gratitude. They truly have much to be thankful for.

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