AGAINST A SEA OF TROUBLES
ship’s resources for those with acute illnesses or injuries.”
On the day it opened, the field hospital treated 65 patients. The second day brought 85, and there were 131 on the third, according to Lu Jing, the head nurse. The facility is now receiving more than 200 patients every day and is open 24/7 so treatment can be provided for as many people as possible, she said, adding that the “patient radius” has widened. .
“Initially, most of the patients came from the surrounding villages, but as word spread, people started to arrive from a city 200 kilometers away.”
Leyte Provincial Hospital was badly damaged during the typhoon, forcing the immediate suspension of services. Standing just 2 kilometers inland, the hospital was engulfed by surging water, and some of its roofs were washed away.
As the largest hospital in the region, the LPH usually receives an average of 100 patients a day, according to Rosalle Uy, the supervising nurse. Haiyan not only damaged the
Working alongside local people and disaster relief teams from other countries, including France, the Peace Ark’s crew helped repair some of the hospital’s roofs and cleaned up the debris and mud in some rooms. They also erected tents to be used as storage facilities and staff dormitories and built a helicopter pad, plus a jetty for water transfers.
Standing at the jetty, which bears a painted red cross and the name “Peace Ark”, the vessel was easily visible as it rode at anchor in the gulf, gleaming in the tropical sun.
The journey from the field hospital to the ship takes less than 10 minutes by helicopter and around 30 by speedboat.
“Unfortunately, transport is still a big problem for us, especially in bad weather,” said Chen.
He recalled an hour he spent waiting at the jetty in a downpour with a patient. The patient was losing blood and Chen was desperate to get him aboard the Peace Ark. “The weather was too bad for the helicopter. I was very anxious as I watched the boat slowly draw closer in the choppy water. In emergencies, delays can sometimes prove fatal,” he said.
Transport difficulties aside, Chen said the field hospital needs more staff and equipment to provide further treatment.
“As the only emergency surgeon, I’ve only had six hours sleep in the past two days, but patients with acute injuries still need to be sent to the hospital ship.” Contact the writer at pengyining@ chinadaily.com.cn
A Chinese doctor provides advice to mothers at a temporary medical facility in Tacloban, Philippines.
Chen Ruifeng checks Joyoe Gadia, whose leg was crushed during the typhoon.