Advance Team Departs for Nepal

Our advance team is on the way to Nepal.  They will lay the groundwork for our medical team to arrive two days later, ready to provide aid to the survivors of the Nepal Earthquake.

Gary departs 3

Our Advance Team is a three-person team – a doctor, a nurse and another HHI staff member.  All three are departing from different points on the globe.  In these photos, Dr. Gary Morsch, founder of HHI, is seen departing from the Kansas City airport.  The team’s nurse, Sue Mangicaro, is leaving from New Jersey.  And Julie Hefner, just recently our Liberia country director, is flying out of Monrovia, Liberia – all three bound for Kathmandu, and the earthquake disaster zone.

Gary departs 1

As he was departing from Kansas City, HHI’s hometown and HQ location, Dr. Morsch had the honor of hauling giant bags of supplies to check in for the flight, beyond his own personal gear.  This ‘luggage’ contains medical supplies, medicine and quite a bit of work and camping equipment – tents, sleeping bags and mats, gloves, water filtration and satellite phones – gear needed for a team to operate in a disaster zone.

Gary departs 5

Our medical team is made up of two doctors and four nurses.  They are packing right now and will arrive two days behind the advance team, ready to hit the ground and begin providing medical care to earthquake survivors.

You can help with Nepal Earthquake Relief.  Please give as you can.

Donate Now

 

photos by Peggy Breit & KMBC-TV9

New Epidemic Rapidly Spreads Across Haiti

Chikungunya Virus in Haiti(MAY 2014) – A new epidemic has exploded across Haiti in recent days, already sickening thousands and stressing an already taxed healthcare system.  The epidemic has doubled the amount of patients at the Heart to Heart clinics in Port-au-Prince and in Leogane.  Even some members of our HHI staff are now coming down with this illness.

chikungunya-virusAccording to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC): the Chikungunya Virus (pronounced: chih-koon-Goon-yah) appeared for the first time in the Americas in December 2013 on the island of St. Martin and from there has spread quickly across the Caribbean.  It’s an illness that has until now been confined to the other side of the world, mostly in Africa and Asia.  Now that it’s the rainy season on Hispaniola – Chikungunya is spreading exponentially in Haiti.

Chikungunya is spread by the bite of the Aedes mosquito, and while rarely fatal, it is a debilitating illness. The symptoms are similar to those of dengue fever, another disease spread by these mosquitoes.
Someone afflicted with Chikungunya will have:

  • fever
  • swollen joints
  • joint pain, sometimes severe
  • may also have a headache, muscle pain and a rash

Many people afflicted by this illness will feel better in about a week. However, in certain cases, the joint pain will become chronic and last for months, even for a few years.  Again the CDC cautions that there is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat the chikungunya virus infection.

But we’re doing what we can.  We’re increasing the number of Haitian medical staff at our clinics to handle the patient overload, working to treat the symptoms with what works – fluids and pain/fever reducing medicine, and mounting an education operation to deliver mosquito netting and to inform people as to this newest disease to afflict Haiti.

This outbreak of Chikungunya Fever is exactly why HHI needs to be prepared to respond quickly to people in need. We’ve already taken action. We had to.  But we can only sustain our response, and prepare for what comes next, by donors stepping up to help.

PLEASE CONSIDER DONATING NOW TO OUR DISASTER READINESS & RESPONSE FUND.

ARE YOU A MEDICAL PROVIDER WHO WANTS TO VOLUNTEER IN HAITI?

Aid Reaches Those in Need in the Philippines

Ray & Zeus feature size 16:9While many spent the long Thanksgiving weekend in the U.S. with family and friends, and getting into the swing of the holiday season, in the Philippines… HHI staff and volunteers continued to provide medical care and deliver aid to those in need, like Ray and his son Zeus in the photo above.

As of this writing, it’s been nearly a month since Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) struck the central Philippines.  In that time Heart to Heart International’s Advance Team and medical volunteers have held clinics in several locations in the typhoon zone on Leyte Island and Samar Island, seeing hundreds of patients for a variety of ailments.

As we wrote about in a previous post, we’ve also shipped more than 44 tons of aid containing food, shelter supplies, medicine, medical equipment and Heart to Heart Care Kits.  Those Care Kits are now in the hands of the people who need them.  Check out a few photos of what you made happen!

 

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HHI Doctor in Philippines: “I no longer felt numb, I felt a little sick…”

2013-11-25 07.15.32-1Our Advance Team in the Philippines continues to do great, exhaustive work providing healthcare for people in the typhoon disaster zone. They began in Ormoc City and recently moved to Tacloban (pictured above), the city worst hit by Haiyan/Yolanda.

The three-person Advance Team has now been bolstered with the addition of almost a dozen medical volunteers from across the US.

Recently, we featured some personal thoughts and observations from Sue Mangicaro, RN and Dr. Rick Randolph – the two medical professionals on our Advance Team.  After treating dozens upon dozens of patients each day, they still have had the stamina to write down some of what they’re experiencing.

Sue & RickHere now, the most recent dispatch from Dr. Rick Randolph…

RICK:  We held clinic in an evacuee center near the waterfront in Tacloban, after moving from a makeshift clinic in a church as the patient volume was a little sparse.  The patients in the evacuation center were grateful but without major physical pathology.  We did see a fair number of people with insomnia and stress.  Two families had lost family members.  One came in with complaints of insomnia and shoulder pain.

I always ask what happened to them during the typhoon. This one woman had lost her son and two grandchildren.  According to a pastor, the son was kind and treated his mother well.  However, he wanted to stay with his home near the waterfront to protect their possessions despite the pleas of his mother.  He and his house were swept away along with two of his children.  This woman was able to escape and held two small grandchildren on her shoulders.  We could treat the pain in her shoulders, but we couldn’t heal her heart.

2013-11-25 07.15.30After clinic, we took a tour of the waterfront.  It was still a mass of wreckage and debris.  There were children playing and laughing, although the smell of rot was pervasive.  The views were stunning but after a while, you just felt a little numb. 

As we took a cleared street back, we passed the body of a baby. There was a small cross constructed from sticks and the body was covered with a mat.  We asked some people standing nearby about the baby’s body.  They said that the body had probably been recovered from the wreckage and dropped off along the road.

One of us commented that it was sad that the parents had lost a baby and didn’t know where the body was.  The bystanders said that the parents were probably dead too.  I no longer felt numb, I felt a little sick…


2013-11-25 07.15.33Please support Heart to Heart International by Donating Now
to our Disaster Readiness & Response Fund
.
Your donations will help deliver aid and support our relief efforts
in the Philippines, as well as help keep HHI prepared for
disasters like Typhoon Haiyan.

A Report from the Typhoon Disaster Zone (Part Two)

Dr. Rick w/ BabyOur Advance Team is on the ground on Leyte Island in the Philippines delivering direct patient care to hundreds of people who need it. One doctor & one nurse seeing hundreds of patients. That is changing, as more Heart to Heart International volunteers are arriving.

Our Advance Team:
Rick Randolph, MD
is a physician based in the Kansas City Metro, and a HHI board member.
Sue Mangicaro, RN 
is volunteering for the Advance Team, on “loan” from Welch Allyn where she is the Director of Clinical Affairs.
Julie Hefner,
a HHI staffer & Team Lead

What follows is some of Dr. Rick’s observations during his time treating patients in the disaster zone.  To read comments from Sue in Part One, click here.

2013-11-19 14.42.27RICK: This deployment was off to a hectic start for me.  I was out of town when the Typhoon struck and I committed to deploy with HHI while in New Orleans.  That compressed the preparation time since I had patients scheduled for the week.  My practice is used to my trips and generously accommodated my request for time off.

After meeting with the Heart to Heart staff, Julie Hefner and I flew to Los Angeles to meet up with Sue Mangicaro and then on to Cebu, Philippines.  It was a long flight over a total of 14 time zones and we were exhausted the day we arrived with jet lag.  

At the Ormoc city hall we met Commander Joseph Ring of the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Mustin.  He had two helicopters and was the on scene commander for the US military lead relief efforts.  Very handy.  Upon our arrival, we received a request for medical support for a village in the hills.  Cmdr. Ring dispatched a helicopter to the village and within 30 minutes we received a medical assessment from the Navy medic that there was no major medical needs, although they did desperately need food and clean water.  That saved us a day of walking into the mountains (the only other way to get there) for a place where there wasn’t a great medical need.  

2013-11-22 15.31.53At our first clinic at a local church where we were assigned, we saw about 75 patients in a shortened day. There were some injuries from the typhoon and a lot of illness from the contaminated water and the smoke in the air from burning debris (intentionally burned for disposal).  There were also several with chronic illness and a significant number of those who were severely stressed by their circumstances who can’t sleep or who somaticize {ed. note: anxiety converted into physical symptoms}.

The force of the Typhoon is evident in the substantial structures as well as the small houses.  The larger structures absorbed more force and roofs and walls were taken down.  The smaller houses were less substantial and had less structural strength and many were totally destroyed.
2013-11-20 13.29.15There is debris everywhere. The roads are mostly cleared to some extent.  Smoke is everywhere as people burn trash and debris. 

There is no electricity and probably won’t be for at least 6 months.  Generators are the only source of power.  The hotel where we stay {pic on right} has a large one and has established dozens of outlets outside the hotel for people to charge their cell phones, run their nebulizers for asthma and just watch the TV in the lobby for news.

Ormoc City is a functioning city.  The economy is turning back on and the health of the people isn’t too bad. The streets are bustling with activity.  Tacloban, on the other hand, has disintegrated.  There are many internally displaced persons from Tacloban in Ormoc despite the 100 kilometer distance.

Please support Heart to Heart International by Donating Now
to our Disaster Readiness & Response Fund
.
Your donations will help deliver aid and support our relief efforts
in the Philippines, as well as help keep HHI prepared for
disasters like Typhoon Haiyan.

A Report from the Typhoon Disaster Zone

Dr Rick & Nurse Sue

Our Advance Team has been on the ground in the Philippines working in and around Ormoc City for several days now.  It’s made up of three people: a HHI staffer, a doctor and a nurse.  While they have been working through the logistics of deploying more medical volunteers (that are arriving), they have also been traveling and have seen hundreds of patients in a variety of locations with myriad afflictions. One doctor & one nurse. Seeing hundreds of patients.

Rick Randolph, MD is a physician based in the Kansas City Metro, and a HHI board member.
Sue Mangicaro, RN 
is volunteering for the Advance Team, on “loan” from Welch Allyn where she is the Director of Clinical Affairs.

What follows is some of what Sue has seen and done in the past few days in the Philippines.

2013-11-19 14.00.13SUE:  This one afternoon was spent seeing more than 50 patients in a barangay (neighborhood) a short distance from our first clinic.  While not far, the damage here was more severe and there were more casualties.  When we arrived we learned that large sacks of rice had been delivered just a short time before, and we had little space to set up.  But going with our “make do” approach we compromised and set up an “exam area” among the rice sacks.

The patients Dr. Rick and I saw had infections from nail punctures, lacerations and open wounds from the rubble and debris from the typhoon.  Many appeared to have  post traumatic stress but all were extremely grateful for the care.  Toward the end of the day we met a young man who had lost everything in the typhoon, and then to make matter worse had lost his wallet while trying to get food for his family.

He had a badly infected foot that had been cut by some tin scrap.  He needed a tetanus shot, antibiotics and to have his leg cleaned and apply a dressing. He began to weep when I was applying the bandages, not because of the pain, but because of everything he had been through and was going through.  We all prayed with him and he left smiling, and returned with his 5-year-old son to be checked out.  Fortunately, he just needed reassurance – something so easy to give, so hard to receive by the many victims of the disaster.

Look for more reports from Sue, and hear from Dr. Rick in our next blog installment.

Please support Heart to Heart International by Donating Now
to our Disaster Readiness & Response Fund
.
Your donations will help deliver aid and support our relief efforts
in the Philippines, as well as help keep HHI prepared for
disasters like Typhoon Haiyan.