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

A Clinic That Ebola Closed

The Life Care Health Clinic is just one clinic in the Liberian countryside, but its story is shared by so many across this country.  It’s a story of frustration, incapacity and loss of knowing what could possibly be done next.

Life Care Health Clinic

The clinic is located in the interestingly named Soul Clinic community of Paynesville, a suburb of Monrovia, Liberia.  Our team – myself, Gary, Sue, Dan – along with James, our guide, came to learn more about how health providers are faring in this time of Ebola, and to provide some supplies we had brought with us. We had an opportunity to sit and talk with the small clinic staff and listened mostly to Mr. Tia, the clinic administrator, as he talked about his clinic, the community and what they’ve had to deal with.

This tiny clinic has a two-bed male ward, two-bed female ward, a delivery room, a pharmacy, and it serves a community of about 4,000 people.  When Ebola came into their community they were unprepared for the onslaught of patients, and woefully under-supplied and under-staffed.

They had no way to protect themselves from the Ebola virus, nor did they have a way to determine who actually has Ebola or who has something else like a bad case of malaria or cholera.  At first they tried to just turn away those that had symptoms, but it quickly became clear that it was hard to tell who was infected with Ebola and who wasn’t.  So the difficult decision was made that they simply must close the clinic.

Gary & Sue at Soul Clinic

Sue & Gary with Life Care Health Clinic staff in Liberia

 

Mr. Tia told us that out of 50 deaths in the past few months, maybe 20 to 30 are from Ebola and that perhaps the rest could have been prevented with regular medical care, but there is no way for people to get treated now.  Beyond Ebola, his biggest concern is people dying of malaria, which is so much more common than Ebola.

We listened, sitting on the porch of the clinic as the African rains fell, and thanked Mr. Tia and his staff for sharing their stories and concerns.  Before we departed, we left one of our Ready Relief Boxes full of medical supplies, thermometers, disposable stethoscopes and blood pressure cuffs.

We wanted to do more.  As we drove away we hoped that soon we will.

 

A Return to the Philippines

A Filipino man carries a HHI Ready Relief Box onto a beach on Isla Gigantes, Philippines, after offloading it from a boat.Heart to Heart International has returned to the Philippines – leading a second team of volunteer medical providers to operate makeshift clinics and bring healthcare to people in far-flung regions of the island nation.

This follows the first wave of our Typhoon Relief Operations and the successful deployment of more than two dozen medical volunteers and staff in November/December of 2013 to areas like Tacloban and Ormoc in the wake of the devastating Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda.
You can read about those efforts HERE, HERE and HERE.

This second team is smaller but more mobile, as they travel across the central Philippines by air, by vehicle and by boat in order to reach quite remote locations.  The folks living in these areas, Isla Gigantes for example, were pummeled by Haiyan/Yolanda, yet have seen very little aid – and no medical attention to speak of.

So far, the team – made up of three HHI staff, a doctor, a physician’s assistant (PA) and 4 nurses – has met and treated nearly 400 people in just a couple of days.  From here, the team will travel to the large island of Samar, visiting communities that took the full brunt of the typhoon and are still dealing with the aftermath.

Click on the images below to see more from the Heart to Heart International team in the Philippines…

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.

Relief Airlift for the Philippines

Forklift 1FedEx, Direct Relief and Heart to Heart International have teamed up to deliver nearly 100 tons of material, medical aid and supplies to people suffering in the Philippines from Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda).

Our share of the aid – 88,700 pounds – left our Global Distribution Center Tuesday, November 19 and will be trucked to Los Angeles, loaded onto a FedEx MD-11 to fly to Cebu City in the central Philippines.

Read more about the Relief Airlift below:

FEDEX, DIRECT RELIEF, AND HEART TO HEART INTERNATIONAL TEAM UP TO DELIVER SUPPLIES AND AID TO PHILIPPINES

MEMPHIS, Tenn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–  FedEx Corp. (FDX), Direct Relief and Heart to Heart International have teamed up to deliver more than $10 million worth of relief aid and medical supplies to communities across the typhoon-ravaged Philippines. The shipment, containing nearly 200,000 lbs. of both pharmaceuticals and medical supplies, is scheduled to depart from Los Angeles on Saturday, November 23.

“FedEx team members around the globe are committed to assisting with the recovery effort,” said Frederick W. Smith, chairman, president and CEO of FedEx Corp. “As we have done throughout our 40-year history, FedEx is using its global network and logistical expertise to connect non-profit organizations and their relief supplies to the communities most in need.”

The FedEx relationships with Heart to Heart International and Direct Relief date back to 1995 and 2003, respectively. Throughout the years, FedEx has activated its global network to deliver critical and life-saving support to lessen the pain and loss experienced by victims of natural disasters.

“With a disaster of this magnitude, it is imperative that Heart to Heart International rapidly respond with critically-needed aid and supplies,” said Krystal Barr, interim CEO, Heart to Heart International. “Our relationship with FedEx has made that possible for us to do around the world for nearly two decades, and now again for our Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) relief effort. Working with FedEx and with Direct Relief, we know we can make a positive impact for the people of the Philippines.”

The FedEx charter flight departing on Saturday will carry nearly 200,000 lbs. of relief supplies destined for communities in and around Cebu. Onboard cargo includes:

  • Personal care and hygiene items
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • First aid kits

READ THE REST OF THE PRESS RELEASE

The Heart to Heart Experience…

No Ballrooms. No Ball Gowns.

For our 20th Anniversary, Heart to Heart is creating The Experience, an immersion into the world where Heart to Heart works and is making a difference daily in the lives of people in need.

We’re doing things differently.

Instead of hosting a formal gala event (which are always a great time!), this year we’re doing something more.  We’re creating The Heart to Heart Experience.

It’ll be held inside our Global Distribution Center, the hub of our logistics operations, and will be unlike anything we’ve done before, and likely attendees haven’t experienced either.  Attendees will enjoy hands-on, interactive scenarios along with opportunities to network, enjoy some world cuisine, catch up with friends and partners, and provide continuing support for Heart to Heart as we move into the next 20 years of operation.

There will be plenty more information to come…  For now, please check out The Heart to Heart Experience to read more and to purchase your tickets!

We’ll see you there!

DW HHI

Assessment Team in Guatemala… Part II

Our joint Heart to Heart & Welch Allyn Assessment Team continues to travel in Guatemala, exploring ways to broaden access to healthcare.
More now from Ginny Stehle, Heart to Heart’s Corporate Relations Director, with more thoughts and photos from the ongoing assessment trip. Part I is here. Remember to click the photos for full size.
–DW HHI

June 5/6, 2012
Guatemala City & Antigua

Ginny:  The team returned to Camino Seguro in Guatemala City to work as volunteers for the day.  We began at the main school building where we assisted with a high school English class. We sat and carried on a conversation with one or more teenagers, ages 16-18, to help them improve their English skills.  A young teacher from the UK named Grant, gave us some assistance to get the conversations going. It was challenging to find questions that would get them to talk. They are just like young people everywhere! They have hopes and dreams, they struggle with understanding what they want to do with their lives, they experience peer pressure and want to appear as though they fit in.  They were polite and cooperative.

 

 

 

 

Our next stop was the Planting Seeds preschool and we arrived just in time for recess.  The children were released to the playground for this period to have free play.  There were about 90 children between the ages of three and six. What a hoot!  The Welch Allyn team members were assigned to assist the teachers with supervising and playing with the children. The team members jumped right in and it was very difficult to tell who enjoyed the one on one interaction more–the children or the volunteers.  It was interesting to see that these children were already speaking some English to the volunteers more easily than the older children who did not have access to this program prior to high school.

Two lovely Guatemalan women, Isa and Martha, were already very busy in the kitchen when I arrived. I was assigned to drying platos (plates), and watched as Martha expertly began to mix Masa Harina with water to make tortillas. Isa added ingredients to  a huge pot on the stove to make  a sort of pudding with an iron and vitamin fortified mix for the afternoon snack.  I was thrilled when they agreed to teach me how to make tortillas, and must confess that mine were not pretty.  Isa has three children in this program and was so grateful to be a part of it all.   In the program, children are fed breakfast, lunch and a snack to take home every day.

We also brought some brand new medical equipment for the clinic and Dave from Welch Allyn took a few minutes to teach the clinic nurse how to use the Macroview Otoscope, and the PanOptic Ophthalmoscope.  She learned very quickly and was surprised at how much more she could see with these new instruments.  She quietly replied, “Muchas gracias, we do not have technology like this in Guatemala. This will help us very much.”   Her sincerity was touching.
I concur. ¡Muchas Gracias Welch Allyn!  Thank you also to Camino Seguro for all that you do transform lives for these families, and all that you have done to transform us through such meaningful service.  Heart to Heart International is excited about the possibilities of working together in the future.

We next travel to a small village to join a medical team of US medical students and physicians.  They already have a Heart to Heart Ready Relief Box™! We’ll deliver more equipment, conduct some instrument training to the students and assist with the medical clinic.

–Ginny