Sumatra quake: Beyond the call of duty

Scenes of the makeshift hospital attached to the Yos Sudarso Catholic Hospital which is running beyond full capicity following last weeks devostasting earthquake

Scenes of the makeshift hospital attached to the Yos Sudarso Catholic Hospital which is running beyond full capacity following last weeks devastating earthquake. Photo by James Alcock/Caritas

By Tim O’Connor, Caritas Australia

Helen is a nurse at the Yos Sudarso Catholic Hospital. While taking a short break from her grueling workload, she stopped to talk to the Caritas communications team.

She said, “It is mainly earthquake victims we are treating here. A lot of people have been badly injured, the majority thankfully are fairly minor and they are treated at our polyclinic which we have established at the front of the property.

“We are seeing lots of cuts, abrasions and fractures which we can treat fairly quickly. Although the hospital is badly damaged, we were fortunate in that the x-ray and operating rooms are still able to function as normal.”

A woman just behind us is hooked up to a breathing apparatus. Helen said, “There has also been a dramatic increase in respiratory illnesses. The dust from the collapsed buildings is everywhere and is having a serious effect.”

There are 12 patients in each of the three tents that operate as the temporary clinic, most of them have serious injuries to their heads or bodies sustained from falling debris. Read the remarkable story of one of the patients Ramlan here.

“Anyone is welcome to come to the clinic” said Helen, “Medical services are free to anyone who was affected by the earthquake or by its aftermath”.

Evidently the demand is enormous with many people outside the hospital. I ask Helen how many hours she has worked in the time since the earthquake. “I have stopped counting,” she said, “I have been starting early in the morning around 6 am and we have worked until midnight most days. The need is so great how can we not.”

Caritas through its links with the Catholic Church is delivering vital medical assistance in Padang which is saving lives and preparing people to retake control of their lives after the devastation of the recent earthquake.

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Filed under Asia, Conflicts and Disasters, Emergencies, Indonesia

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