On May 12, 2008, a 7.9 magnitude earthquake brought devastation to Sichuan Province in Southwest China, killing tens of thousands, bringing countless buildings crashing down -- including many hospitals.
- AmeriCares immediately re-routed a relief expert headed for Myanmar to assess the situation on the ground in Sichuan.
The country’s worst disaster in 30 years affected the lives of millions, leaving many in the densely populated province homeless. The immense suffering was magnified by more than 4,000 aftershocks throughout the already devastated areas.
- Identifying access to health care as a critical need, we immediately set in motion the delivery, building and equipping of two state-of-the-art field hospitals.
By May 16, AmeriCares had a relief expert on the ground in Sichuan, assessing needs, initiating emergency shipments and organizing distribution.
- The first emergency shipment brought antibiotics, solutions, vitamins, blankets and other medical supplies necessary to treat the immediate needs of earthquake survivors.
- We then added shipments of other needed aid, including orthopedic supplies, such as wheelchairs and crutches.
Effective coordination with local partners and regional authorities helped the initial aid reach survivors quickly.
AmeriCares focused recovery efforts on quickly setting up two fully operational field hospitals.
- The first hospital in Qingchuan, opening in June 2008 and staffed by local medical professionals, served a community of over 250,000 and included inpatient, outpatient and emergency treatment, an operating room, laboratory services and a maternity ward. The hospital averaged between 180-200 patients daily; in the first 30 days alone, 30 babies were born and 50 surgeries completed.
- In July 2008, the second field hospital opened in Wenchuan County, the epicenter of the quake where about 35,000 people were injured. The facility provided outpatient services to the community of 20,000, serving between 40 – 50 patients each day. The medical staff treated a number of common illnesses including respiratory conditions, digestive disorders and high blood pressure.
- In addition to the two field hospitals, AmeriCares purchased ambulances for both hospitals.
The China field hospitals were modeled after a similar facility AmeriCares built and equipped in Pakistan after an earthquake in 2005 destroyed the only health clinic in the Allai Valley. That hospital continued to serve patients for several years after the quake.
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