From our Haiyan Response Team: Putting Health First in a Time of Disaster

Photo by Matthew McDermott
The AmeriCares Emergency Response Team, along with NYCMedics, were transported to the island of Homonhon to treat the small village of Habag in the storm ravaged Philippines.
Photo by Matthew McDermott

Our Typhoon Haiyan response team is working nonstop with partners to meet the immediate health needs of survivors in the hardest-hit areas.

"There is so much need," said Kate Dischino, emergency response manager. "We are in a strong position to move the right things to the right place at the right time, and that's exactly what people in the Philippines need right now.  Under these extreme logistical challenges, we have been moving shipments and staff by air, sea and truck, so we've been able to get equipment and supplies into some of the most hard to reach, devastated areas.”

The latest update from the team:

Samar  

AmeriCares Relief Worker Kate surveys medical needs in Samar
AmeriCares Relief Worker Kate surveys medical needs in Samar

Kate traveled with our partner, the Order of Malta to hard-hit villages in Samar including San Antonio, where roughly 90 percent of the community was destroyed.

“Families have started pulling their lives together by salvaging whatever materials they can find to create shelter,” explained Kate. “The local health center was severely damaged and there is no form of basic medicines. Not having a simple bandage is pretty common in these most devastated areas, and medical facilities that are still operational are too far away.”

We’ve provided funding for a distribution of food and relief items in Samar, and supplied NYC Medics with medical aid to deliver emergency medical care to survivors in the devastated San Antonio community.

Leyte

Kate also traveled to Tacloban, assessing needs in evacuation centers and at Divine Word Hospital -- one of few facilities still operating in the shattered city.

“The hospital is an organized chaos of brave health care professionals serving survivors in urgent need of care,” said Kate. “People were seeking consultation for wound care, respiratory infections, fever, and headaches.”

The hospital received pre-positioned medical aid sent by our partner to the hospital which includes antibiotics and chronic care medications to help restock its dwindling supplies. Our team has also provided medicines and supplies to the Tacloban Department of Health.

Cebu  

AmeriCares Relief Worker Karl, in Cebu
AmeriCares Relief Worker Karl, in Cebu

Karl Erdman, our team lead in Cebu, is working with response partners to restock hospitals and clinics, coordinate aid deliveries to communities where access to health care has been severely hampered, and supply medical professionals working in disaster zones with crucial aid.  A supply of medicines was procured and donated to Brig. General Benito Ebuen Air Base Hospital, and we are supporting a distribution of relief supplies to families in evacuation centers by our partner Hope Worldwide.

Eastern Samar  

In hard hit Guiuan, Eastern Samar, our team provided a truckload of medicines and supplies to support a health camp run by NYC Medics, who treated 150-200 patients each day.

“One 6-year-old boy had asthma complicated by pneumonia. He got his asthma meds refilled, and antibiotics for his pneumonia,” said Alex Ostaciewicz, a member of our team who was stationed with NYC Medics.

The medics also traveled by helicopter to the remote rural island of Homonhon, providing health access in places that were inaccessible. “We were the first people to come to the community since the typhoon struck,” Alex explained.  “The team treated more than 100 patients, including a diabetic woman who was on the verge of losing her foot from a cut she got during the storm.”  See the video.

Brian Hoyer assesses needs with our response partners.
Brian Hoyer assesses needs with our response partners.

Panay

Brian Hoyer conducted a joint needs assessment in Roxas, Capiz province on Panay Island with long-time partner International Organization for Migration (IOM) providing relief items to survivors and medical aid to clinics, including Pontevedra rural health clinic, where a woman named Estelita received the antibiotics she needed to recover from a severe infection.  Read her story.