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AmeriCares Field Hospitals Making a Difference in China

  • July 14, 2008

Two months after China’s devastating 7.9-magnitude earthquake, residents of Sichuan Province are doing their best to recover in the face of challenging obstacles.  The need for health care services is particularly critical at this time, and AmeriCares continues to provide assistance to meet the survivors’ medical needs through its two field hospitals — the first in Qingchuan and the second due to open in Wenchuan later this week.

In Qingchuan, located in the northernmost region of Sichuan Province at the northern tip of the quake’s fault line, the first of two AmeriCares field hospitals is treating between 150-160 people a day on an outpatient basis.  Many of them have suffered trauma injuries resulting from the reconstruction work in the area.  The clinic is staffed with local physicians and medical personnel, and has surgical and diagnostic capabilities for patients with more serious medical conditions. 

“Since the field hospital opened a few weeks ago, an increasing number of people are coming to the clinic every day as the news spreads,” said Brian Hoyer, an AmeriCares response team member working in China.  “One of the most common reasons people in Qingchuan are coming to the hospital is because of construction-related injuries during the rebuilding process.  In addition, there are women seeking maternal health care and many elderly people with heat-related illnesses during this hot, humid summer.”

Hoyer notes that physicians also performed five surgical procedures and delivered two infants, one by Cesarean section, in the hospital’s first few weeks of operation.“The first surgical patient was a 67-year old woman who had a severe case of kidney stones.  Without the facility here, she would have had to travel more than three hours over the mountains to see a doctor at the nearest comprehensive hospital.  When she learned that doctors were performing surgeries here, she was spared the long journey.  She is now recovering nicely,” Hoyer said.

Construction is currently underway on the second AmeriCares field hospital in Wenchuan County, the epicenter of the May 12 quake, where approximately 35,000 people alone were injured.  Situated on the site of the devastated Xuankou Township Hospital, the new facility is expected to provide services for anywhere between 80 and 200 patients daily.  Like its counterpart in Qingchuan, this hospital will also feature operating and emergency rooms, a laboratory, maternity ward and at least two patient wards.

“The people in Wenchuan and Qingchuan are remarkably resilient, but the day-to-day living experience is still difficult here,” says Hoyer, who has been in China since May 17, five days after the earthquake.  “By helping to meet the health care needs of these two communities, AmeriCares is supporting thousands of people as they continue the recovery process.”

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