Scripps Medical Response team arrives in Nepal: 5 things to know

On May 1, San Diego-based Scripps Health deployed its Medical Response Team to Kathmandu, Nepal, the epicenter of the April 25 7.9-magnitude earthquake.

Chris Van Gorder, president and CEO of Scripps, has been in constant communication with the team regarding its activities in Nepal. Here are five updates on the Scripps Medical Response Team's mission in Nepal so far.

1. The five team members of the Medical Response Team, led by Tim Collins, corporate vice president of operations, include Patty Scripps Medical Response TeamSkoglund, RN, disaster preparedness coordinator; Steve Miller, senior director of clinical services at Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas; Deb McQuillen, RN, director of cardiac care and critical services at Scripps Mercy Hospital and Jan Zachery, RN, CNO of Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas. The team departed Friday from San Francisco and stopped in Frankfurt, Germany, and Istanbul, Turkey, before landing in Nepal.

2. Upon arriving in Kathmandu, the Scripps team met with representatives of the International Medical Corps for a security briefing. They were united with four physicians from Harvard. An additional four physicians and one nurse from Harvard are expected to join the team there in coming days. The unified team of Scripps and Harvard medical and support personnel was reassigned to deliver care in the outlying rural areas, as Kathmandu was determined over-resourced by the IMC.

Nepalese Children3. Team 1A, which is based in Gorkha, includes Mr. Collins, Ms. McQuillen and Ms. Zachery. The team is transported daily via car or helicopter and, in some instances, on foot, to each region where they plan to deliver medical care. Team 1B, which includes Ms. Skoglund and Mr. Miller, is based in Dahding. They are using a local hotel as a base and are transported by car each morning to remote villages to conduct need assessments and provide medical care. In addition to the core team, they are joined by four local university students. Both teams return to the basecamp in the evenings for resupply.

4. On Sunday, Team 1A was flown into another village in two helicopters. According to Mr. Van Gorder, Mr. Collins said the Nepalese government has determined that, as expected, most of the damage from the earthquake occurred along the fault line. The team was flown into a rural village near the fault line about 20 minutes from Gorkha. A medical response team from Malaysia was also there when the Scripps team landed. As a result, villagers from surrounding regions had gathered to await medical care since they knew it was going to be available. The team saw roughly 60 patients who mostly presented primary care issues and upper respiratory infections.

5. Mr. Collins told Mr. Van Gorder on the phone that his team had been informed of a man who had a stroke and was trapped in a collapsed Destruction in Nepalhut in a mountainside village about 20 minutes away. The man's hut was 3,000 feet down the mountain below the village. Mr. Collins and a physician descended the mountain which sloped at a steep 45-degree angle. It took the two about 50 minutes to arrive at the man's hut. It turned out that he actually had spinal cord injury and had been trapped for about six or eight hours. Mr. Collins and the physician were able to remove him from the hut with help of some farmers from the area. They carried him up the mountain — about 1,500 to 1,800 feet — to a very small landing zone where the helicopter picked the patient up and transported him to the hospital in Gorkha.

Team 1B traveled in a four-by-four to a rural village where team members treated about five patients. According to Ms. Skoglund, the group had the opportunity to celebrate Buddha's birthday with the Nepalese in a temple, which she said was a remarkable experience.

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