Scripps Medical Response team prepares for return from Nepal: 7 updates

Following the devastating earthquake and aftershocks in Nepal in late April, San Diego-based Scripps Health deployed its medical response team May 1 to the country to help provide much needed medical care to Nepalese survivors. After nearly three weeks operating out of medical tents, the Scripps team is preparing for its return to the U.S.

Chris Van Gorder, president and CEO of Scripps Health, has been in constant communication with the medical response team and sends Scripps employees daily emails on the team's happenings in Nepal. Here are seven updates from the medical response team.Scripps Medical Response Team

1. The Scripps Medical Response team is led by Tim Collins, corporate vice president of operations, and includes Patty Skoglund, RN, disaster preparedness coordinator; Steve Miller, senior director of clinical services at Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas (Calif.); Deb McQuillen, RN, director of cardiac care and critical services at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego and Jan Zachery, RN, CNO of Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas. These five were split into two teams with added support personnel to deliver care in rural regions outside of Kathmandu, Nepal, the epicenter of the 1.9-magnitude quake. Team 1A, which is based in Gorkha, includes Mr. Collins, Ms. McQuillen and Ms. Zachery. Team 1B, which includes Ms. Skoglund and Mr. Miller, is based in Dahding, Nepal.

2. Together, the Scripps teams treated a total of 2,229 patients during their mission in Nepal, with Team 1A seeing 1,143 patients and Team 1B seeing 1,086 patients over the last three weeks. The team members describe their mission as a bonding, fulfilling and rewarding experience.

Line of patients"We have become a close family over the three weeks," Ms. Skoglund wrote in an email to Mr. Van Gorder. "The local volunteers are having a difficult time with our departure as they see us as friends and in some cases parent figures. I believe we have given them hope and strength to become leaders in their own right and begin to rebuild their lives. They are afraid if we leave them they will fail but we have faith they will succeed.  They are all so smart and they are survivors — they are bound to move forward. This is our greatest success here — leaving this young generation with hope and confidence to begin again."

3. A second major earthquake registering at a 7.8 magnitude occurred May 12 in an area close to Mount Everest, resulting in many new deaths and injuries. Ms. Skoglund, who was in Dhading at the time, told Mr. Van Gorder, "I did not go out today. I felt it to unsafe to walk the streets with potential aftershocks and so many multi-story unstable buildings around. There were also power lines hanging everywhere and [I] felt very uncomfortable being out and about. The streets were empty for the same reason."

Aftershocks continue in Nepal. According to Mr. Collins, many Nepalese have serious concerns regarding the durability of the buildings, so many walk into fields and sleep under the stars at night, as they are afraid of another earthquake.

4. Many of the patients the teams treated suffered from respiratory illnesses, bodily trauma, diarrhea, Nepalese toddlerscabies boils and gastritis. According to Mr. Van Gorder, many of the upper respiratory infections are being caused from exposure to long-term contact with smoke from burning fires in kitchens from living in tents.

5. The Nepalese people have been very welcoming and gracious to the Scripps team, according to Mr. Collins and Ms. Skoglund. Upon arriving in the villages, residents often greet the team, offer to carry their bags and give them food, despite their limited resources.

Sandwich6. According to Ms. Skoglund, most dogs in Nepal are working dogs, not pets. While the team had decided early on not to befriend or feed any dogs, after arriving in one village they discovered that the health director of a clinic had been killed in the first earthquake and his pet dog was left in the facility. The team decided to adopt the dog, who they named Sandwich, and take care of him during their stay. "There are many kinds of victims," Ms. Skoglund said.

7. The Scripps Medical Response Team will be replaced by a team from Stanford, which will include two physicians and three nurses. The Stanford team will continue providing medical care to Nepalese survivors for a three-week period. Scripps does not have plans to send another medical response team to Nepal at this time.

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