The cliff-side road to Nuwakot, Nepal was long, winding and lined with rubble. Town after town, house after house, people picked through the devastation and attempted to pick up their lives.
The ReliefWorks medical team, in coordination with partner organization IsraAID, arrived in the remote village northwest of Kathmandu early Monday afternoon and immediately set up in a nearby school.
The team treated approximately 200 patients with ailments ranging from earthquake-related injuries to respiratory issues over three days of comprehensive clinics. For many people, lingering problems stemming from the earthquake had begun to fester, and without immediate aid, could become life-threatening.
With limited to no resources, they are essentially trapped.
“This is a really hard-hit area,” said ReliefWorks Team Leader and Pure Works Vice President Brandon Lindauer. “A lot of homes are just completely crumbled. The area we are in is so remote and there is such poor access to healthcare up here. That access is completely gone right now because of all the infrastructure problems resulting from the earthquake.”
On the team’s second day in Nuwakot, an elderly woman was carried in on a stretcher made of tarps and bamboo poles. During the first earthquake, her home collapsed and broke her femur. Two of her sons were killed, leaving just her and a daughter-in-law to fend for themselves.
She needed surgery in Kathmandu but had no means of getting to the hospital.
ReliefWorks and IsraAID coordinated desperately needed surgery for her and another 83-year-old woman with a broken hip. Both women were transported to Patan Hospital outside Kathmandu and underwent immediate surgery paid for by the Nepali government.
Between ReliefWorks and IsraAID, the team consists of two doctors, two paramedics, an EMT, a nurse midwife, and a former Army Special Forces medic. Additional medical professionals from both organizations arrive later this week. Three local nurses have also assisted with treatment and translation, as has Adventure Thirdpole Treks.
“[The Nepali] seem very interested and curious about our presence,” said ReliefWorks Medical Director Leah Fletchall. “Everyone is very kind and seems very gracious that we are here and helping them.”
Patients ranged from a three-day-old newborn to elderly men and women seeking emergency care and general treatment. Elizabeth Keit, a nurse midwife (OB-GYN) from California, noted the number of women coming in for regular check-ups.
“It has been a long time since they had any normal primary care, and for women, a lot of that focuses around their reproductive lives,” Keit said. “Having a woman to talk those things over with seems helpful. Even if they are going through normal life-stage changes, they like to have the reassurance of knowing if what they have going on is normal.”
Other conditions included gastrointestinal issues, scabies, open wounds, infections, aches and pains, psycho-social issues, and fungal infections.
“It is a privilege to travel half way around the world after such a horrendous disaster to compassionately provide medical care for those who so desperately need it,” said Pure Works Vice President Jonathan Graves.
On Wednesday, May 20, ReliefWorks returned to Kathmandu to restock and repack medical supplies before heading out on its next deployment.