FEATURED STORY

Saving Lives and Limbs

International Medical Corps surgeons treat earthquake survivors at Patan Hospital in Kathmandu

“International Medical Corps can dramatically change the way [Patan Hospital’s staff] treat earthquake victims.” – Dr. Charles Blitzer

Katmandu’s Patan Hospital is one of Nepal’s biggest and busiest health facilities, treating over 300,000 patients and conducting more than 10,000 operations a year. Following the devastating earthquake on April 25, 2015, Patan’s caseload jumped still further. In the days since tragedy struck, it has treated more than 1,000 trauma cases, including 180 patients who required emergency surgery. The buildings that comprise the hospital are damaged and yet it continues to receive more patients from rural areas. Most have severe crush injuries and are suffering from further complications as the result of not having access to previous care.

International Medical Corps’ surgical staff is providing expertise at the hospital in orthopedic surgery, reconstructive and plastic surgery, and spinal surgery. On May 11, Emergency Response Team surgeons Dr. Santosh Kumar and Dr. Charles Blitzer treated six patients with severe fractures, infections and tissue loss using a specialized technique to repair the patients’ skin. The hospital was not stocked with the appropriate technology and our doctors were forced to improvise with donated materials. Our physicians reported that without medical care, these six patients would have required amputations or would have died from infection. These surgeries saved their lives and their limbs.

Dr. Blitzer views an x-ray of an extreme fracture - which our team repaired

“The acute injuries right after the earthquake is one thing but people with complex wound problems will need care and rehabilitation for months,” said Dr. Blitzer. His comment underscored the need to build up the hospital’s capacity to treat earthquake survivors’ long after their immediate needs are met, “International Medical Corps is really going to affect this hospital’s ability to deal with the long-term care of these patients.”

While responding to emergency conditions in Nepal, International Medical Corps is simultaneously rebuilding this crisis-rich area to prepare to withstand disaster should it come. Dr. Blitzer said he believed that International Medical Corps will leave behind a hospital with a far greater capacity to deal with routine trauma burden. In the developing world, road traffic injuries alone are significant cause of trauma injuries. “International Medical Corps will upgrade this hospital’s capacity,” Dr. Blitzer said.

Dr. Santosh and team perform a complicated surgery in Patan Hospital

Following the second major earthquake to hit Nepal in less than three weeks on May 12, International Medical Corps immediately dispatched doctors to Patan Hospital to help assist with patient care. Because of the second quake, many patients there are frightened and are now sleeping outside. Our teams are rapidly distributing tarps to help provide temporary shelters.

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