When Hurricane Tomas struck St. Lucia in November 2010, International Medical Corps deployed Dr. Robert Fuller, Clinical Director of the Emergency Department at the University of Connecticut, to assess the damage and deliver services. Dr. Fuller had already volunteered at St. Jude hospital in St. Lucia for seven summers, and helped International Medical Corps rehabilitate the hospital after a fire.
Based on his findings and recommendations, International Medical Corps, in partnership with Hess Corporation and the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO), was able to deliver a swift and effective medical response for St. Jude Hospital, as well as Soufriere and Dennery Hospitals in the aftermath of the hurricane.
Excerpt from Dr. Fuller’s assessment log:
“I have arrived in St. Lucia. I was able to catch up on the (St. Jude) hospital and see Vieux Forte. The town looks remarkably good with small areas of structural damage. Lots of trees down. Evidence of how high the water is can be seen everywhere – like baggage cars from the airport 1 mile from the baggage claim area, and some light structures/shacks out in fields.
The stadium structure (which houses the interim facility of St. Jude hospital) sustained minor damage in the roof over the stands and there was flooding in every ward. The hospital itself is nearly dysfunctional with no running water and just enough bottled water for drinking and cooking. There is too little water for surgery, washing, toilets, laundry etc. The two small, minor-care hospitals nearby in Soufriere and Dennery are likely in similar or worse state of function. Neither of these hospitals had surgical care or care for more ill patients as a capacity before. I expect they will be likely sending patients to St. Jude – at least until the roads improve.
Electricity from the grid is back up and running in its usual on/off fashion. Communications are getting back on line. The lack of running water is likely to continue for some time. It seems that the usual source higher up in the hills has significant damage and is not easily accessed due to road damage.
Tomorrow I plan to spend the AM at the hospital. I want to go thru the place in detail to get a sense of what losses they have, what capacity they have and what their gaps are. If there are many patients, I will care for them with the ED team. I plan to rent a 4×4 so that I can travel to Soufriere and Dennery. I will try to connect with the community health centers there and visit their hospitals. I hope to get an idea of what decrease in capacity they are suffering and what their short-term needs are. Perhaps I will be able to return on Saturday with some stop gap supplies for them.
Thanks to you all,
Based on Dr. Fuller’s feedback and overall assessments, International Medical Corps quickly made arrangements to deliver drinking water and supplies by boat to St. Jude Hospital. In addition, we organized a donation drive at St. Jude so that critical items could be loaned to Soufriere Hospital.
In alliance with NEMO and the Ministry of Health, International Medical Corps designed a program to assist in ongoing relief efforts post-hurricane. With a generous donation from Hess, we plan to revitalize existing health education programs in Saint Lucia as well as furnish numerous clinics and hospitals island-wide with essential medical supplies. International Medical Corps will also install Rainwater Harvesting Apparatuses at numerous clinics island-wide which will complement the donation of water tanks to various clinics by NEMO. Additionally, International Medical Corps will deliver $800,000 in gift-in-kind medical supplies. We will also assist with Emergency Response and Disaster Risk Reduction as well as work to prepare local hospitals and medical personnel for accreditation.