A medical team from St. Luke’s Medical Center travelled to Ormoc City, Leyte last November 22-24, 2013 to bring much needed medical aid to the survivors of the devastation caused by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).Although spared from the deadly storm surges experienced in Tacloban, Ormoc was nevertheless caught in the eye of the storm as strong winds blew off rooftops of most houses and buildings. Electricity and water supplies were also cut off in its aftermath, with about 32 dead among its casualties.
“Relief came late, about one week later. Depression was also building among the people because they had no shelter. Even the evacuation center had no roof, “recounts medical team leader and St. Luke’s surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Domino, himself a native of Ormoc. “They were always wet. It took some time before construction supplies became available to give them some sort of shelter,“he added.
Through the donations of and coordination with St. Luke’s Medical Center Foundation, Inc. (SLMCFI), Dr. Domino was able to pull together a team of doctors and a good amount of medical supplies to conduct amedical mission in his hometown. Joining him were St. Luke’sdoctors Bernie Singson, Sylvia Bernardino, Kaye Panganiban, Ruari Lee, Bea Ang, Edna Llido, Raymond Belmonte, Lavinia Espiritu and Lester Mike Chua. With the assistance on the ground from Energy Development Corporation (EDC) and the Ormoc City Health Office, the team was able to set up base and move from one barangay to the other to reach as many residents as they can.Dr. Domino relates, “One of the barangay captains during the mission mentioned to us how grateful he was to have us come to their barangay. We were the first group of doctors to have conducted a medical mission at their place since the typhoon struck. And it was already two weeks since Yolanda hit Ormoc.”
Out of five hospitals in the area, the team learned that only two were operational a few days after the storm, limitingthe number of residents who could access medical care. “Respiratory illnesses were common. They had colds, cough and fever. Many were wounded but fortunately, they were given anti-tetanus drugs during the early stages of relief operations,” Dr. Domino observed. So manyof the sick and weak turned up at their tents that the team even worked with flashlights in the dark of night just to be able to attend to all of them.
By the end of the mission, the St. Luke’s medical team had visited 4 barangays (Alta Vista, Mabini, Malbasag and San Isidro) and served approximately 800 people. The help does not end there as St. Luke’s, through SLMCFI, plans to give long-term aid to target communities in the Visayas. According to government estimates, rehabilitation may take several years. Among St. Luke’s planned activities include continuous medical missions with doctors alternating schedules, assistance in hospital rehabilitation and the construction of houses through GawadKalinga. Fundraising projects will also continue till the following year to ensure that affected areas will consistently receive aid.