Flashlights used by doctors while healing the sick
MANILA - One of the country’s premier hospitals, St. Luke’s Medical Center, sent a medical team to Ormoc City to assist Yolanda survivors.
Medical team leader and St. Luke’s surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Domino, himself a native of Ormoc, saw the devastation there. Although spared from the massive storm surge, strong winds blew off rooftops. Electricity and water supplies were also cut.
“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,” he said. “They were always wet. It took some time before construction supplies became available to give them some sort of shelter.”
Through donations and coordination with St. Luke’s Medical Center Foundation, Inc. (SLMCFI), Domino was able to pull together a team of doctors: 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.
“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,” he said.
In fact, only one of the five hospitals was then operating. “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,” he said.
He said they had to use flashlights while working in the dark.
St. Luke’s is planning 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 Gawad Kalinga.