From the Eye of the Storm: a Northwestern Physician in the Typhoon-Ravaged Philippines

Northwestern Medicine
News December 02, 2013
Rahul Khare, MD visiting a Philippines clinicWe were working directly with the Department of Health. The goal is simple: To do what they want us to do, and do it well. 

We were tasked to help run a clinic within the city of Ormoc. When we got there, there was a line of around 30 people waiting to be seen. We saw around 140 patients on our first day. 
We saw a lot of abscesses. We arrived around day #10 after the typhoon, the perfect amount of time for the body to form the pus-filled abscesses that needed drainage. And that’s what I did, from babies to adults. I drained them. The patients we saw were very grateful. The diseases included significant wound infections, pneumonia, puncture wounds needing tetanus vaccine, diarrhea from contaminated water, and then some of your normal coughs and colds. 

The best part of the clinic was that there were Filipino nurses, pharmacists and dietitians who were all willing to help and translate and give their services. Each one of them was appreciative of the volunteers. 

Unlike some of my other disaster experiences, I felt extremely optimistic about this country. The Filipinos are extremely hard working, very passionate about their country, and very thankful for their international response they received. Although, all of them said they struggled, especially the first 5 to 6 days after the typhoon landed, they feel they are getting enough food and water. 

Their medical needs are not their biggest concerns currently. Their biggest concern is that many of them have no roofs, or very damaged roofs. Things such as tarps are the things they desire the most. I also feel they will get electricity back in one month. This will be very helpful to them. 

Overall, I have a new respect for the Philippines, the people, and the government. I am grateful for my family, community, department of emergency medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and the generous donations I have received. I thank you all! 

Northwestern Memorial Foundation is collecting donations to help those in the Philippines. To make a donation, visit the website.

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