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NCS Currents June 2016

NCS Mobilizes to Help Support Disaster Relief Operation for Ecuador By Jose Suarez, MD, FNCS A devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the Western part of Ecuador on Saturday April 16, 2016. It has been Ecuador’s worst natural disaster in more than 70 years. That earthquake killed more than 600 people, and injured around 16,600 others. Further tremors were expected for several weeks after that quake, which destroyed approximately 7,000 buildings and left more than 25,000 people living in shelters. In fact, two other earthquakes with a preliminary magnitude of 6.5 and 6.8 were felt on Wednesday May 15, rattling an area still recovering from April’s disastrous quake but fortunately causing only limited damage. One of the sectors that was heavily compromised by the shallow thrust faulting near the boundary of the Nazca and the South American plates was healthcare. Most hospitals were left inoperable if not completely destroyed even several miles off the epicenter. Once the recovery operations were complete, it became obvious that the affected population was left vulnerable to tropical diseases and with very little access to proper treatment facilities and medical supplies for their chronic and acute health needs. With so many people injured and health facilities damaged, there is an urgent need for medications, bandages, antibiotics, and other critical supplies. Nelson Maldonado, MD and I have a deep connection with Ecuador and have partnered with the St Luke’s Foundation-CHI St Luke’s Health in Houston, TX and the NCS to set up a relief operation to benefit those affected by the telluric movements. Nelson became Ecuador’s first trained neurointensivist in 2015 after his fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine where he worked under my mentorship. He returned to Quito in September 2015 and works as a neurointensivist at Hospital Eugenio Espejo and a faculty member at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito School of Medicine. Recently, the Ecuadorian government approved a grant (PI: Jose Suarez) to set up a high altitude research center and a neurocritical care education project — both being the first of their kind in the country. We reached out to many friends and colleagues and their partner institutions for help and the response has been overwhelming. We have received donations from the following organizations: Cleveland Clinic Foundation (contact: Daniel Ontaneda), Duke University (contact Alfredo Guerron), Henry Ford Hospital (contact PanosVarelas), Diabetes Action Research and Education Foundation (contact Pat Devoe), Texas Children’s Hospital (contact James Thomas), the CHI St. Luke’s Health‒Baylor St Luke’s Medical Center (contact Elizabeth Delledera), and the NCS and its members. I am coordinating a united medical relief operation in the U.S. for the Ecuador earthquake victims. Nelson is coordinating the ground efforts with YACHAY EP, Ecuadorean governmental research institution to facilitate customs clearance for needed medical supply shipments. We have learned the intricacies of international disaster relief efforts and have become certified “logisticians.” We have gathered and stored more than 50,000 pounds of supplies and medications that are currently ready for air transportation via the generosity of United Airlines and their affiliate Airlink. In addition, many private citizens and members of the NCS have donated funds (more than $10,000) and other supplies. Nelson and I will oversee delivery of the supplies to Ecuador and their distribution from the Universidad San Francisco de Quito to portable hospitals that are being organized by governmental and non-governmental organizations and to the main pediatric and adult public hospitals in Quito and Guayaquil currently receiving and treating the most critically ill patients from the disaster zone. Eusebia Calvillo, Nelson Maldonado, and Jose Suarez at the storage area at the CHI Baylor St Luke’s Medical Center in Houston, TX 8


NCS Currents June 2016
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