Red Cross field hospital treats first patient while still under construction

Published: 21 November 2013 16:43 CET

By Gwen Eamer, Canadian Red Cross in Ormoc, Philippines

For Rogelio Arges, the Red Cross field hospital in Ormoc could not have arrived at a better time. While medical, administration and other disaster response experts were working around the clock to set up the tented hospital, Mr. Arges was clearing rubble and debris with the Philippines' Department of Public Works. While working to clear roads through central Ormoc, on hard-hit Leyte Island, he stumbled and broke his arm.

Ormoc's public hospital, which people would normally rely on for emergencies like this, was seriously damaged by Typhoon Haiyan. More than a week after the disaster, the hospital is operating at less than 20 per cent of its normal capacity. Patients on stretchers fill the lobby and hallways, and sunlight streams into the patient wards and operating rooms, where the strong winds tore off the roof.

Mr. Rogelio walked into a crowd of volunteers and medical personnel building the field hospital, and quickly found the help he needed. A Red Cross doctor set and plastered his broken arm, and sent him home to recover.

Mr. Rogelio's home was also damaged by Typhoon Haiyan, and his broken arm days later made him worry about how his family would survive the unexpected costs. "The Red Cross helping the Ormoc district hospital meant I could get the service I needed at the public hospital," he said. "Without this help, I don't know where we would be."

The Red Cross field hospital is a joint deployment of the Canadian, Norwegian and Hong Kong Red Cross Societies. Its operating theatre, maternity wards and inpatient services will begin operating on Thursday, two days after arriving in Ormoc.

Today the field hospital had its first birth.