USA: MSF filling gaps in medical aid for people affected by Hurricane Sandy
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams, working alongside local community groups, are providing medical and mental health care to Hurricane Sandy-affected communities in the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island, as well as Hoboken, New Jersey. The vast majority of the patients treated by MSF in the shelters and underserved communities have been elderly, homeless, or physically or mentally impaired.
A team of two doctors, nurse-practitioner, mental health specialist, nurse, and logistical-support staff have established a temporary clinic in a community room in a housing complex in the Arverne neighbourhood of Rockaway,
The team has also been going door-to-door in high-rise apartments, alongside volunteers from various community groups, to conduct medical consultations with residents who have been without electricity since 29 October, and who have had limited access to heat and water. The community groups, through volunteers, are carrying water and other supplies to residents of the buildings, including a 22-story apartment building.
Many of the residents visited are suffering some form of paraplegia, obesity or dementia, and have not been able to seek outside assistance since the hurricane hit. Several elderly patients have also received care by home visits.
At the evacuation centre located at
Since assessing the evacuation centre at
At the shelter, MSF has provided a prescribing physician and organised a medicines procurement system with a local pharmacy that has been donating medical material and prescription medicines for evacuees. As a result, approximately a dozen individuals who have lost access to their prescription medicines for hypertension and other chronic conditions have received medication. MSF has also donated blood-sugar rapid diagnostic testing kits for diabetic patients and nebulizers and medications for patients suffering from chronic respiratory conditions.
A two-person mental health team has provided therapy to several people exhibiting signs of mental trauma in the shelter. The team has also set up a recovery room for first-responders suffering from exhaustion after working multiple shifts without relief. The team has also conducted a training session for social workers and psychologists from
Hoboken, New Jersey
On Saturday, 3 November, MSF dispatched a doctor, nurse, and mental health specialist to
The majority of the patients, as in other locations where MSF is working, are suffering from chronic medical conditions such as hypertension and diabetes. Most of the patients are elderly and many are suffering from pre-existing mental illnesses that have only been exacerbated by the trauma associated with the hurricane.