For readers of this blog, you know that I have been teaching critical care nursing in Nepal since 2011 and I have made eight trips here. I am here for the 2014-2015 academic year to continue this work for the past ten months.
I have heard from most, but not all, of my Kathmandu friends. Because I am a foreigner, many people from Kathmandu called me, to see that I was okay.
For the record, I was in Bhairawaha Nepal on the day of the quake. Several hundred miles away. In Bhairawaha, I noticed something odd at 11:56: the water in the glass on my desk was sloshing back and forth all by itself. I immediately got up, alerted the other people nearby that it was an earthquake, and we all left the building. The cacophony of nearby birds signaled that something unusual was happening.
Here, nothing was damaged. Not only that, but it was mild enough that things stayed on the shelves and tables. I spent much of the day (it was my day off) answering emails and messages to re-assure my friends that I was safe. I am fine. I am not personally inconvenienced in any way.
I am on my long-planned “Road Trip” – fifteen sessions of my course outside the Kathmandu Valley. Five have been completed and ten remain. I am teaching today.
I would point out that CCNEPal, my organization, has trained 1,775 nurses and docs in Life Support skills, and about 800 are in Kathmandu. For that reason, I suppose you could say that CCNEPal has “pre-positioned” for this event (though I would not wish this on anybody). to all my former students I say – “Go get ’em!”
Pictures I have seen on FaceBook indicate that at least several large hospitals are intact and open for business. Also there is ample capacity to shift medical personnel from other areas of the country that were unaffected, to Kathmandu itself. In the immediate period, this is probably the most effective thing. The problem is going to be getting the nurses and doctors to where they are needed, since the airport will be full and we don’t know the road status.
We know very little about the conditions in rural areas.
I am 100% certain that the Nepalese people will be helping each other, it is something I have always admired about this beautiful country. There is ample capacity to shift medical personnel from within the country, and I am sure that such a move will be easier than to bring in people from outside. For those who wish to help, I guess the first thing is – send money to aid organization of your choice. (not to me!)
In general, I think it’s too early for nurses and doctors to come here unless they speak fluent Nepali and already know about the hospital system (most hospitals are intact). There are many many Nepali nurses and doctors working abroad, they should be the very first ones to come back here, if anybody does. I do not think the needs will be quite the same as they were directly after Haiti, for example.
From reading about other disasters in other parts of the world, I think that the early period will focus on recovery of victims. The time when foreign nurses can help will be down the road, when disaster fatigue sets in, and also to “backfill” basic health services in unaffected areas where the Nepali nurses have and doctors have been shifted to Kathmandu.
We will all learn more as the full extent of damage is revealed in coming days.