Mass General's teams of emergency responders have returned home after bringing expert medical care to the victims of the devastating Nepal earthquakes.
A school destroyed by the Nepal earthquake in the village of Ghorka, where some Mass General responders have been providing care.
A school destroyed by the Nepal earthquake in the Ghorka District, where some Mass General responders have been providing care.

The Massachusetts General Hospital emergency responders who deployed to Nepal to provide medical care to the people affected by the destructive earthquakes there have returned home safely, reports the MGH Center for Global Health.

On April 25, 2015, a devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal – the country’s worst in more than 80 years. The death toll surpassed 8,000, more than 16,000 people were injured and thousands more were left without homes. Additional earthquakes and tremors caused even more destruction. The Nepal earthquakes have been a major catastrophe to the Nepalese people, as well as the country’s infrastructure as a whole.

Two MGH physicians, Renee Salas, MD, and Lara Phillips, MD, from the Department of Emergency Medicine’s Division of Wilderness Medicine were in Nepal when the earthquake hit and immediately began helping to care for the injured. The first disaster-response team organized by the MGH Center for Global Health, with seven members, joined the two doctors on May 3, 2015.

Providing Critical Emergency Care

The first team, with the International Medical Corps, was led by Miriam Aschkenasy, MD, deputy director, Global Disaster Response at the MGH Center for Global Health, and included Bijay Acharya, MD, Grace Deveney, RN, Annekathryn Goodman, MD, Kevin Murphy, RN, Jacquelyn Nally, RN, and Sheila Preece, NP. A second team, led by Paul Biddinger, MD, chief of Mass General’s Division of Emergency Preparedness, was dispatched to support Project HOPE, a humanitarian nonprofit with a long-standing partnership with Mass General. Other members of the second team included Hasmukh Patel, a lab technologist in the Clinical Pathology Lab; and four nurses: Russell Demailly, RN; Lindsey Martin, NP; Nicholas Merry, RN and Monica Staples, RN.

Villages Completely Destroyed

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The teams traveled by foot, jeep and helicopter in mobile medical units to the most severely affected districts of Dhading and Gorkha, to treat more than 2,000 patients for acute injuries and provide much-needed general primary care to extremely isolated communities.

“The villages were completely destroyed,” reported Dr. Acharya, who is from Nepal.

In Kathmandu, particularly after the second earthquake on May 12, their presence at two major teaching hospitals caring for an influx of new patients alongside their Nepali colleagues improved core clinical systems, like emergency medicine and operating room management.

In addition to providing direct care to those injured by the Nepal earthquake, the MGH responders helped to make up for interruptions in local medical care and deal with other seemingly small but critical public health issues. In Dahding, such efforts included helping to dig a latrine.

Supportive Donations Needed

Ongoing funding support is also crucial to the Center for Global Health’s commitment to mounting professional responses to such disasters. Nurses and doctors need equipment, medications, telecommunications and training to be ready to serve our global community at a moment’s notice. Philanthropy plays an important role in meeting that need. Donations can be made through the MGH Emergency Response Fund, managed by the MGH Development Office and can be made online with a credit card. Donations will support relief efforts in Nepal.

For more information please visit the Center for Global Health’s website.