Taking care of Ecuador’s elderly after earthquake

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Ecuadorian Red Cross assists the home for the elderly run by the Cottolengo Foundation in Manta, Ecuador after the April 16th earthquake. © IFRC

Taking care of Ecuador’s elderly after earthquakeAt the hospice care home for the elderly run by the Cottolengo Foundation in Manta, Ecuador, April 16th was a day like any other. The 65 seniors who reside there had taken an early dinner, as usual, so when 6:58pm came around and the earth began to shake under their feet, a calm silence fell over the home.

María del Carmen Cercenti, Executive Director for the home says “It was very frightening. Getting all the patients out was a complicated task, given that some of them are immobilized due to their health condition. They were very frightened, some of them couldn’t comprehend what was going on.”

This home for the elderly is a non-profit foundation run by Sister María of the Order of the Cottolengo Sisters. Fortunately, the earthquake did not greatly affect the home – “some vital sign monitors fell and broke, and of course those are expensive, but at the end of the day what matters is that no lives were lost,” says María del Carmen.

Since the earthquake, the home’s supply of safe water has been cut off, which has hindered the care provided for the elderly at the home. “Thankfully, the Manta branch of the Ecuadorian Red Cross hasn’t forgotten about us; they’ve brought us water, sheeting and blankets and we can at least give them water and safely prepare meals, as well as make sure their bedding remains hygienic,” adds María del Carmen.

Throughout the earthquake response operation, the Ecuadorian Red Cross, along with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and other National Societies, have distributed 41,467 bottles of water and in Pedernales alone have been treating 30,000 litres per day as part of the water and sanitation area of focus of the emergency appeal launched on April 22nd, 2016.