Reaching survivors in their homes on the Oshika Peninsula
AAR has been making regular visits to provide medical treatment to earthquake survivors on the Oshika Peninsula, an isolated region of Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture.
The Oshika Peninsula suffered tremendous damage in the earthquake. Medical teams from Tokai University and the Japanese Red Cross Society are taking care of patients in the northern part of the peninsula, while a Self-Defense Force medical team is working in the south. However, at present their support focuses only on people at evacuation centers, and does not reach survivors who have chosen to remain in their homes.
Some residents cannot travel to receive health care at evacuation centers due to old age or problems with their legs, while others have not been able to obtain information on where to go. Health workers from all over the country have been assigned to visit homes in different areas of Ishinomaki City, performing check-ups and inspecting damage, but the system has not yet been able to reach the Oshika Peninsula.
To meet this need, AAR JAPAN formed a medical team led by Dr. Toshiaki YASUDA, a long-time medical practitioner in the area. Dr. YASUDA is supported by two nurses, Moeko NAGAI and Mika SEKII, with Eijiro MURAKOSHI serving as administrative staff. The team began making regular visits to provide medical treatment in homes and evacuation centers on April 9th.
Many survivors remain in their homes on the peninsula, where our team is working with about 640 people in the Makino-hama, Takeno-hama, Kitsunezaki-hama, Sudachi, Fukiura, Kozumi-hama and Kobuchi-hama areas. In coordination with the Red Cross Society and governmental agencies supervising medical support in Ishinomaki City, Dr. YASUDA has been making regular medical visits on weekends, while providing services such as care for chronic illness, prevention against infectious diseases, and mental support on weekdays.
Providing detailed care to each person
When visiting homes and evacuation centers, our team first coordinates with the regional Emergency Headquarters, or visit homes that have been introduced by other survivors in the area.
On April 16th, our team visited an elderly couple sheltered in their home in the Makino-hama area of the Higashihama ward. Though both were in good health, the wife was worried about her blood pressure, and they were both relieved when no problem was found.
In addition to performing check-ups, we listen to survivors’ concerns, ask about difficulties they are having, and inquire about any supplies they may need. In one house the toilet was connected to a septic tank, and the pump truck had not come since the earthquake. When a truck came to the evacuation center nearby, the homeowners were told that the truck could not come to individual houses. While the tank did not pose a threat to hygiene when we visited, we informed the staff in charge of the evacuation center of the situation, and asked for appropriate measures to be taken before the problem worsened.
We informed survivors that we would visit regularly to provide check-ups and ask about any difficulties they were having. When one survivor replied with watery eyes, “That will be really helpful. Thank you,” I realized just what kind of terrible anxiety these people are living with every day.
Despite of the enormous difficulties they are facing, the residents of the Oshika Peninsula have been cheerful and warm-hearted, supporting one another in their daily lives. When we visit, they prepare tea and express their thanks, and we find ourselves as much cheered by them as they are by us. We will continue to listen to their appeals, and will endeavor to understand their feelings as we work to maintain their health.
Ms. Moeko NAGAI: Emergency Relief Team (nurse and medical officer) Worked in hospital for three years after graduation from university After studying in the United States for one year, she worked as a nurse at kindergarten in Japan for two years