Kootenay health care staff rallied to help save lives in Sri Lanka.
Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (KBRH) nephrologist Dr. Dharmapaul Raju and nurse Emily LaRochelle collected a load of life-saving equipment and assisted in an emergency transfer to Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Heavy October rains caused widespread landslides and flooding displacing about 6,000 people from their homes on the South Asia island country already hit hard by political, social, and economic crises.
Sri Lanka’s Department of Meteorology reported Warakapola in Kegalle District recorded 128 millimetres (mm) of rain in eight hours on Oct. 14. During the same period the Colombo district recorded 123 mm of rain and Gampha district 121 mm.
The recent flooding further complicated supply-chain shortages throughout the region, leaving hospitals without critical life-saving supplies.
Dr. Sharvan Nosib and Dr. Upul Madampage of Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon, who have connections in Sri Lanka, first put out the call for medical supplies, but generated little traction at hospitals in Saskatoon and Calgary.
They called upon KBRH nephrologist Dr. Raju, who grew up and trained in Saskatchewan. He then contacted local health-care providers asking if there were any outdated or gently used supplies that they could divert to Sri Lanka.
Dr. Raju was humbled by the immediate response.
“They weren’t able to get anything mobilized, but actually it was the nurse here that was able to give quite a bit of supplies, and the guys in Sri Lanka were amazed we were able to give that much.”
LaRochelle, the ICU and ER nurse-educator at KBRH, single-handedly rounded up critical paediatric supplies and stacked bags of them in the hospital’s dialysis unit, explained Dr. Raju.
“Nathan Browski a nurse in the East Kootenay then took the supplies to Cranbrook to Georgina Winger our chronic disease nurse. Georgi then transported the supplies to Dr. Li Pi Shan in Calgary who subsequently delivered them to Saskatoon.”
The doctors in Saskatoon then coordinated the transfer of supplies by plane to Lady Ridgeway Hospital for Children in Colombo, where they arrived on Oct. 20.
The hospital serves as the national referral centre for paediatric care for all Sri Lanka, and its director, Dr. Denister De Silva, sent a letter of appreciation to KBRH recognizing the efforts of staff.
“We are experiencing difficulties in managing the patients as there is a severe shortage of essential drugs, surgical consumables and lab consumables due to the economic crisis currently prevailing in the country,” said Dr. De Silva.
“On behalf of the Lady Ridgeway Hospital staff, I wish to extend my heartfelt gratitude to you for your generous donation.”
In all, the Kootenay nurses were able to collect and transfer 80 endrotracheal tubes and 48 laryngeal masks (LMA), a medical device that keeps the patient’s airway open during anaesthesia or while they are unconscious.
“It will make a huge impact,” said Dr. Raju. “These are life saving equipment that they have, if you can’t breathe we have to give an artificial airway, and especially with children it becomes much more critical.”
According to FloodList, in total 54,440 people in Western Province have been affected by the severe weather including strong winds, floods, landslides, heavy rain and lightning strikes.