After spending the last two and a half weeks caring for earthquake victims in remote villages in Nepal, members of the Scripps Health Medical Response Team are returning to Kathmandu where they will rest for a couple of days and prepare for the long trip home to San Diego.
As I’ve mentioned before in this space, the five team members have been working under the auspices of the International Medical Corps (IMC) as part of two medical groups that included physicians and medical responders from other health systems and organizations.
Scripps members of the first group – Tim Collins (corporate vice president, operations and research), Debra McQuillen, RN (assistant vice president, cardiovascular services) and Jan Zachry, RN (vice president and chief nursing executive) – arrived at the capital earlier today. The second group – Patty Skoglund, RN (senior director of disaster/emergency) and Steve Miller, RN (senior director, clinical services) – will arrive in Kathmandu tomorrow.
IMC plans to host a dinner for the Scripps team Wednesday night.
Throughout the deployment, the Scripps responders provided care to approximately 2,230 patients in at least 13 isolated, mountainous villages that in most cases were accessible only by helicopter. On their final mission day, the first group reported evacuating a patient and several family members to a larger city for additional care.
Tim Collins said of the Scripps team, “Everyone is safe, exhausted but absolutely fulfilled with the work. As we wind down the operation, we have begun to process this experience and look forward to being home. The team is extremely grateful for this experience.”
Patty Skoglund, with the second group, said, “The team is enjoying each other’s company tonight, sharing stories and playing cards. We have become a close family over these three weeks.”
She noted that many of the young Nepalese volunteers with whom they’ve worked are now preparing to take on the roles of the Scripps team members.
“The local volunteers are having a difficult time with our departure as they see us as friends and, in some cases, parent figures," Patty said. "I believe we have given them hope and strength to become leaders in their own right and to begin to rebuild their lives. They are all so smart and survivors, they are bound to move forward. This is our greatest success here, leaving this young generation with hope and confidence to begin again.
“We look forward to coming home, but feel a great sadness to leave a country that is still in such need of humanitarian help,” Patty said.
Along with all of their colleagues at Scripps, I am eager to welcome the team members back to San Diego.
They are medical heroes who have extended this organization’s legacy of delivering compassionate, healing care to people at their time of greatest need. We can’t wait to have them home!