On Monday, last week, World Vision staff handed over the keys of two US$1644 Mitsubishi New Armada vehicles to Dr. Rus Munandar, director of the Zainoel Abidin provincial hospital. The director was happy to receive the generous donation after the tsunami wiped out almost the entire hospital’s ambulance fleet. Of the fifteen ambulances the hospital owned, only one was left intact. For weeks, the hospital has been employing privately owned vehicles to ferry hundreds of people seeking medical attention. In addition, the world vision has given five hospital beds and hopes to donate an additional 295 beds in the future.
Commenting to on the help received so far, Dr. Munandar said, “I remember standing alone and wondering when the hospital would be working again and I thought that it would be impossible. Now I am very happy.” The tsunami not only destroyed ambulances and medical equipment, but also claimed the lives of 110 staff member and untold scores of patients.
In addition, Dr. Munandar reported that the hospital lacked sufficient equipment as 90 percent of it was destroyed. If the hospital can get two of the ten operation theaters running, Dr. Munandar says, then the situation would improve.
On the day of the tragic event, the hospital was shaken by a Richter-nine earthquake, prompting the staff to clear the hospital of all personnel. World Vision sources report that staff members could be seen pushing patients on wheelchairs and beds out in the open to avoid falling debris. Ironically, the staff and the patients found themselves in an open position when the waves swept in. In addition to the 110 hospital staff killed, an additional 200 remain unaccounted for.
Dr. Munandar only managed to survive because he was resting on Sunday with his family when the tsunami struck. The doctor quickly fled with his family to another hospital and climbed up the stairs to higher floors. When Dr. Munandar returned, he found the hospital in almost total ruin. Of the 400 beds the hospital once owned, only 120 remain. Most of the hospital beds were destroyed because the hospital wards were on the ground floor, he reportedly said. Dr. Munandar added that once the hospital has more beds it can start admitting patients from field hospitals run by foreign-aid workers.
Fortunately, the hospital has been up and running in the past weeks due to the help of military doctors from Germany, Australia, Germany, and Singapore. In addition, the hospital has enlisted the help of civilian doctors from China, Vietnam, and Cambodia. Indonesian troops also helped, clearing the wards of mud. World Vision workers, however, reported that the watermark could still be seen in the hospital interior.
Another hospital located closer to the ocean faired worst. The tsunami had smashed the building into twisted debris and metal. On that day, 18 staff member and 30 patients died. One of the few survivors, a surgeon, escaped with his life only because he elected to stay indoors to finish an operation. The director of the hospital, Dr. Marzuki, plans to have the hospital operational in three months. He had lost three daughters and a son, but expressed no signs of letting the tragedy stop his work.