Saipan just entered its third month of recovery from Typhoon Soudelor, yet many residents still need a lot of help to weather the challenges brought by the island’s strongest storm in 30 years.
One group in particular, AmeriCares, is providing medical care to those in need and has been able to provide care for almost three weeks non-stop. It is working in collaboration with the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., federal agencies, emergency response agencies, and community based organizations.
AmeriCares is an emergency response and global health organization. The group that is here on Saipan is being coordinated by AmeriCares emergency response manager Kate Dischino.
AmeriCares currently has one doctor, Dr. Susan Herson, who goes on home visits, while other responders within the group help out at the Commonwealth Health Center or the mobile clinic that CHCC provides on Saturday afternoons with the Community Outreach Recovery Efforts group.
Dischino said they also have a physician assistant, a family nurse practitioner, and seven registered nurses.
Herson said they are currently helping out at the Community Guidance Center in providing home visits to patients.
“CGC made a list of about 21 families in need and have identified some medical problems and had promised some indemnity because they are in difficult circumstances. Maybe because they are not under insurance or maybe they aren’t even citizens. So we have a geographic area and had a list put together,” Herson said.
Dischino said the CGC had gone to the community to offer referrals but since they don’t have medical expertise, they approached AmeriCares if there is any way to partner up.
Herson noted that they always go out in a team with two counselors from CGC because they knew where the survivors are.
“Always with permission. I would always say hello and I say that I am from the mainland and if I can offer some medical help. Everybody, except one so far, has been very accepting and very happy,” Herson said.
Herson carries at least three packages filled with medical supplies such as a blood pressure cuff of two different sizes for hypertension screening and a glucometer for diabetes testing. She also brings prescriptions, rash creams, lotions, powders, and other medical supplies upon request.
“I have a prescription pad. As long as they are willing to give their name and date of birth, I go back to the hospital and fill all their prescriptions and go back to the family. I deliver their prescriptions for free. The prescriptions last for at least 30 days and sometimes 60 days,” she said.
“My plan this week is to see what has happened with the diabetes, blood pressure, and sugar and see if it has improved,” she added.
Herson also provides information about continued care at the Family Care Clinic.
She said that Dr. Beth Lin is available at FCC for ongoing care so she gives families a pamphlet and a phone number. “So anybody can come and there is paperwork to fill up, it is on a sliding fee, it won’t be free, but at least they have continued care when we return to the mainland,” she said.
Herson cited two things that everyone needs to be aware about after a typhoon: mold problems that could potentially increase asthma attacks and fungal rashes.
So far she has delivered an albuterol inhaler to a woman and showed her how to use the inhaler. This was because she had mold in her bedroom.
“That is a case that a person didn’t have asthma before the storm,” she said.
“One other problem is fungal rashes. The lack of electricity makes the homes very moist and fungal infections love moisture and warmth. The combination puts it under the breasts, the groin, and for babies under the chin.”
She has already seen about 15 on the CGC’s list but wants to see at least all of them. She has also seen more than 50 patients during the Saturday clinics.
Dischino said that although AmeriCares is here until Oct. 15, Herson will be leaving on Oct. 13.