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McMaster doctor heading to Nepal to treat earthquake victims

It might be daunting to some to travel to a country that has been struck by two deadly earthquakes in one month, but Dr. Lynda Redwood-Campbell has no qualms about heading to Nepal.

“That makes me think more that I need to go,” says the professor and global health co-ordinator in the department of family medicine at McMaster University.

“You always have to be careful in these situations and be vigilant. Safety and security is always number 1 for the team … but, having said that, the need is very great.”

Redwood-Campbell is heading for Nepal on Thursday for a month to be team leader of the emergency response unit for the Canadian Red Cross. The unit will also involve medical personnel from China and the Philippines.

The first quake hit April 25 and the second on May 12. On the weekend, the death toll from both had reached an estimated 8,600 people. Thousands were injured and hundreds of thousands were left homeless.

Travelling to disaster zones is nothing new to the doctor. She was in Indonesia in 2004 after the tsunami, in Haiti in 2010 after its earthquake and cholera outbreak and in the Philippines in 2013 after typhoon Haiyan.

She is prepared for the devastation in Nepal, but admits that a person can only prepare so much.

“Every situation is different and every situation requires a reassessment and an evaluation and decisions around priorities and plans.”

Redwood-Campbell will leave for Ottawa on Wednesday to be briefed by the Red Cross. Once she lands in Nepal, she envisions living and working in a field hospital in a rural area north of the capital, Kathmandu. It will be one of about half a dozen Canadian Red Cross facilities operating in Nepal.

The doctor has been in touch by text and email with members who are already working in Nepal and says none of them was hurt during the May 12 quake.

“Our team has the ability to see babies, to see older people, to see any kind of injury,” she said. “We have the ability to do surgeries and, if they require other services that we don’t provide, we have the ability to transfer them to a different facility.”

The Red Cross is also providing mental health services.

“As you can imagine, there are a lot of physical injuries, and things we need to treat, but there is a huge need for mental health support after this kind of event.”

Read original story on The Hamilton Spectator’s website.

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