JHM Response to Tsunami Crisis

Johns Hopkins Medicine
Office of Corporate Communications
January 5, 2005

JHM Response to Tsunami Crisis

Numerous members of the Johns Hopkins community are involved in coming to the aid of the tsunami survivors, both as individuals and as members of relief teams.

Hopkins Medicine leaders worked with a team of three ED nurses from Bayview, Brian Wahl, Emily Seay and Audrey Rutkowski, seeking permission to join a relief mission enroute to Jakarta and then on to remote regions of Indonesia. With the help of HR and our law office we have arranged for them to be gone for one month, and they already have left for that devastated nation. They will be joining at least one or two other Hopkins medical colleagues, including emergency medicine physician and fellow Alex Vu, M.D., who also is part of the Center for International Emergency Disaster and Refugee Studies (CIEDRS), housed in the Bloomberg School of Public Health and jointly sponsored by BSPH and the Department of EM. This team leaves Tuesday, January 4, and is coordinating its efforts through the International Rescue Committee. Once in Indonesia, they will provide direct medical relief to disaster victims and assist with establishing a surveillance system to monitor infectious disease and injuries resulting from the disaster.

Another group, of Sri Lankan descent, is prepared to travel to Sri Lanka as part of an International Medical Health Organization team, as soon as the bottleneck at airports allows. Based on intelligence they have from the ground in remote parts of that country, we will provide much needed drugs and medical supplies for their team. Among those involved in helping to coordinate this effort are Arjun Chanmugam, the residency program director in Emergency Medicine, Ananda Kumar of the Radiology Department, and Ruben Amarasingham of Internal Medicine. Faculty leading the efforts are Greg Greenough and Chayan Dey. Ken Grant and Bob Feroli are assisting this team.

CIEDRS is involved with providing technical assistance to NGOs, UN agencies, and local governments affected by both human-generated and natural disasters. In that context the Center is sending one faculty (Earl Wall) and one MPH student (Brian Crawford) to assist in public health assessments in Aceh, Indonesia, in addition to the team led by Alex Vu.

Faculty, alumni and students of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who are currently in the countries swept by the tsunami are doing their utmost to aid the survivors and protect health. In the past, the School has trained more than 170 public health workers from South Asia in disaster management courses. One such course was completed just months ago. This is critically important as the best thing we can do to meet these emergencies is to continue to build and train an indigenous infrastructure and manpower.

Many of you have asked whether Johns Hopkins will be collecting money to send overseas. We encourage individuals to donate to bona fide relief organizations and have provided a list. Dean Al Sommer, of the Bloomberg School, notes that he learned firsthand 30 years ago in Bangladesh that the greatest immediate need in this kind of disaster is water, food and shelter, and direct contributions to the relief organizations on the ground are most helpful in the immediate aftermath.

While we have attempted to give a preliminary overview of the Hopkins response to the tsunami, others also may be involved.

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