Lutheran Jerusalem hospital sends teams to aid stricken in Gaza

(Photo: LWF Jerusalem / Mark. Brown)The Lutheran World Federation's Augusta Victoria Hospital's second medical team left for Gaza on August 4, 2014. Photo: LWF Jerusalem/M. Brown

The Lutheran World Federation's Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem has sent two medical teams to help stricken people in Gaza following Israeli bombing in a bitter shelling war with Hamas.

"We are attending to 11 severely injured casualties in the ICU at Nasser Hospital but cannot move them anywhere. It is too dangerous," said Dr. Tawfiq A. Nasser, chef executive Officer of the Augusta Victoria Hospital.

At the start of last week m Gaza the Lutheran World Federation-run AVH had sent two volunteer medical teams, totaling six doctors and six nurses, to Gaza to care for the increasing number of people injured in the ongoing conflict with Israel.

"Sending the medical teams to Gaza is part of the hospital's service to the Gaza Strip.

"This action comes in response to the extreme needs identified by the medical staff in Gaza and rises out of AVH's determination to serve the injured due to the Israeli shelling and bombing," Nasser was quoted as saying in an LWF report.

He noted that reports from Gaza indicate that many people have sought refuge at hospital grounds in the Gaza Strip, as these are considered to be the safest places in the city.

But the people seeking shelter add even more pressure to the hospitals' capacity.

"The hospital grounds are full of tents and make-shift houses. It is the safest place in the city. People keep arriving. I do not know how much more the hospital can hold. It is one big refugee camp," the AVH medical team wrote from Gaza.

"There are people sleeping all around us in the hospital, on the floors, in the corridors, homeless, hopeless, with no families. Volunteers in the hospital do nothing but mop spilt blood covering the floors

"The smell of blood is the only odour. The atmosphere is overwhelming as you encounter the massive stories of sorrow, pain and loss."

Nasser said his team described working under stress and very difficult conditions in Gaza.

All forms of infrastructure - including electrical stations, schools, hospitals, water and sewage systems, and homes - have sustained damage.

"We started feeling the pain and agony around us and we cannot escape it. A child is sleeping on a piece of cardboard next to his father who is severely injured," one of the medics wrote.

"Every time I pass, the child is asleep but keeping an eye on his dad to make sure that his dad is still next to him and alive. The child does not want to become an orphan and be left alone."

The AVH team includes specialists in emergency medicine, intensive care, surgery, internal medicine and pediatrics, with accompanying specialty nursing. The team also brought in much-needed medical supplies and medicines.

Five hospitals and 34 clinics have been shut down in Gaza due to the insecure situation. The AVH is planning to send at least 10 missions to Gaza in the next three months. More than 9,000 people have been wounded in the conflict.

Copyright © 2014 Ecumenical News