Moving medical camp helps over 1,000 people

An International medical team of volunteers from US, UK and Nepal treks the Tamang Trail in Nepal, and provides medical care on the move.
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A team of health professionals traveled to
Nepal in October with the ambitious goal of
trekking the little known Tamang Heritage Trail
and providing free health care to thousands of
Tamang people living in the remote Rasuwa
District. Visiting 7 villages along the trekking
route the team established formal medical
camps in Gatlang, Chilime, Timure and Syabru
Bensi and saw additional patients in Tatopani as
well.

The trip began for most of the participants
with 24 hours of air travel from the US to Nepal.
The Mountain Fund/KFK staff met the team at
the airport and we boarded a rented bus to
transfer to the Hotel Ambassador, our
Kathmandu base.

The second day in Kathmandu was spent
sorting the boxes of medicine, eye glasses,
medical supplies and camping equipment. The
following day the group boarded a bus bound
for Gatlang. Though only 120 km from
Kathmandu, the trip to Gatlang normally takes
10 hours over rough roads. This time the trip
took nearly 15 hours however owing to a large
landslide which had closed the road. When we
arrived at the landslide area the medical team all
walked around the construction that was
underway as two large road-working machines
attempted to open a path for our bus. In the
end, over 30 porters tied a rope to the bus and
pulled it up the final hill. It had taken two hours to make it 1 km but the way ahead to Gatlang
was now open.

The team arrived late in the evening at the
trekking lodge which has recently opened in
Gatlang and after a hasty dinner called it a day
so we'd be rested for the medical camp there
the next morning. Between 200 and 300
villagers turned out for medical care and were all
seen by the end of the day. From the first camp
it was obvious that Pete Korpi, an Optometrist
from Muscatine, Iowa was much in demand.
Assisted by his daughter Katie, Pete saw over
225 patients and prescribed over 175 pairs of
glasses.

The most common complaints were vision
problems, intestinal parasites, wounds and
women's health. Dr. Dorothy Kammerer-Doak of
Albuquerque, New Mexico who is an OBGYN
specialist saw the women while her husband
Bob Doak took charge of medicine for intestinal
parasites.

After Gatlang we packed everything up and
walked a few hours to the Chilime damn site
where we set up for another camp. We used two
Mountain Hardwear space stations as our
primary medical buildings and some borrowed
space in the local school for our pharmacy. The
pharmacy was staffed by Shelly Ogle and Ann
McCollum, both from Albuquerque, New Mexico
and Sudha Dhungana, a nurse from the Karing
for Kids clinic at nearby Goljung. The pharmacy
was constantly busy dispensing medication and
translating instructions from English to Nepali
and then into the local language, Tamang. A
tedious process made possible by a really
dedicated group of interpreters who traveled
with us.

Dr. Beth Hall-Thompson from the UK and
Lindsey Mahlstedt from Albuquerque took the
front line triage positions and directed patients
to wound care, headed up by Susie Rivard and
Tu Mach and the general medicine tent staffed
by Nepali Doctor Alish Prajapati. Each patient
selected by the triage team was first seen by the
intake team of David Diaz and Kerry Flint from
Albuquerque, New Mexico. Tina Quack of
Albuquerque, saw patients needing respiratory
therapy and Michael Falcone helped direct
patients from one area to the next.

The logistics didn't end with how to triage
and care for over 1000 people while trekking. In
all 42 porters, a kitchen staff of 11, 3 Sherpas
and one Sardar were employed to move the
team down the trail. A team of 82 people in all.

To learn more about The Mountain Fund, please visit their website at www.mountainfund.org

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