‘We’re here to serve’

FREEPORT, Grand Bahama – Philip Paulino, 56, had difficulties breathing when he woke up yesterday morning.

“I could hardly breathe so I decided to come here,” Paulino told The Nassau Guardian.

“After they run some tests on me, they told me there may [be] a blood clot around my lungs. So, they gave me three days’ supply of blood thinner and they told me to follow up on Thursday.”

He said the treatment and medication were both free.

Paulino is one of more than 4,000 patients to receive medical treatment at the Samaritan’s Purse in Freeport, Grand Bahama.

The organization has performed at least 70 surgeries since Dorian decimated parts of Grand Bahama last month.

“We are currently committed to being here for at least 90 days, so through that initial phase and then ongoing with health,” said Melanie Wubs, the director of the organization’s medical mission on Grand Bahama.

“…We’re just here to serve the people of The Bahamas, not only when it’s big and on the news, but through the whole entire recovery process.”

The doctors at the hospital perform about three to five surgeries per day, according to Wubs.

However, the surgeries are not performed in the usual medical facilities.

They are performed under tents in a makeshift field hospital that’s erected opposite the Rand Memorial Hospital.

There, international disaster specialists work with doctors and nurses from around The Bahamas and the world.

At any given time, nearly a dozen patients can be seen seeking assistance in the hospital’s outpatient waiting room.

Some have towels wrapped around their arms.

Others complain about shortness of breath or severe body aches.

Johnell Humes, 23, a resident of Hunter, is one of those patients.

After waiting roughly an hour, she received treatment for chronic back pain and stomach aches.

“They moved kind of quickly though,” Humes said.

“It’s important to have places like this, especially after something like Dorian [and] especially with the Rand closed. If someone is really sick or maybe dying, it’s important to have something like this here to help them until they can go somewhere outside Grand Bahama.”

Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse, has said the organization is focused “on getting critically needed supplies and medical care to those who need it most”.

The organization’s two-acre compound is equipped with a laboratory, pharmacy, emergency room and operating theater.

It also features a male ward, a female ward and an intensive care unit.

In total, there are 36 beds in the hospital.

It is unclear how long the field hospital will be operational on Grand Bahama.

“In terms of our healthcare response, it just depends on how long the need is here and what happens with the construction of the Rand Memorial,” said Wubs, who also works as the public relations officer on the island.

Samaritan’s Purse operates in collaboration with the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) and USAID.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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