WEWAK HOSPITAL NEEDS MORE STAFF TO COPE AFTER PNG TSUNAMI

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By Neville Togarewa

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (July 22, 1998 The National)---The Wewak general hospital needs at least one anesthetist and 30 nursing staff to cater for an influx of patients arriving from the Aitape disaster zone.

Dr. Linda Tamsen, a general practitioner at the Wewak hospital, told The National yesterday they had requested the Port Moresby General Hospital (PMGH) to provide more medical and nursing staff to cope with the additional workload.

She said PMGH had responded favorably and at least one anesthetist and some nursing sisters were expected to arrive in the East Sepik capital today.

Wewak hospital has a total staff of 157. They are now caring for 48 victims who were flown in from Aitape on Sunday and Monday.

Dr. Tamsen said they were expecting more patients to arrive because Wewak had beds and facilities to look after 52 additional patients and up to a maximum of 200, especially with Vanimo provincial hospital being "overloaded" at present.

She described the conditions of the 48 patients now in Wewak hospital as "stable" with 80 percent of them suffering from broken bones.

Three of them, one man, one woman and a boy were also suffering from gangrene because of the severity of their injuries, Dr. Tamsen said.

The hospital has sufficient drugs to last for at least two days and the hospital authorities have appealed to foreign governments through their embassies and high commissions here to assist with essential drugs.

"Right now we have drugs to last us for at least two days and we have appealed to the authorities to provide us more essential drugs to cope with the influx of patients," Dr. Tamsen said. "We are depending heavily on foreign governments and have asked high commissions like Australia and New Zealand and embassies like Japan and Indonesia to assist."

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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