Santa Clara doctor volunteering to bring medical aid to devastated Philippines
Dr. Nina Chicharoen, an Emergency Department physician at the Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center, is leaving on a medical mercy mission to the storm-ravaged Philippines. Dr. Chicharoen will be working with other Kaiser Permanente physicians volunteering for Relief International, which has set up operations outside the devastated city of Tacloban on the island of Samar.
The powerful storm killed more than 2 thousand people, and many thousands of others will be needing continuing medical care in the coming days and weeks. Some will die of their injuries.
“I just wanted to help in any way that I can, “said Dr. Chicharoen, who earned a Masters of Public Health from Harvard. “My thesis was on disaster preparedness in Thailand. I am on the emergency department’s disaster preparedness team.”
And a few years back, she qualified as a member of the elite “Doctors without Borders”, an international medical group that often responds to large emergencies.
Nonetheless, this will be Dr. Chicharoen’s first mission to an actual disaster scene. However, she received her emergency training in the nation’s largest and busiest public emergency department at New York’s Bellevue Hospital Medical Center, and she is nothing but confident.
Dr. Chicharoen will be joining Kaiser Permanente’s Dr. Vivian Reyes in the Philippines. Dr. Reyes is also an emergency physician at the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Hospital. Dr. Reyes will be the medical leader of the team, while Dr. Chicharoen will be treating patients.
“She is an excellent physician,” said Dr. James Lin, Chief of the KP Santa Clara Department of Emergency Medicine. “Many of our staff are of Fillipino descent and we are all touched by the tragedy in their homeland. Our group quickly pulled together to provide Dr. Chicharoen with the flexibility to leave work and have the opportunity to provide relief to those suffering in the Philippines.”
Other Kaiser Permanente physicians will be leaving for the Philippines in the coming weeks. Like Drs. Reyes and Chicharoen, many of those going were volunteers at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Sites that were set up at the summer sailboat races The America’s Cup. Fortunately, of course, there were no serious casualties then.