Red Cross Red Crescent field hospital opens in Bangladesh
Words and cover photo: Corinne Ambler, IFRC
After weeks of hard work, the Red Cross Red Crescent field hospital in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, has opened its doors.
The hospital will help address the huge health needs of more than 600,000 new arrivals from Myanmar, as well as local people.
Team leader Peter Meyer can't hide his delight as he meets some of those waiting for treatment.
"We are just so happy, the whole team is smiling today. Everyone is so excited and we are just ready to deliver."
Doctors, nurses and volunteers from Bangladesh Red Crescent are given a last minute briefing before the doors open. Local staff at the 60-bed hospital will be supported by a team of international medics.
The first patient through the door was Nurul Abshar, brought in with an ear infection by his worried mother.
He didn't need to be admitted, but it was a different story for little Muhamed Hares, who had a collapsed lung, and was the first patient at the hospital to be operated on.
"He's only eight months old and has already had to deal with so much in his short life," says his surgeon Cecilie Bjerke from Norway, who sang to the baby as he recovered from the operation.
“But he’s come through surgery well and he is getting the best care under the circumstances.”
The hospital will treat a variety of illnesses and injuries, including respiratory complaints, diarrhoea, and complicated pregnancies. It also has an isolation unit in case of an outbreak of watery diarrhoeal disease such as cholera.
It is supported by a team of 30 international staff – many doing vital back room jobs such as IT and telecommunications, keeping everything running smoothly.
The international medical team will support the hospital for the next four months. For now they are relieved to be seeing a steady stream of patients, mostly people displaced from neighboring Myanmar.
In its first week the hospital has seen more than 1000 patients and performed six surgeries. Most people are presenting with respiratory complaints, fever, diarrhoea, as well as dehydration and malnutrition.
"When the first patients came through the door I felt really proud," says Finnish nurse Sari Bergstrom,” pictured below taking a break in the outpatients department.
Her comments are echoed by Caroline Holt, deputy team leader. “Weeks of physical hard work have all come together. All of us feel a great sense of achievement.”
Click here to watch a time-lapse video tour of the hospital.