Just days after last year's earthquake, Dr Tony Redmond, Professor of International Emergency Medicine at Manchester University, led a team of British doctors to Sichuan on a mission largely funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID). The team set up their base at Chengdu Second People's Hospital and traveled around Sichuan performing emergency surgery and training local medics.
It was the start of an ongoing partnership between the British doctors and the Second People's Hospital. In February 2009 Dr Redmond brought a team of eight UK specialists to Chengdu to deliver a major training program on psychological rehabilitation of patients traumatized in disasters.
Hospital Director Xu Junbo said the hospital managers had discussed their training needs in detail with Dr Redmond. They agreed that the top priority had to be building the skills necessary to deliver long-term psychological care. "Treating broken limbs is relatively easy. If you follow procedures patients improve quite quickly, but psychological damage takes much longer to resolve," he said.
The hundred or so hospital staff who attended the course will, in turn, train others around Sichuan. Doctor Xu said Chengdu Second People's Hospital is at the heart of a major training effort to raise standards of rehabilitation care to international levels throughout the province. Standards of care have already improved, he said.
Whether due to the psychological care she has received or her own natural resilience, Li Yunxia is remarkably up-beat considering her serious injuries. One factor may be the bonds she has formed with other earthquake victims she met in the rehabilitation center. "I've made friends with lots of the other patients," she said. "We keep in touch all the time. We are always phoning each other up and asking, how are you, how are you doing?"
(China.org.cn May 11, 2009)