Building Renovated with American Red Cross Funds
The Japanese Red Cross—with financial support from the American Red Cross—is helping to rebuild Japan’s health infrastructure, damaged from the 9.0 earthquake and devastating tsunami that hit two years ago.
Yoshiko Sugawara, 83, sits in the hospital waiting room in Japan, gently explaining to her husband the medical exam he has just undergone. He suffers from memory loss and Yoshiko hopes that he will be accepted into a day care program because her health has also been failing since the disaster.
“I’ve had lots of psychosomatic health problems after the disaster – my daughter in law and grand children spent ages struggling in the water and my son’s home was 70 percent destroyed,” she said.
It’s been a challenging situation. She’s had lots of stress-induced health problems since the disaster and has experienced prolonged periods of pain.
“I am gradually getting better, “she said. “We’re very grateful to all those people abroad who supported this hospital.”
She credits her doctor, Dr. Minoru Kawashima, the chief physician of the hospital, and the calming environment of the hospital with providing comfort and a space to heal.
The hospital is one of two permanent hospitals rebuilt by the Japanese Red Cross with American Red Cross funding, building off the national society’s expertise of running medical facilities. In addition, four temporary hospitals and medical centers, a social welfare care center and a Red Cross nursing school have also been rebuilt or in midst of construction, again with American Red Cross funds.
Dr. Kawashima came to the disaster area as a volunteer and was persuaded to stay. Due to the work of the hospital staff and the improved hospital environment, the emotional state of local residents is gradually getting better.
“Two years ago, people would cry during consultations, but now they are able to talk about their feelings,” he said.
He plans to invite more young doctors in training to work at the hospital so that he can offer more frequent services to families in this devastated area.