I am a pediatric nurse from Children's Hospital Boston. I joined the Japanese volunteer nursing organization called Cannus, and came to Ishinomaki for one week. Currently, the main focus for this organization is try to help the people transition from the schools/auditoriums/shelter areas to temporary homes.
As it has been discussed before, the mental health has been the main issue for the people in Ishinomaki. Buildings and hospitals have been restarted, so supplies are in a bundle, but people still have the fear of earthquakes. It seems as if people are even more afraid of earthquakes now compared to the time before March 11. There were already 2 small earthquakes while I was here the past 2 days. I don`t know how I can get rid of that fear from people.....
The other fear is for the elderly who are having a difficult time transitioning to the temporary homes. Many of these temporary homes were sometimes 2 hours away from their original place, making people move to a complete foreign city. All the shelter areas are completely shutting down on Oct 11, and some people are even refusing to move into their temporary homes. But of course, the city can`t place all the temporary homes near the water again....
More updates to come! I am going to a different area tomorrow, and hope to take more pictures as well. Thank you to BJMRI for helping me with this trip, and hope to update more about Ishinomaki.
Cannus`s website: nurse.jp
Hypertension and alcoholism
Two major mental health issues in Ishinomaki were elevated blood pressure and alcohol abuse. With Cannus nursing volunteer organization, we started going into the temporary homes and finding information about the residents in the homes and the environmental changes the residents are facing. We had several simple health clinics with the residents and were able to talk to the residents about their health issues. The most common problem within the elderly was elevated blood pressure. Blood pressure was easily average 150s systolic and 90s diastolic. There were many cases with systolic in 200s. Residents are mainly already taking ACE inhibitors and calcium channel blockers, but blood pressure remains to be high even with medication. My main question for this was how is the one of the healthiest country has blood pressures in 200s?
Alcoholism is one of the most growing health issue within the temporary homes. We had a presentation specifically about alcoholism and how we can help these residents. These residents are mainly 50s60s, and has been in the shelter for months and still not able to find a temporary homes. These residents are having violent behavior at times within the shelters, and causing other issues in the community. After they are transitioned to the temporary homes, there are problems of these people becoming isolated and none of the problems are solved. Cannus's main goal was to try to prevent the isolation in these temporary homes, and have the residents realize to their problems, and seek help on their own.
Attached are pictures from Ishinomaki. Even though it has been six months from the earthquake, buildings remain to be destructed as if the tsunami came through the city yesterday. I sometimes can't believe that this developed country like Japan is taking forever to rebuild the city....
Thank you very much for all the help from BJMRI and being able to share my experience to other health care workers in Boston. Hopefully this helped and influenced other health care workers to come back to Japan.