FUKUSHIMA Lives on the Line

84I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to all those who fell victim to the Great East Japan Earthquake.In the early days after the earthquake, I was tasked with handling daytime and nighttime triage operations at FMU Hospital. Currently, I am visiting homes and evacuation shelters to administer welfare support and care.In my conversations with patients while performing health checks, I heard their stories of suffering and became painfully aware of how much they went through because of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear power plant accident.Just the other day, I went from home to home near the fishing harbor in Iwaki. This area was heavily damaged—the magnitude of the earthquake was 6.0 here—and many homes were lost. I could see that the residents were extremely fatigued from their worries over whether subsequent calamities would strike and whether their lifeline would be cut off again.I pray that the people of Fukushima will be able to return to their peaceful existence even one day sooner and vow to continue my activities as a nurse.The department that I belong to, Regional and Family Medicine, visited local hospitals and clinics every day to deliver primary care. Myself and the members of my department, along with the local residents, were victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake. Immediately afterwards, we worked to aid in the recovery of operations at hospitals and clinics throughout the region. In addition, we worked to administer care at the evacuation shelters.It goes without saying that we did not have the equipment at our disposal that we needed. However, with the strong support and teamwork of the hospitals and clinics we visited, we were able to continue administering examinations in these trying circumstances. As we move forward, I would like to do everything I can as one of the individuals responsible for Fukushima’s health care. We must respond to the psychological effects of the anxiety the public is facing and deliver care to the new communities that have sprung up in the evacuation shelters and temporary housing facilities.The Power to Join TogetherNaomi TakazawaAssistant, Department of Community and Family MedicinePraying for the Day When Peace and Comfort ReturnMaki IitsukaLecturer, Department of Clinical NursingI would like to express my sincere condolences to all victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake.In the initial days of the disaster, I worked to help transport patients along the coast to new hospital facilities.Starting with relief efforts in Soma on March 23, we initially made rounds to each evacuation shelter and checked on the health of the disaster victims. Soon we were joined by a good number of medical support teams from prefectures across Japan. From March 29, we started direct home visits in the vicinity of the heavily damaged Soma harbor to confirm the safety of residents and check on the condition of their health.In this area, searches for missing persons are still being conducted by the police forces and by members of the Self-Defense Forces.We are visiting every home in two-person teams. As we do this, we are using residence records and maps created from aerial photos that helped divide neighborhoods into categories where houses are destroyed, half-destroyed, or submerged.During these visits, we learned that there were many residents with chronic illnesses who could not get access to their medicine, residents who had lost their children, and elderly residents living alone and unable to sleep owing to the fear of aftershocks. I feel very strongly that even in the future, these home visits must be continued in collaboration with various government divisions in order to provide support for these victims.Despite being affected by the disaster themselves, the staff of the Soma Health Office worked very diligently at their jobs, and I bow my head to them.Participating in Support Efforts for Disaster Victims at Their Homes in SomaNaomi FukushimaAssistant Professor, Department of Public Health and Home Care NursingOur Message, “Laboring on the Frontlines of Disaster Medical Care”