Supporting the Refugees from Fukushima Prefecture

–Report from Medical Co-op Saitama–

By Miyatake Maki

Saitama-Nishi Sports Center, in the close vicinity of Kawaguchi Clinic of Medical Co-op Saitama (in the suburbs of Tokyo) was designated to be an evacuation center on March 18 for the refugees of nuclear power plant disaster from Fukushima. As of May 6, 75 evacuees live in the facility.
Dr. Terashima Mariko (age 84), the first director of Kawaguchi Clinic, visits the evacuation center every Wednesday since the end of March, at the request of local people for giving medical care support. She has kept a close eye on the health condition of the people who were forced to move away from home to live there.
On April 13, Dr. Terashima visited the center for the third time, together with Ms. Suzuki, the head nurse of Kawaguchi Clinic. The doctor was concerned about the one-year-old boy, who had a stomach upset a week before.
At the entrance of the building, the boy was sleeping in the stroller next to the mother, who was talking with a volunteer worker of Kawaguchi City. Nurse Suzuki brought some rice porridge and apples for the baby, for easy digestion. The mother was 25 years old and rearing the baby by herself. Seeing Dr. Terashima and Nurse Kawaguchi, she smiled. But her health condition was not good, and Dr. Terashima checked her.
As the doctor judged that the mother was in need of medical treatment, the nurse called Kawaguchi Clinic at once, and made an appointment for examination at 2 p.m. on that day. Earlier, Dr. Terashima requested a local city councilor to visit them at home, in light of the future of the mother and the baby. Nurse Suzuki said to the mother, “It is not good for you to continue living in the evacuation center like this. It seems better for you to apply for welfare benefits and consider moving out of here. Tomorrow, a city councilor will visit you, so you should consult with him.”
Timed for the visit by Dr. Terashima, Medical Co-op Saitama members set up a desk at the entrance of the sports center and offered simple health check-ups to the evacuees. Ms. Okawa Katsuko, the leader of Nishi-Kawaguchi Branch of the Co-op said, “We want to be of some help to the people in need.”