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University of Michigan Health System nurse heads to Philippines to provide typhoon relief, 11/23/13

A Typhoon Haiyan survivor uses a market umbrella to protect himself from the rain in his destroyed neighborhood in Tacloban, Philippines on Friday Nov. 22, 2013. Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced by Typhoon Haiyan, which tore across several islands in the eastern Philippines on Nov. 8. (AP Photo | David Guttenfelder)

By Chelsea Hoedl

A University of Michigan Health System nurse is among aid workers preparing to provide relief to the typhoon-ravaged Philippines.

Tim Launius will travel to the Philippines on Saturday with a team of registered nurse volunteers to provide medical support in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.

The death toll from the typhoon has risen above 5,000 with 1,611 people still missing, Philippine officials said. Haiyan hit the eastern seaboard of the Philippines on Nov. 8 and quickly barreled across its central islands, packing winds of 235 kilometers (147 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 275 kph (170 mph), with a storm surge of 6 meters (20 feet). In addition to the large death toll, the storm left widespread destruction in its wake.

Tim Launius Courtesy of the Michigan Nurses Association

Launius and his group will work at clinic sites around Roxas City, located on the northern end of Panay Island. Clinics are being set up in the area with local public health officials, physicians, a church and other community supporters.

Lanius and nurses from New York, Las Vegas and Southern California, will be the second team sent by the National Nurses United’s Registered Nurse Response Network to provide relief.

“I’m not sure what I’ll be doing once I get there,” Launius said. “It could be anything from trauma to first aid or working in an operating room. I just want to help in any way I can.”

Launius will leave Saturday morning after only 43 hours to prepare for the 11-day trip.

“I got a call Thursday afternoon and I’m leaving at 7:30 in the morning on Saturday,” Launius said. “I had to round up coworkers to work for me, I’ve had to get a series of shots and I’ve been buying clothing appropriate for the trip. Luckily the people I work with stepped right up to the plate and it took no time at all to have my 60 working hours covered. ”

This will not be Launius’s first experience with disaster relief efforts.

“After Hurricane Katrina I went to Texas and essentially ran a diabetic clinic,” Launius said. “It was a rewarding experience. We have the ability and technical skills to help, which is why I signed up to volunteer in the Philippines.”

Although Launius does not speak the local language, he said he doesn’t think it will hinder his ability to help those in need.

Launius is among nearly 3,000 RNs from across the United States and 19 nations who have volunteered to assist with relief efforts.

National Nurses United continues to encourage nurses to sign up to assist in the relief project. The public can contribute by visiting NNU’s website.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Chelsea Hoedl is an intern reporter for The Ann Arbor News. She can be reached at


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