National Nurses Mobilize for Philippines Relief Effort

By: Deborah Burger, RN, NNU Co-president

Public Can Help Support Nurses Relief Effort

In the aftermath of the devastation from Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in the Philippines, one of the worst storms on record, the Registered Nurse Response Network (RNRN), a project of National Nurses United, has put out a call for volunteers and donations through its vast network of direct-care nurses both nationally and internationally.

We are inviting the general public to assist our efforts as well with contributions to send volunteers as well as other medical needs for the relief effort.

Deborah Burger and Clelie
The author Deborah Burger (right) during a prior RNRN relief effort in Haiti after a devastating earthquake

In the first 24 hours of our call for help,over 500 RNs signed up to volunteer. We continue to gather information and assessments from multiple sources, including the Philippines Alliance of Health Workers, a member of NNU's international affiliate Global Nurses United, to determine the need for nurses, medical supplies and financial support on the ground.

RNRN is in contact with nurses and other health care professionals in the Philippines to finalize the locations where we can be of most help, and number and specialties of nurses needed.

In the Philippines, communication channels are not yet re-established to many areas, but news reports have made clear that the horrid devastation is widespread, with fears of many more casualties yet to be assessed.

Several hospitals, along with thousands of homes and schools have been damaged or destroyed, and hundreds of thousands left homeless - many with long term shelter needs.

Watch and share this VIDEO appeal by Gina Macalino, RN.

RNRN has learned from our experience responding to disaster over the last decade that RN's have an especially important role to play in relief efforts, after the TV cameras have gone and the initial responders are depleted or deployed elsewhere.

In addition to the immediate acute care needs at this time, in the coming days and weeks there will be longer-term health effects to respond to. RNRN's goal is to send teams that can respond effectively to problems of dehydration, sepsis, a lack of access to clean water and lapses or lack of proper medication due to the storm.

"As U.S. nurses we have seen the effects of deadly storms and disasters and the pain it causes for our families and communities, said Zenei Cortez, RN, vice president of National Nurses United. "We know the difference it makes to provide support and assistance in a hour of need. We will do whatever we can to aid our sisters and brothers in the Philippines."

RNRN, a project of National Nurses United, the nation's largest organization of RNs, was formed in 2004 in the aftermath of the South Asia tsunami in 2004, when the need for nurses was not being met by traditional disaster relief organizations.

Since that time, RNRN sent a team of experts who coordinated the unprecedented RN response to the disasters of Hurricane Katrina and the Haitian Earthquake. Last year, RNRN worked with nurses from the Veterans Administration and the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) to provide disaster relief to the communities most affected by Hurricane Sandy.

What you can do to Help:

Volunteer: If you are an RN and are able to work on the ground for one to two weeks, please sign up here and provide information on your availability for the next few weeks.

Donate: RNRN is seeking financial donations to help their relief effort. For more information, go here.

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