Mission to Thailand


Shands chairman of pediatrics Dr. Terry Flotte walks Thursday around a bungalow destroyed by the tsunami at the Khao Lak beach resort. Khao Lak is a resort town on the western coast of Thailand, approximately 70 miles north of Phuket.

DAVID MASSEY/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Friday, January 14, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 14, 2005 at 1:57 a.m.

The team of two doctors and two nurses from Gainesville who flew to Thailand on Monday to assist survivors of the tsunami are getting a first-hand account of the tidal wave's monumental devastation.

Dr. Kevin Ferguson, emergency medicine specialist from Shands at the University of Florida, reported via the Internet that the group spent Wednesday in Khao Lak, a seaside town on the southern coast of Thailand that was hit hard by the overwhelming tidal wave of Dec. 26.

"TV doesn't do it justice," Ferguson writes. "It's horrifying."

He adds, "I just repaired a man's leg who was gored by an elephant being used to clear the debris."

Ferguson and Dr. Terry Flotte, chairman of the department of pediatrics in UF's College of Medicine, planned to visit a refugee camp (Thursday), then move on to the Phuket hospital to try to set up an intensive care unit during the weekend.

"Next trip, we'll need to bring a Thai interpreter," he adds, noting that language is proving to be a major barrier.

Beyond the need for medicines and medical equipment, Ferguson foresees a growing need for psychiatric counseling among the survivors.

"There will be lots of post-traumatic stress disorder in the next months."

The Alachua County Medical Society has set up a fund to assist in

the medical mission. Tax-deductible contributions can be made by check to Alachua County Medical Society Foundation Inc. and mailed to the ACMS at 235 SW 2nd Ave., Gainesville, Fla. 32601.

Diane Chun can be reached at 374-5041 or chund@gvillesun.com.

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