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Indian doctors in America help Katrina victims

The Indian doctors of American Origin are helping out the victims from Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.

Hundreds of members of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin// (AAPI) - the umbrella organisation of Indian doctors in the US who number over 25,000 - have volunteered their services to help victims of the trauma and devastation in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

The volunteers hail from almost all other states in the US. Scores of them from Texas worked round the clock at Houston's Astro Dome.

In San Antonio, Texas, where a contingent of nearly 30,000 refugees from Katrina were channeled, psychiatrist Malathi Koli listens to a grandmother who says: "Doctor, I have 15 children with me and I don't know whose they are."

Desperate parents wanting to save their children put them with her partially submerged home because they knew she would be rescued first, even as their own lives remained in danger.

Koli is also in the know of women who had been raped in the dark at the New Orleans Super Dome where panicked residents fled to escape the rising waters.

Jain, along with the 146 patients and 500 employees and family members, was moved to Veterans Affairs Medical Centre facilities in Houston, Jackson, Shreveport, Alexandria or Little Rock.

He said: "Everyone from respiratory therapists to nurses to pharmacists to physicians . We used our collective skills to overcome the deficits.

"We have had an outpouring of response on our appeal for help from members," AAPI president Vijay Koli said. "Some 250 doctors have already volunteered."

Koli contacted AAPI members in Louisiana after the hurricane hit the state. "When I called them on ground zero, they said not to come here, that they don't have any resources," Koli recalls.

The burden of care has fallen significantly on Texas physicians. In Houston, the Indo American Physician Society led by Rakesh Mungal has taken the challenge of asking doctors to help.

IAPS has been provided 15 to 20 doctors to the Houston Astro Dome round the clock every day, providing help ranging from basic primary care to injuries.

The more critical patients are siphoned to the various hospitals through the Harris County Medical Society (the largest society out of the 119 medical societies in Texas).

The response from physicians has been so great that Texas has actually had to refuse help. The Texas Medical Association got five times the number of physicians volunteering than what it had asked for.


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