MOORE, Okla. — When Michael Wawrzewski heard about the destruction in Moore, Okla., following an EF-5 tornado on Monday afternoon, he knew he could help.
Wawrzewski, a physician’s assistant and founder of Wichita-based Clinic In A Can, along with project manager Kyle Stevens, hauled one of the organization’s 20-foot modified shipping containers that serves as a medical clinic to Moore on Tuesday afternoon.
“We haven’t seen it all, but we went by the hospital and it looked like something out of a war zone – cars piled on top of each other, thrown around like little Hot Wheels,” Wawrzewski said.
“The hospital was just devastated. The roads we were on yesterday and the touring we did to see the areas of destruction – they all look bad.”
The container, which was located temporarily at a Home Depot parking lot before moving to its current position at a Walgreens, 1041 SW 19th St., is self-sufficient with its own generator, water supply and medical equipment.
The focus of the clinic will not be immediate relief for victims, but recovery efforts, Wawrzewski said.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Clinic In A Can partnered with Walgreens to serve as a medical clinic for local doctors and nurses, and to help with pharmacy distribution.
“With most disasters, we attempt to get (the wounded) out as quickly as possible and get them triaged to the appropriate level of care, usually within the first 12 hours…” he said.
“Now what we’re dealing with is people who stepped on a nail and need to get tetanus shots or volunteers are going in to help with the cleanup and there’s broken glass, sharp metal objects, nails and all sorts of booby-traps that, even as they are being careful, they’ll still get hurt.”
A Walgreens employee (who said she couldn’t be named because she couldn’t get a hold of media relations, neither could I) said that the company’s mobile pharmacy wasn’t going to be on location until Saturday and the clinic would help fill that role until then.
The clinic in Moore also anticipated donated medical supplies from Wesley Medical Center on Wednesday afternoon.
It is one of at least 15 clinics the group has built at its warehouse in Wichita since 2010.
The organization is an offshoot of Hospitals of Hope, which offers international medical aid. In the past, the clinics have been sent all over the world, to places like South Sudan and Haiti.
But this time, it’s closer to home.
It takes about 30 days for Stevens, the project manager for Clinic In A Can, to build a 20-foot clinic in a used shipping container at the facility in Wichita. The cost, after adding in a generator, heating and air conditioning, a water system and basic equipment is around $45,000.
The Moore clinic includes a gurney, cabinetry for supplies, diagnostic equipment and is telemedicine-capable, which means the inside can be monitored through a computer system from other locations.
The organization also builds larger 40-foot clinics that can be used for longer stays.