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U.N. asks Wichita’s Clinic in a Can for converted shipping containers for Philippines

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, Dec. 9, 2013, at 9:53 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, at 9:14 a.m.

Clinic in a Can – a Wichita-based nonprofit that converts shipping containers into medical clinics – has been awarded a contract with the United Nations to send an ob-gyn hospital to the Philippines.

About 900 women affected by the recent typhoon are giving birth each day, and 15 percent of them could have life-threatening complications, according to the United Nations Population Fund.

“After the typhoon, and even now, people are doing open-air births, and they’re trying to reduce that and provide good medical care,” said Mike Wawrzewski, a physician assistant and founder of Clinic in a Can.

The hospital will be made from several shipping containers and will have a C-section and delivery suite, sterilization room, bathroom, two patient recovery rooms, a storage room and an office. All rooms will have air conditioning.

The three shipping containers with the different rooms will surround a wooden deck so that patients can be wheeled from one area to another. The entire structure will have a roof covered in solar panels.

The total aid package for the project is nearly $1 million, said Daniel White, international missions coordinator for Clinic in a Can. The cost includes the clinics, shipping, medical equipment, supplies and other donations.

Most of the clinics cost between $45,000 and $50,000 to build, in addition to equipment and shipping. This project has a higher cost because of the solar power system, roof and deck, White said.

This is the first project that Clinic in a Can has done in conjunction with the United Nations. Clinic in a Can was started in 2004 as an offshoot of Hospitals of Hope, which offers international medical aid.

“It’s pretty cool to assist in this level, and the U.N. sought us out,” Wawrzewski said . “We’ve always known that this is what our niche would be.”

Several Clinic in a Can representatives will travel to the Philippines to help install and set up the hospital, which will be staffed by U.N. physicians.

White said he does not know the final location of the hospital, but it is being shipped to Cebu Province in the Philippines. Other clinics have been sent to South Sudan, Sierra Leone and Haiti, as well as disaster sites in the U.S.

In addition to the hospital units, Clinic in a Can is sending the clinic that was used in Moore, Okla., in May after a tornado struck there. Because it has its own diesel generator and water system, it can function separately from the hospital units and will likely be sent to another location in the Philippines, White said.

Getting disaster aid to the other side of the world poses logistical challenges, Wawrzewski said.

In order to get the containers to the Philippines, two 40-foot containers will ship out Dec. 16 by ocean freight and two 20-foot containers will be shipped out around Dec. 19 by air freight.

It will take about 35 to 45 days for the ocean freight to reach the islands, White said.

The project will use all of the pre-made clinics the organization has on hand, he said.

“Mike (Wawrzewski) has had the vision to have several of these clinics in stock ready for disasters, so that’s what allowed us to get this and send it over, because they obviously need something right away and making one could take two weeks to a month, plus equipping it,” White said.

“Our continued vision once we send these out is to make more to have on hand for disaster relief.”

For more information on the organization, visit www.clinicinacan.org.

Reach Kelsey Ryan at 316-269-6752 or kryan@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @kelsey_ryan.

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