Palo Alto Weekly

News - March 25, 2011

After the disaster: Enoch Choi's Japan Blog

In new Palo Alto Online blog, local doctor relays efforts of medical team sent to Japan to aid earthquake victims

Enoch Choi, a partner at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Urgent Care Center and a disaster-relief veteran, isn't in Japan yet. But he's at the heart of relief efforts by a medical team that arrived in the Sendai area of Japan this past week.

To inform Midpeninsula readers of the ongoing challenges facing the Japanese in the wake of the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami, Choi has launched a blog on PaloAltoOnline.com, Enoch Choi's Japan Blog.

Choi will provide updates about the medical-aid efforts, with links to videos and photos shot by the team.

"We've had a physician, nurse and team of support folks in the disaster area in the past week," Choi said. All are experienced in disaster relief, having aided in Haiti and after Hurricane Katrina.

As a first-world nation, Japan is much like the Bay Area, and given the risk of the San Andreas fault, a local disaster could look similar to that in Japan, Choi said.

"We could be in these same conditions," he said.

Approximately a half-million Japanese took to shelters immediately after the initial quake. Some have returned to their homes; however, without resources, they are returning to shelters for food and water, Choi said.

There are those who lack prescription medications for chronic health conditions. Others have colds, flu or were injured trying to recover property from their homes. Contaminated water has led to gastrointestinal disease as well.

Choi's medical team is composed of personnel from the nonprofit humanitarian organization Jordan International Aid, which is working with the National University of Singapore Entrepreneurship Centre and a multidisciplinary team of skilled social entrepreneurs, nutritionists, health professionals and disaster veterans.

The team brought its own food, supplies and shelter, Choi said.

Choi and a few other Palo Alto Medical Foundation doctors are ready to travel to Japan as well, once the risk of radiation lessens.

— Jocelyn Dong

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