Doctors at Gaza’s Al-Ahli Arab Hospital on Sunday appealed for an immediate supply of medical aid, surgeons, nurses, x-ray technicians and operation theatre technicians to cope with an increasing patient load.
The Al-Ahli hospital is also witnessing a rush of civilians seeking shelter as the two largest hospitals in the besieged territory – Al-Shifa and Al-Quds – have shut down following Israeli attacks on them that began last week.
The Al-Ahli hospital was also bombed on October 17, leading to a large number of fatalities but it resumed operations towards the end of the month. The hospital, however, continues to struggle with limited supplies.
Dr Fadel Naim, the head of the hospital’s orthopaedic department, has sent voice notes to media groups on WhatsApp highlighting massive shortage in medical staff. “Right now, the only functioning hospital is Al-Ahli hospital, therefore we are receiving [a] huge number of people with complicated injuries,” Naim said.
As he spoke, bombing could be heard in the background.
“Ours is a small hospital, it is not prepared to be a trauma hospital,” Naim added. “We are now modifying ourselves to fit the need.”
Al-Ahli hospital is managed by a non-governmental organisation and has limited specialities such as paediatric, orthopaedic, ENT, general surgery and gynaecology. The hospital does not have specialised surgeons to handle complicated trauma procedures.
On Sunday, Naim said that he received a woman who had undergone a caesarean surgery a month ago and had now suffered explosion wounds in her abdomen, vagina and rectum. “She needs a complicated surgery, which requires gynaecologist, general surgeon, rectal surgeon,” the doctor said. “We don’t have this specialisation.”
He added: “She has to wait until we find them. This is risky. We may lose her because of the waiting time.”
The hospital is also receiving dehydrated children, Naim said. Poor hygiene in refugee camps and in the city is resulting in cases of vomiting and diarrhoea among several children.
He said that with so many wounded coming in, the hospital is in dire need of blood supplies. “The central blood bank is in western part of Gaza around Al-Shifa Hospital,” he said. “Nobody can reach there. We tried many times to go there, but the Israelis shoot at sight.”
This area is surrounded by Israeli military tanks.
The doctor said that patients in hospital are in hemorrhagic shock and need blood transfusion. “Some patients already died because of lack of blood,” he said.
The hospital is postponing all surgeries that are not life saving. Most injured, Naim said, require orthopaedic procedures and have been kept on hold to give priority to life saving surgeries.
Naim also said that most of the health staff have not met their family for weeks. “Last I saw my family was three weeks ago,” he said.
His family is in a refugee camp in southern Gaza.
“If we go to the southern part, it is risky to return to the north,” Naim added. “So most of us decided to not go and we stay in hospital for 24 hours.”
Dr Ghassan Abu Sitta, a plastic surgeon at Al-Ahli, told Al Jazeera that the hospital has over 500 wounded persons and only three surgeons and two anaesthetists.
“We are the only obstetric service in Gaza,” he said. “But we are in short supplies. We have to perform excruciatingly painful procedures on wounds of patients to stop them from becoming infected, and with no anaesthesia. Because we have such limited supplies, we are saving it for life saving surgeries.”
This reporting was supported by a grant from the Thakur Family Foundation. Thakur Family Foundation has not exercised any editorial control over the contents of this article.