Ye Le, a nurse who works for the emergency care unit in Huaxi Hospital in Sichuan, is grateful to have had the chance to receive training from Polytechnic University (PolyU) following the devastating earthquake that hit the province in 2008.
"I acquired clinical knowledge and skills in the treatment and care of post-disaster victims, which is essential for saving the lives of patients. The training has also helped advance my knowledge in the classification of injuries," says Ye, who applied the know-how to the rehabilitation efforts in Yushu in Qinghai, which was struck by an earthquake last year.
Since 2008, PolyU's school of nursing has initiated a range of measures to help rebuild Sichuan and rehabilitate its residents, including the "training of trainer" programme that Ye attended. Jointly offered by PolyU and the Western Pacific region office of the World Health Organisation, the course provided training to 60 mainland nurses, covering topics such as disaster and wound management, infection control and psychological support.
In collaboration with the school of nursing of Huaxi Medical School under Sichuan University, PolyU's school of nursing has organised a series of training seminars, including sessions on post-trauma nursing in mainland cities that drew 1,300 health care workers from the mainland and Hong Kong.
Dr Li Sijian, a lecturer at PolyU's school of nursing, says the university is committed to providing long-term support to the affected communities.
"With Huaxi's school of nursing, we have launched an action and research project with the aim to develop community-based rehab and health promotion strategies for survivors and capacity-building initiatives for health care workers," Li says.
Last year, the project won the Practice-Academe Innovative Collaboration Award from Sigma Theta Tau International, the nursing honour society worldwide.
The PolyU team conducted community health needs assessments in two temporary housing areas in Dujiangyan, inhabited by about 6,000 residents. Preliminary findings show that the severity and incidence of health problems have decreased, Li says.
The PolyU team also offered free physical consultations and health education sessions, distributed manuals and set up two rooms for health promotion for the residents.
Drawing on their experience in Sichuan, Li says the school and Huaxi are developing postgraduate nursing training programmes.
"The courses aim to equip nurses with advanced skills in areas including critical care, intensive care and emergency units," she says. "Depending on when we obtain approval from PolyU and the Ministry of Education, the programmes may start at Huaxi in September 2011 or 2012."
PolyU has initiated a university-wide campaign to help with relief efforts and long-term rebuilding of Sichuan, involving academics and students in social work, nursing and engineering, among others
PolyU and Sichuan University are setting up a Training Institute on Disaster Management and Reconstruction, funded by Hong Kong Jockey Club