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UN contracts with Kan. company for typhoon help

Published on -12/15/2013, 2:58 PM

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WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -- A Wichita company that turns shipping containers into medical clinics has been contracted by the United Nations to send an OB-GYN hospital to the Philippines to help with the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.

Clinic in a Can is a Wichita-based nonprofit started in 2004 as an offshoot of Hospitals of Hope. It will provide a hospital that includes a C-section and delivery suite, sterilization room, bathroom, two patient recovery rooms, a storage room and an office, all of which will have air conditioning, The Wichita Eagle reported (http://bit.ly/1aRHX0N ).

About 900 women affected by the Nov. 8 typhoon are giving birth each day, and about 15 percent of them have possible life-threatening complications, according to the United Nations Population Fund.

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

Three shipping containers with the different rooms will surround a wooden deck so patients can be wheeled from one area to another, and the structure's roof will be covered in solar panels.

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

The project marks the first time the company has done work for the United Nations.

"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."

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

Two 40-foot containers will ship out by ocean freight on Dec. 16, while two 20-foot containers will be sent by air freight around Dec. 19, Wawrzewski said.

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

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

"Mike (Wawrzewski) has had the vision to have several of these clinics in stock ready for disasters," White said. "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."

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Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com

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