Catastrophic collapse of Ahli Arab Hospital outpatient clinic in Gaza
updated December 18, 9:20 a.m.
At 2 p.m. on December 6, Suhaila Tarazi, Director of the Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza, was stunned to receive word that the 120-year-old outpatient clinic located on the hospital grounds suffered a complete and catastrophic collapse. No one was injured in the disaster. According to Hanna Theodorie, Programs Development Director for the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, at the time of the collapse, the doctor and nurse on duty had taken advantage of a brief lull in waiting patients to step out of the building for a break. "We thank God for his mercy," he said.
The daily clinic sees between 400 and 500 patients each month, offering all who come through the doors both basic medical care and referral visits to specialists.
As you know, the leaders of Ahli Arab Hospital have experienced a difficult year: U.S. cuts in aid to the United Nations agency that supports Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, threaten to end many services and programs offered by the hospital and a collapse of the decades-old water system in November is in the midst of being rebuilt.
The collapse of the outpatient clinic is, however, the most serious structural failure in the hospital’s history. The steel beams, roof decking, plaster ceiling, and surrounding walls caved into the room, collapsing into the basement below. If the clinic had been occupied at the time of the collapse, serious injuries would have resulted. (See real-time video of the collapse below.)
Ahli Hospital patients, staff, and doctors were rushed out of the area and temporarily relocated to a safe and secure area within the hospital grounds. Outpatient clinic visitors were redirected to the Physiotherapy Department. Since the collapse, patients have received treatment from medical professionals, though at a slower pace under these crowded and temporary conditions.
An engineering and construction team was immediately brought in to assess the damage and make recommendations for reconstruction. The engineering assessment determined that the failure of outdated and deficient bar joists - those not replaced in the most recent 1993 renovation - was the fundamental reason for the building collapse.
Still reeling from the barrage of challenges to its day-to-day operation, the hospital now faces the daunting task of raising a significant amount of money to rebuild the outpatient clinic.
AFEDJ trustees are formulating a plan to offer emergency support once we receive rebuilding plans and assurances that building materials can be obtained in Gaza.
Please keep Suhaila Tazarzi, Ahli Hospital’s director, and the doctors, staff, and patients in your prayers.
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