Ajdabiya: hospital staff remain as civilians flee.
Two doctors have gone missing and the building has been shelled as fighting over the past weeks spilled into the city. Medics there can often hear the thudding of Grad rockets landing at the [Ajdabiya]’s western outskirts as they work.
“It’s difficult to operate here. How can you operate when there’s bombing?” G.S. Mohamed, the hospital’s head of surgery, said. “We’re civilians, you know, we’re not used to war. Every sound affects us during the surgery.”
While civilians have fled, most of the doctors stayed behind, even when Gadaffi forces took over Ajdabiya in March.
Most of the nurses and office staff fled, however, after reports that Gaddafi’s troops had targeted hospitals in Misrata, giving the facility an eerie, abandoned feeling. Even patients do not stay long; they are sent to Benghazi after early treatment.
Volunteers from Benghazi and other towns have gone to help. They sleep in back rooms of the hospital, and many have not completed medical school.
But their help is needed on days like Saturday, when more than two dozen wounded rebels arrived, most hit by a Grad rocket salvo on the road to the oil port of Brega. At least eight rebels were killed in the attack, according to hospital records.
“Everyone was burned,” Mohamed Barasi, a 21-year-old medical student, said. “I’ve never seen anything like that in my life.”
Part of the hospital’s roof was blown apart during one battle, and pieces of concrete are still scattered on the ground nearby. Hospital staff said it was unclear if it was hit on purpose or by accident.
The twisted remains of a shell sit near the now-vacant reception, with a handwritten note attached saying it fell at the city’s western gate.
Michael Vovk, a Ukrainian surgeon who has worked at the hospital for more than eight years, said he did not plan to leave his adopted city despite the danger.“I’m not crazy. We’re all afraid. But we have hearts and we have a responsibility toward people,” he said. “We’re doctors. Our job is to help.”