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HOUSE CALL WITH DR. SANJAY GUPTA

Hospitals Under Attack; War's Psychological Effect on Children; Ducking for Cover in Nahariya

Aired July 29, 2006 - 08:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: "Now in the News," Israel rejected a U.N. request for a 72-hour cease-fire to deliver aid and to evacuate civilians in south Lebanon. Israel says Hezbollah is blocking the safe routes that have already been set up.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice heads back to the Mideast today. She will discuss a U.N. resolution to end the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah. We're going to have a live report from Israel at the top of the hour.

Well, extra protection this morning at Jewish temples and Islamic mosques in Seattle. That after a shooting Friday at a Jewish center. One woman died, five others were injured. Witnesses say a man who opened fire claimed to be a Muslim angry at Israel. The suspect was arrested late yesterday. Seattle police called the shooting a hate crime.

On Capitol Hill, the House wants to give hourly workers a pay raise. Early this morning, they voted to boost the minimum wage by $2.10 over the next three years to $7.25 per hour. The Senate vote is expected next week.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta is in Haifa. On today's HOUSECALL, the latest on the healthcare infrastructure in the Mideast and the toll it's taking on the people living on both sides of the conflict. That's HOUSECALL from Haifa with Dr. Gupta starting now.

SANJAY GUPTA, HOST: Good morning and welcome to a very special edition of HOUSECALL. I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta reporting to you from Haifa, Israel.

Now for more than two weeks, the fighting has escalated in the Middle East. And seeing all those explosions on television is one thing, but experiencing them firsthand is entirely different, as my crew and I found out just a few days ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA (voice-over): We were downstairs in the hospital when we heard the thud of a rocket hitting.

(on camera): We've been here for a couple of hours now. We heard five different sirens go off. Then we heard a loud thud. And this last one, there is smoke rising.

Look how close this is to the hospital. Look how close this is to the entire medical center. This is what it's like every day for these doctors and these patients.

(voice-over): The rockets' target seem to be random. This one landed in the middle of a turnabout on a busy road. This one in a busy marketplace.

(on camera): This is the actual blast site. This is where the missile actually hit. To give you an idea, it's about 8 feet by 8 feet in diameter around here square footagewise. But the impact is obviously felt much further on.

I want to give you an idea. Take a look at this building made out of concrete. All the damage there actually from ball bearings. These rockets are filled with thousands and thousands of ball bearings. They smash out windows. They make dents in the concrete, and obviously can injure people as well. The blast site is here, but the impact is felt just about everywhere.

(voice-over): In Haifa two weeks into this war, it seems every building has become a temporary bomb shelter.

(on camera): We're definitely starting to get a sense that people are more frightened. Just about 10, 15 meters away, there was actually a strike just about a half an hour ago. Sirens go off again. People are scared. You can see it right here. They're -- sirens are going off. There's a question whether or not there will be another air strike right around this area in the next few minutes.

(voice-over): After the sirens go off, there's usually only about a minute before the rockets hit. By late afternoon, rockets have ceased. Israeli Defense Forces report the Katyusha launch site near Tyre, Lebanon, that fired so many of those rockets, was taken out. For now, good news for Israelis.

But launch sites are very mobile. And another one may soon take its place.

From the perspective of many of these citizens, a ceasefire is nowhere in sight.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: You just caught a glimpse of Rambam Hospital, which you can see off in the distance there. We spent the day there as the entire area around that was getting shelled. And what we learned was that doctors and nurses cannot let this conflict interfere with caring for the injured.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA (voice-over): Rambam Hospital, the largest hospital in northern Israel. Now for the first time ever in the target zone. Doctors under fire.

(on camera): We're in the operating room suite at Rambam Hospital. I want to show you something that has really not been seen before. Doctors who are actually operating under situations of conflict while under attack themselves. They're responsible for saving other's lives.

(voice-over): There is a calmness here as Dr. Tony Carm operates. A few floors above, guerneys and ambulances waiting. Today, they will all get used.

A loud thud and an explosion close, too close. And then an increasingly familiar routine.

(on camera): You really get a sense of what's happening out here. You saw the ambulances take off after that thud. Not even a hundred meters away probably here. It is total pandemonium here, but everyone is getting ready. They're getting their gloves on. They're getting their garb on. They're waiting for any trauma that might actually come into the hospital. This is where they'll come in this particular area.

(voice-over): Within minutes, patients come pouring in, all of them civilians. Hard to say how badly wounded the bloodied, banged up, and certainly terrorized. Suddenly, all those sirens and thuds come to life.

(on camera): Just to give you a sense here, you get the sense that there's been a lot of shrapnel injury here, probably some blast injury as well. Obviously, a lot of bleeding here, especially from the shrapnel.

(voice-over): Many of the injuries come from these vicious ball bearings packed into the rockets. I saw them firsthand.

(on camera): Take a look at these pellets. The rockets that we've been talking so much about are filled with thousands -- tens of thousands of these pellets. I want to give you an idea of how much damage they can do. Take a look at this car. This is close to the blast site. Look at these pellets have gone straight through the body of the car, shattered out all these windows. Through the car seat as well. This car has been completely devastated by these ball bearings. Imagine what they would do to the human body.

(voice-over): Today, no one dies from the missile strike. Quickly breathing tubes are placed and the blood is replenished. Patients stabilized.

Rambam is one of the finest trauma centers anywhere in the world. Still I saw it in Beirut and now here in Haifa. Hospitals are not immune in this war.

(on camera): I used to think that hospitals and ambulances and healthcare workers should be given some immunity from the war, but it doesn't appear the case this time around.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually, it doesn't. You know, my daughter asked me some days ago when she was crying when the sirens went on, she asked me why did I continue to go to work. I told her that it was accepted usually in different - in the whole world that no one sends rockets to hospitals. So I would be safe here, even safer than any other places. But it seems it's not the case anymore. GUPTA (on camera): And as the operation continues, this is just another day in the life of Rambam Hospital.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: As the fighting continues, civilians are caught in the crossfire. The most vulnerable ones are children. CNN's Aneesh Raman reports on the psychological effects this is having on Lebanese children.

Listen to this. They're being forced to spend their summer vacation as refugees in a different country, Syria.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A world away from this refugee center, it is in this fairy tale that 11-year-old Muhammed finds a moment of escape. For him, the days here are long. The nights longer.

"When I go to sleep," he tells me, "I dream about the people that are dead that were shot by Israel, and of people being pulled up from under rubble. In my dream, I saw a child with no head, so I woke up and decided not to sleep anymore."

A week ago, Muhammed says he fled from southern Beirut with his two-year-old sister Hadil and his mother, who is seven months pregnant. His father stayed behind to protect their home.

And now this is his life, passing time aimlessly. Lunch is a portion of rice. Dinner will be the same. Days blend together in what is Muhammad's summer vacation, one where he has seen death, destruction and the worst of war.

"I want to tell my friends back in Lebanon," he says, "that I miss them a lot. And I want to tell them to come to Syria or they will get shot."

(on camera): Muhammed is just one child here. His just one story. At this refugee center alone, there are over 100 kids under the age of about 12. And the psychological permanent scars of the horrific scenes they left behind are what volunteers here fear the most.

TALAL AL-KHAYAT, VOLUNTEER: They seem terribly sad. Because they've been out of their -- they have been hit right next to the house. Some of them aren't eating. They're still in the shock of the war. And them leaving their country just like in two minutes, they left their house. They came here with nothing.

RAMAN (voice-over): All here are dazed. Parents sit silently for hours. And their children tend to follow suit.

There are attempts to change the pace, getting kids to play as they might had this war not begun. But the war is all that is talked about. The anger at Israel, the support for Hezbollah. Muhammed, like many kids, has one of the flags tucked away in this cabinet. He says they are heroes. It's what he's been told. And now, it is what he believes.

Aneesh Raman, CNN, Damascus.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: Coming up on this special edition of HOUSECALL, we go underground. That's where one hospital operates to avoid all of this dangerous shelling.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: Welcome back to a special edition of HOUSECALL. I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta reporting to you from the port city of Haifa, Israel.

I want to show you something here. Just over my right shoulder is one of the homes that was so severely damaged by one of those Katyusha rockets that we've been talking about.

And about 20 miles from here is the city of Nahariya. Now when the sirens go off there, they have only about 30 seconds to take cover because they are so close to the Lebanese border. That means just about everyone, including the hospitals, stay underground.

CNN's John Vause gives us a firsthand look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The wards are deserted. The beds left empty because from these windows is a clear view all the way from here in Nahariya to Lebanon, a clear view as well say hospital officials of the incoming Katyusha rockets.

MOSHE DANIEL, DR., DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NAHARIYA HOSPITAL: We are now in the underground hospital.

VAUSE: Dr. Moshe Daniel is the deputy director of one of the biggest hospitals in Israel's north. Within hours of the first Hezbollah rockets, he says all 250 patients were taken to this sprawling medical facility a floor below the main buildings. They've been here ever since.

So how safe is it here right now?

DANIEL: Oh, we are completely safe. It's -- the roof, it's over 60 centimeters high. And we have another four floors above. So this area is completely safe.

VAUSE: From intensive care to pediatrics, this bunker is testimony that for Israelis the threat of war has been a constant. Most of the injured brought to this hospital over the last two weeks have suffered from shock, but a few have been hit by shrapnel like David Levy. A hole blown in his left leg described as a moderate wound.

"Until now, I've had three operations," he tells me. The fourth is coming in two days. I can't see an end to it.

Ali Hab (ph) is an Israeli Arab also wounded by a Katyusha. All he would say to me, "God help us. I hope there will be peace in the world."

But even during our visit, four Katyushas landed outside. But below ground, the patients are oblivious to the impact of the blasts.

(on camera): The staff here say they've lost count of the number of Katyushas which have landed nearby. And they believe because the building is relatively tall, and can be clearly seen from the Lebanese border just a few miles away, the hospital has become a target for Hezbollah rockets.

(voice-over): So far, no direct hits. But there are fears that in the weeks ahead, the relative safety of this underground hospital could be put to the ultimate test.

John Vause, CNN, Nahariya, northern Israel.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: And as the fighting continues here and in Lebanon, more and more people are fleeing from their homes. CNN's Becky Anderson introduces us to one Lebanese teenager who's taken refuge in a dilapidated hotel with nothing more than the clothes on her back.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Conditions here at this derelict hotel just outside Beirut are basic, to say the least, but there are no vacancies. All the rooms are taken by desperate and frightened people.

These represent just a small fraction of the hundreds of thousands of Lebanese people who have been displaced since Israel started bombing the country.

14-year-old Mariam came here with her family from south Lebanon. Today, she helps unload food parcels delivered to the hotel by aide workers. It's room service of a very different kind. She, like many others, fled her home with little more than the clothes on her back.

MARIAM HIJAZI, FLED SOUTHERN BEIRUT: We were so, so sad, of course. We took a car, yes. And we were so scared about the street. If they will make anything or anything. And we came here,. We came here with my family.

ANDERSON: For the couple of hundred people staying here for the arrival of Mercy Call with food parcels was a welcome site. 50 boxes in total. And this is just one of several deliveries around the area today.

(on camera): Well this is what's in a typical box. You got some pasta here, some gnocchi, some tuna. What's in this one? We've got some tea in here, some Arabic tea, some sugar, some rice. They've got some lentils and things as well.

So this is a typical box for one family of 10 for about 15 days.

Now in this building alone, this derelict building alone, there are 48 families here. And this is their first distribution of aid.

(voice-over): Aid workers say they're doing what they can, but conditions on the ground are difficult. For the time being, people like Mariam are relatively safe from the Israeli air attacks. She knows, though, that the divisions in the region are deep, but believes that all sides in Lebanon must unite to bring about a lasting peace.

HIJAZI: I feel that we're one family, not many families, and that we have to be one family to protect our Lebanon. It's for us, not for anybody else.

ANDERSON: A deep and meaningful message from one so young which Mariam hopes will be heeded by leaders both here in the Lebanon and around the world.

Becky Anderson, CNN, Beirut.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA: This special edition of HOUSECALL will continue in a moment. But first, a look at this week's medical headlines "In the Pulse."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JUDY FORTIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Drinking one to seven alcoholic beverages a week may lower the risk of death and heart problems in those 70 and older. University of Florida researchers aren't certain why, but they doubt there's a connection with alcohol's anti-inflammatory effects.

The FDA has approved sales of a new type of sunscreen containing Nexeril SX (ph), a protection against harmful ultraviolet rays but it's been available in Europe for over a decade.

Summer heat is taking a toll across the country. Staying hydrated is essential to preventing heatstroke. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, confusion. And you may stop sweating. If you experience signs of heatstroke, experts advise getting medical help immediately.

Judy Fortin, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GUPTA (voice-over): The soaring cost of fuel has airlines looking to trim the weight of their planes any way they can. For example, weight limits on baggage are being more strictly enforced. Some airlines have done things like removing on board ovens or converting to lighter seats.

Toilets are flushed during the extended ground delays to reduce the amount of water on board.

But there's one weight the airlines can't control, and that's yours. A decade ago, the FAA set the estimated weight for a passenger at 180 pounds. In 2003, the average was up by another 10 pounds. Airlines are learning to deal with the fact that Americans are getting bigger.

ANDREW DANNENBERG, DR., NATIONAL CTR. ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH: As the average weight of the American public is going up, then airlines are necessarily having to fly more weight.

GUPTA: A study of the unexpected costs of obesity by the CDC says that Americans expanding bottoms are hurting the airlines bottom line.

One study showed airlines spending an extra $275 million a year just to pay for the fuel that's needed to carry traveling Americans extra weight. And that was back in 2000, when jet fuel cost half of what it does today.

The ATA, the trade group for the commercial airlines, says it doesn't study obesity's impact on fuel costs, but that the CDC study sounds just about right. And the CDC thinks there's a general message here which affects us all.

DANNENBERG: I think it does point out one of the consequences of obesity on the population. And obesity is a major public health issue that needs more attention.

GUPTA: As if there needs to be another reason for Americans to lose weight, a few airlines have begun requiring what they call customers of size to buy two tickets to fly.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GUPTA: Welcome back to a very special edition of HOUSECALL. Many countries around the world have pledged humanitarian relief to the region so devastated by the recent fighting.

CNN has assigned more than 80 reporters here as well. And here are some of their most vivid observations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We were in Haifa hospital when many Katyushas fell in downtown Haifa in northern Israel. And within minutes, many casualties were brought into that hospital, many with horrific injuries. But the one thing that did stick with myself and my team was when we were in the children's leukemia ward, when the air raid sirens sounded. Now many of these children were too ill to be moved into a safe room, which was basically just a room without windows. This particular ward was north facing, facing Lebanon, which meant it was in the direct line of fire. And to see many of these children who could not be moved, many terminally ill and too sick to go anywhere else with fear in their eyes made you realize that even terminally ill children in hospitals were not safe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's difficult to talk about the medical moment that's made most impact on me since we arrived here in Tyre. Another boy, for example, another rocket attack, another day, another rocket attack, he was badly burned. His baby sister was also badly burned.

And you can see the shock in these people. They don't know what's happening to them. This guy was hallucinating. A nine-year- old just screaming out and screaming out for his mother, his face badly burned. Those are the things. He'll never recover from those scars. You know, we're just going to walk away from this, but those people are going to be living with the consequences of this war for the rest of their lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: And here is some of my impressions of what I've seen, as I've reported from the combat zone.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA (voice-over): So we're in Beirut doing all this reporting on the hospitals there. And we're seeing - I mean, it's a terrible situation. There's no question about it.

But we needed to get into Israel, because you needed to see how the hospitals were coping here in Israel as well. When we got into Haifa, we found in this incredible hospital, Rambam Hospital, people in this part of the world certainly know about it. But it's this trauma center that takes care of the stuff unfortunately on a daily basis.

You got to remember, this is Israel. I mean, they're used to terrorist attacks. They're used to suicide bombings, all that sort of stuff.

So this hospital's equipped to take care of it. They will clear patients out of a trauma center as quickly as you can possibly imagine.

A couple things that really stuck out to me was, you know, you see these rockets land. And it's just this random sort of sequence of things. And it's this constant worry, this constant anxiety. Sirens go off. People would run into these bomb shelters, which could be somebody's home. It could be a market place. It could be an apartment building. It's whatever. I mean, everything is a temporary bomb shelter in this town.

This is going to be going on for a while. Luckily, there are hospitals that are actually able to take care of patients, but you worry at the same time that those hospitals and those healthcare professionals and the nurses, and everybody who's doing their jobs are also becoming in the target zone as well. They're lying in that zone where they could potentially be targeted.

And you get these incredible stories of doctors and nurses doing their jobs, saving the lives of others while potentially being injured themselves.

You just get the sense, as we wind up here, that there's not an end in sight, at least for the people who are working so hard on the ground.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GUPTA: Thanks for watching this very special edition of HOUSECALL. I'm Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Stay tuned now to CNN for continuing coverage of the conflict in the Middle East.

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