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ACCUEIL / ÉVÉNEMENTS / Beirut Explosion 4th of August 2020
 
Beirut Explosion 4th of August 2020

 
 
 

August 4th, 2020: The day that changed Beirut's fate

In less than five seconds, a blast explosion at Beirut’s Port rocked Beirut at 6:07 pm on August 4, 2020. The explosion was classified as the third most powerful explosion in the last century.

The shock wave took all buildings in Beirut by storm within a 30 km radius from the epicenter, shattering in its path all glass facades and windows, blowing up doors and walls, transforming hundreds of houses into ruins, where Ashrafieh was one of worst districts that got hit. This disaster left a census of more than 5000 wounded and more than 200 deaths, with hundreds gone missing. It left more than 300,000 people displaced, with no home to go back to.

At just a distance of 1.3 km, the Lebanese Hospital Geitaoui-UMC (LHG-UMC) was one of worst hit hospitals from the blast.  

The Lebanese Hospital Geitaoui - UMC, one of the first hospitals in Lebanon, was founded in 1927 by father Joseph Selwan Geitaoui. The hospital administration was entrusted by the founder to the Congregation of the Maronite Sisters of the Holy Family established by Patriarch Elias El Hoyek in 1895. Since 2010, the hospital has been co-governed by Sister Hadia Abi Chebli and Professor Pierre Yared, dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the Lebanese University. The hospital’s governing board is headed by the Superior Mother Marie Antoinette Saade.

 As a multidisciplinary, tertiary care hospital, LHG-UMC always strived to being the first in providing quality medical care services:

  • 1969: First hemodialysis equipment in Lebanon
  • 1981: First CT scanner imaging center in Lebanon
  • 1988: First lithotripsy center in Lebanon
  • 1991: First MRI equipment in Lebanon
  • 1992: First Burn center in Lebanon
  • 2013: Acquired the status of University Medical Center
  • 2015: Opening of an Excellency Center for Hypertension.
  • 2016 : Opening of an Excellency Center for Neurophysiology (May 2016) 
  • 2017 : Opening of the new building on March 18th
  • 2020:  2nd May, Opening of the new COVID-19 Unit
  • 2020:  22nd July, Opening of the new Interventional Cardiology and Electrophysiology Department

 

This University hospital is affiliated with the Faculty of Medical Sciences - Lebanese University, the only public Medical School in Lebanon.

 With a building surface area of 44 000 m2 and a total capacity of 260 beds, the hospital provides care for all of the following specialties:  Internal Medicine, Gastro-enterology, Infectious Diseases, Adult and Pediatric Oncology, Critical Care Medicine and Chronic Care, Renal Dialysis, Interventional Cardiology, Cardiac surgery, Neurology , Neurophysiology and Advanced Neuro Surgery, General Surgery, Orthopedic Surgery, Reconstructive Surgery, and Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology. The hospital also plays a vital part in the medical training of the medical students of the Lebanese University, in addition to many nursing and paramedical students.  It has also the first and only specialized Burn Care Unit in Lebanon.

Moreover, this institution is home to more than 700 employees and 150 medical doctors and 120 medical students.

4th  August, 6:07 PM: Evening of the blast

It took just a few seconds to almost destroy what took almost 94 years to build and establish. The explosion shattered the new hospital glass façade, blew out each of our 20 elevators, every patient room was affected with shattered glass, blew out ceilings and doors, injuring most of the hospitalized patients. The Operating Theatre walls, doors and ceilings exploded, and the critical care areas and burn center were also heavily damaged by the blast. A significant number of healthcare personnel and most of our hospitalized patients were injured in their own beds. Fortunately, there were no fatalities among our patients and staff.   

In minutes, the Emergency Department, which also was not spared in this disaster, had to manage an overflow of severely wounded patients coming by foot, car and ambulance. The scene can only be compared to nothing less than a war zone. The ER was quickly filled with blood, wounded patients, children, the elderly; some unconscious and some in very critical condition. Our devoted hospital employees, included those who were wounded themselves, tried to come to the rescue by any means possible. Doctors and nurses were rushing everywhere, tears in their eyes, covered with blood, trying to rescue a maximum number of patients. IV lines were quickly inserted, blood transfusions given in mass, and emergency life-saving medical and surgical procedures were performed in basic ER rooms. Operating Rooms were not accessible, nor functional, since all elevators were damaged, and some critical procedures including three brain surgeries were performed on site in the ER. Patients who needed to be transported throughout the hospital for emergent medical imaging were carried by nurses and doctors down the stairs or throughout the streets to other hospital entrances, wrapped by their linen sheets, as stretchers were not enough and elevators were damaged.  Stocks of basic medications and paramedical equipment were transported by administrative staff among the ruins in the hospital to reach the Emergency Department in sufficient quantities to help the wounded.

Due to our damaged clinical wards, elevators, no access to our operating theatres, many of the injured casualties, after immediate medical attention, had to be referred to other healthcare institutions. The damaged clinical floors had to begin evacuating the currently admitted inpatients, after ensuring their wounds were attended to and they were stable, and where either transferred to other hospitals, or discharged home.

With one heart the whole healthcare team (medical doctors, nurses and administrative staff) with their tireless efforts, was able to control the situation within a few hours and most of the patients were stabilized or transferred by 4 am. However, despite these efforts, we unfortunately lost 12 patients and the scenes of mourning loved ones were witnessed with high emotion and engraved in every employee’s mind.

The morning after

The next morning, the extent of damage the hospital endured was surveyed. The total estimated cost of damages is approximately $5 million.  The detailed breakdown of costs for certain departments is still underway.

The explosion was found to damage all of the following:

  • All 12 clinical wards were affected by shattered windows, blown out doors, broken ceilings, damaged air ducts and damaged furniture and medical equipment, especially our 9 operating theatres, oncology, pediatrics, critical care areas (ICU/Burn Center/CCU) and outpatient clinic departments.
  • Our newly opened 25-bed COVID-19 unit was completely destroyed, including the negative pressure room equipment and air handling units
  • The Operating Room glass façade, walls, ceilings were shattered and air handling units were severely damaged
  • All 20 elevators were blown out and left no longer functional
  • The medical imaging department’s,  ceilings, doors completely fell apart, and the radiology reading room was totally destroyed along with all its equipment
  • Our newly opened Interventional Cardiology suite walls, ceilings, doors were also torn apart
  • The Laboratory and Histo-Pathology Department sustained damaged ceilings and shattered glass throughout, but the Microbiology and Molecular Genetics section were heavily damaged
  • Administrative departments such as the Admissions and Billing departments sustained blown out walls, windows and ceilings
  • The warehouse and laundry sustained blown up windows, shattered ceilings and walls
  • The hospital’s main entrance, cafeteria and kitchen were also left in ruins

 

By 24 hrs, the hospital was no longer functional, and was on almost zero bed capacity, only able to care for the few critical non-transferable patients. Almost 700 employees and over 100 medical doctors are also left with no work.

The will to rebuild

In spite of all this, our mission and commitment towards our patients and our dedicated employees and our country and our loyalty to this institution has only grown stronger. We are committed to help our patients, and our employees who consider the Lebanese Hospital Geitaoui their second home. We are proud to have managed to reopen the Dialysis unit in less than 48 hrs after the explosion, to ensure that these critical chronic patients continue their life-saving treatments, and not have their treatments cancelled or even sent to an unfamiliar center.

We will also be deploying a field hospital near the hospital’s emergency department, in order to continue to care for patients, especially urgent cases.

The next stages of reopening, hopefully, will focus on rebuilding our elevators, diagnostic services, critical care areas, oncology departments and operating theatres in order to help care for critical and chronic patients in addition to bringing back our valuable healthcare workforce as soon as possible.

Our institution strongly believes, that when there is a will, there is a way. We will rebuild with all the help we can get, the hope stemming from our faith in a better country and with God’s will, to continue to serve our patients and our community.

We are grateful to all those who wish to help this beloved institution get back on its feet.  Our will to live will surely prevail. The Lebanese Hospital Geitaoui-UMC will rise again.

For those who wish to donate, the following platforms are available:

GoFundMe fundraiser:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-a-beirut-hospital-recover-from-the-explosion

Bank transfers:

International donations

Beneficiary name: Congregations des Soeurs de la Sainte Famille-Hopital Libanais Geitawi

Bank Name: Credit Bank SAL

Account Number: 125201

Swift: CBCBLBBE

IBAN: LB66 0103 0001 1012 9101 2520 1001

 

Correspondant Bank: JP Morgan Chase Bank,N.A (New York)

BIC: CHASUS33XXX

CreditBank account with JP Morgan: 400212048

 

Local donations:

Beneficiary name: Congregations des Soeurs de la Sainte Famille-Hopital Libanais Geitawi

Bank Name: Credit Bank SAL

Account Number: 125201

SWIFT: CBCBLBBE

IBAN: LB84 0103 0001 1011 3001 2520 1000

 

Online secure payment :

Link for Online Secure Payment

 

For any technical issues please contact Mr. Michel Hajal on +961 3 507 168

For any further inquiries please do not hesitate to contact us at: donation@hopital-libanais.com or call +961 1 590000 ext 8867/8859/8869 or +96171876629

 
 
Alimenté et CONÇU PAR Asmar Pro