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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

☢ Fukushima Holding Back Hospital Funds - Doctors Angry Over Media Blackout About High-Level Radiation Exposure Finds ☢

The municipal hospital at Minami-Soma, about 30 km from the nuclear plant, measured 100,000 counts per minute on clothing from some patients.

Tomoyoshi Oikawa, a doctor at the hospital, has complained that even though he has time and again talked about the exposure of patients to high-level radiation, most media has not reported his findings.

Medical checks by the Minami-Soma Municipal Mospital using Whole Body Counters (WBCs) show the seriousness of radiation exposure. Of the 527 children checked in and after September, 268, or 51 percent, were found to have suffered from internal exposure to cesium-137. One doctor at the hospital said some of the children had been eating wild plants picked in the mountains. Evidence of high-level exposure to gamma rays was detected in the clothes of some children, indicating, he said, that their parents were paying little attention to the risks of radiation exposure.

The municipal hospital is capable of examining and treating only 110 children per day due to the small number of WBC machine's available. Efforts by the hospital staff to purchase more equipment has been hindered by an internal power struggle within the municipal government. Minami-Soma Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai's call for buying additional machines has met opposition from city office workers who harbor antipathy toward the mayor.

The Fukushima prefectural government is not helping the hospital, either. Even though a large budget has been allocated by the central government to the prefecture to cope with radiation issues, no funds have gone to the Minami-Soma Municipal Hospital for purchasing the WBC devices. This has forced the municipal government to bear the entire cost of examining the children exposed to cesium-137. As it examines more children, it incurs greater costs.

Not only citizens of Minami-Soma but also those from other municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture have expressed a desire to be examined by the WBC machines. In reality, though, only a small number of them have had the chance.

As the prefectural government continues to drag its feet, several municipalities like Fukushima City, Iwaki City and Hirata Village, as well as some private medical institutions, have decided that they can no longer wait and are working to purchase the devices on their own.

The Story from Japan Times, translation of an article from the February issue of Sentaku, a monthly magazine covering Japanese political, social and economic scenes.

Back in June 2011 we could read the following about the hospital situation in the area.

Minami-Soma has four general hospitals, with a total of 792 beds, within the designated zones.

Under the restrictions, two of them are allowed to have up to five inpatients at a time, subject to additional conditions, and the other two are not allowed to accept inpatients.

Minami-Soma Municipal General Hospital, located in the city's Haramachi district, has 230 beds and is the only one of the four institutions that provides services during the daytime, at night and on holidays.

In May, a total of 44 people with acute health problems were taken to the municipal hospital.

After negotiations with the prefectural government, the municipal hospital was allowed to accommodate up to five inpatients with brain conditions at any one time.

Ten inpatients being treated for other ailments had to be transferred to other hospitals outside the designated zones.

A man who was taken to the hospital one night in May suffering intestinal obstruction was given treatment, but then transferred to a hospital outside the designated zones the next morning.

According to the Soma district fire department headquarters, 110 patients with acute conditions received emergency care in the city's designated zones in May, up from 85 in April.

The restrictions have angered many hospital operators in Minami-Soma.

"It's normal that a certain number of people will suffer from sudden illnesses. Imposing a limit on patient admissions runs counter to reality," Yukio Kanazawa, 57, director of the municipal hospital, said.

Shortly after the start of the nuclear crisis on March 11, the government advised all residents in Minami-Soma to stay inside their homes, and the city's population subsequently fell from 70,000 to about 10,000. Later, it rebounded to about half its pre-earthquake level at one time.

After the "stay-indoors" designation was made, all inpatients at the four general hospitals were evacuated to other locations. However, many residents who stayed in the city have required emergency hospitalization.

Omachi Hospital in the city, which has 188 beds, was in early April given permission by the prefectural government to use five beds for emergency inpatient care, with individual patients allowed to be hospitalized for up to 72 hours.

But at one point since then, Omachi Hospital had more than 20 inpatients. As of Monday, there were 16 inpatients at the hospital.

"We've had to discharge inpatients after quickly treating them, even though they had not yet completed their recovery. Even now, it's impossible to limit the number of our inpatients to five or less," said Yoshimitsu Inomata, 66, director of the hospital.

"If we stuck to that rule, lives that could be saved would be lost," he said.

About 200 staff, including 12 doctors, were working at Omachi Hospital before the March 11 earthquake. Due to the financial impact of the government-set limit on inpatient numbers, the hospital has had to reduce its staff to about 70, with nine doctors.

Many of the hospital's employees have had to quit or take temporary leave because of the facility's financial difficulties. The hospital depends on services related to in-hospital treatment for about 70 percent of its income.

Doctors at Omachi Hospital have had to take a 70 percent pay cut since May. Other staff have taken pay cuts of 30 percent to 70 percent. The hospital said if the current inpatient restrictions remain in place, it will have to continue cutting pay packets.

"We're still here working, hoping to continue providing medical services to the community. But the lives of our staff members are in danger of falling apart," said Tamayo Fujiwara, director of the hospital's nursing services department.

Many of the hospital's nurses who were forced to take temporary leave told Inomata they had decided to look for work at other medical institutions.

"It'll be difficult to find new staff to replace the staff who leave. I want the restrictions lifted as soon as possible," Inomata said.

The other two general hospitals, Onoda Hospital and Watanabe Hospital, are not permitted to accept any inpatients under the restrictions.

On June 9, the four general hospitals urged the prefectural government to relax the restrictions, saying they were now capable of handling more inpatients because some staff who temporarily evacuated had returned to work.

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Geiger Counters - Radiation Detection Meters - Handheld Radiation Detector

When it comes to radiation detection meters you really have a wide field of gadgets to choose from, however radiation detectors are the most common to use. First of all if you need to know what type of radiation you are looking for. There are Alpha, Beta and Gamma radiation detectors. And also there is neutron emission of nuclear radiation. And all these different types of emissions have radiation detectors for a specific type of radiation that you can buy radiation detector for. Some also measure both Alpha and Beta. Others detect Alpha, Beta and Gamma. While others let you measure Beta and Gamma radiation.

What most people have use for though are Dosimeters you can buy a handheld radiation detector pretty cheap that are good addition to a survival kit. There are different kinds that you can use that will detect radiation. There are radiation badges that will tell you when radiation become high. Workers at nuclear power plants use these to inform them of how much radiation they have been exposed to. Now also children in the Fukushima prefecture have each been given a radiation badge so they know if they are exposed to radiation. Some come in the shape of a pen that you can carry in your pocket while other are made more compact so that you can attach them to your keychain. And then you have what is called a personal radiation monitor. These are also called Dosimeters and also normally called Geiger counters. Although not all use the Geiger-Muller Tube for the radiation detection some use a semiconductor instead. These and mostly the older geiger counters seen are pretty big to carry around, so they might not be best suited for a survival situation where you only need to carry the most important things. However if you have land and want to check radiation around the property and drinking water then these are the geiger counters to get because they are very well built units.

These are the once that you normally see people use. They have different units of radiation detection, because when it comes to radiation there are many standards used. some give the measurements in Rads, while other use Sieverts. Some have the maximum radiation value for the measured radioactivity quite low but they will still give you an idea of the amount of radiation in the area. With the units ranging from between background radiation 0.001 mSv/hr all the way up to 10 Sv/h. Normally a dosimeter will measure radiation in micro siverts per hour. If you were to walk into one of the reactor units at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant you probably would get an error reading from your dosimeter because the radiation levels are so high there.

Note that some places outside the exclusion zone in Fukushima that are too radioactive for people to live in have areas where the radiation levels are above 30 Sv/h. So if you are in a area that have high radiation the radiation detectors would also there go off the scale. However Geiger counters or radiation detectors are still favored as general purpose alpha/beta/gamma portable radiation detectors and radiation detection equipment, due to their low cost and robustness. Most come with an LCD Display that show you the radioactivity in the area. Nowdays you will even get alarm sound and the possibility to connect the device to a computer. Either with a Infrared, Bluetooth or USB connection.

So if you look at the radiation detectors for sale that have this, then these radiation detection meters will allow you to make maps of contaminated areas that show where the radiation is high and low. This also will help you to see which areas are becoming more contaminated over time. With several nuclear reactors in the US and around the world located near fault zones that makes it a danger if a big earthquake would hit the area there is always a good choice to have a radiation dosimeter avaliable. I'm sure many in Fukushima would have been grateful to have dosimeters avaliable at the time of the disaster and I am sure you to would be grateful to have a geiger counter handy when you need one.