Japan: New Dental Clinic Opened in Ogatsu Town, Ishinomaki City

Medical Facilities in Ogatsu Town were Destroyed by the March 2011 Tsunami

90% of all the houses in Ogatsu Town, part of Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, were damaged by the March 2011 tsunami. In addition, all necessary facilities for daily life, such as fire departments, post offices, schools, gas stations, and shops were lost in the disaster. Medical facilities such as general hospitals and dental clinics were completely destroyed.
When a mobile dental clinic conducted by a university hospital concluded operations last September, local residents had to take bus that runs only a few times a day to dental clinics in the center of Ishinomaki City, an hour away. The situation imposed a heavy burden on the elderly, who often have artificial teeth and need more dental care.

May 8th, 2012 – Ishinomaki City Ogatsu Hospital used to have surgical, internal medicine and dental departments before the earthquake. The city has decided to close the hospital, but the building remains.
Dentists Back In Town

In response to a request from Ishinomaki City, AAR Japan built a temporary prefabricated dental clinic in the Ogatsu area. Mr. Soichiro KAWASE, a dentist who started providing medical support in the affected areas immediately after the earthquake, has moved to Miyagi Prefecture with his family to take charge of the clinic.
The opening ceremony was held on June 4th, with the mayor of Ishinomaki City in attendance. At the ceremony, Mr. Kawase expressed his determination, saying, “There are many people who have not received or have suspended proper treatment. I would like to make this a place where people can come to receive treatment at ease.” Since the clinic’s opening, many patients, including those living outside of town, have been coming every day.

June 4th, 2012 – Mr. Soichiro KAWASE has taken charge of the temporary dental clinic.

June 4th, 2012 – At the clinic’s opening ceremony, Sayako NOGIWA (right), head of AAR Japan’s Tohoku Office, hands a letter of assignment to the mayor of Ishinomaki City.

July 6th, 2012 – “Although my filling had fallen out, I hadn’t received any treatment. I started coming to the clinic as soon as it opened.” Mr. Takahashi (left, 76), who lives in Ogatsu Town’s Ara district, with Makoto EBINA, staff at AAR Japan’s Sendai Office.

A Safe Place for the Elderly to Live in Peace

The population of the town decreased from 4,300 to approximately 1,300 after the earthquake. With most facilities lost and no suitable space for temporary housing, 3/4 of the population evacuated outside the town. There is a plan to move the town to higher ground, but it remains unclear whether residents will come back to an area that was already suffering from an aging and declining population even before the earthquake.
As of July 2012, AAR has carried out repairs and reconstruction assistance at 57 facilities for the elderly and persons with disabilities across Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima Prefectures. This clinic has a barrier-free design, including a wide bathroom and handrails in the halls, so people with physical disabilities can visit the clinic easily. We have also been providing home-based medical treatment for people who cannot come to the clinic. We hope that our support will contribute to building a community where the elderly can continue to live in peace.

June 4th, 2012 – AAR Japan constructed a ramp (right) to enable wheelchair users to enter the treatment room directly.

*This project was made possible thanks to a grant provided by AmeriCares, in addition to generous individual donations.

AAR Japan Sendai Office: Makoto EBINA
Working at the Sendai Office since June, 2011. After working at an IT company for 5 years, joined volunteer efforts in the Tohoku area following the Great East Japan Earthquake, then joined AAR Japan. (Born in Aomori Prefecture)