Medical professionals have quietly come together to establish a ‘Hidden Clinic’ and other networks to secretly treat many young injured protesters who could face detention if they go to government hospitals.
The Hidden Clinic has clandestinely treated 300 to 400 protesters with different injuries, ranging from broken and dislocated bones, gaping wounds, and exposure to tear gas so prolonged that these youngsters are coughing up blood.
An Associated Press reporter speaks to one of the ‘Hidden’ medical assistants, identified only as Ms. Wong.
[Ms. Wong, Hidden Clinic Helper]: "I realized the injuries are getting more severe and initially it was only tear gas, like skin irritation or eye problems, so we can help them to solve onsite. However, there are more wounds or fractures that people can't solve, like we can stabilize them onsite however they still require management subsequently."
The severities of the injuries have also worsened since last week, says Wong.
[Ms. Wong, Hidden Clinic Helper]: "After the 1st of October, we have more serious injury including some facial bone fracture after being push to the ground, some fracture of the hand, a patient's neck got shot like with a bullet or some really big wounds that require urgent treatment."
Many injured activists try to delay medical treatment at government hospitals.
[Ms. Wong, Hidden Clinic Helper]: "Patient would rather endure the pain and not to get arrest because a lot of people already get arrest in the hospital."
The full capacity of the clandestine clinics to treat protesters is unknown. Both the injured and the volunteer medics want to protect themselves in the atmosphere of deep distrust.
Wong tells AP that her supervisor at a major public hospital does not know of her work at the Hidden Clinic. After her normal job, Wong works at night in the Hidden Clinic, assessing a steady influx of injured protesters, giving quick, initial diagnoses, and offering medical advice.
Wong says she reaches out to a network of behind-the-scenes doctors to arrange further consultations and treatment and also helps with paying the medical expenses.