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Dorothy Lucey interviewing Chris Skopec, International Medical Corps’ Senior Director of Emergency Preparedness and Response.

“I’ve been on the business end of an AK[47] more times than I care to remember,” admitted Chris Skopec.

As Senior Director of International Medical Corps’ Emergency Response and Preparedness department, he has been on the ground interacting directly with people when they are most in need: at moments of extreme chaos such as displacement due to warfare or natural disaster and disease like the recent Ebola emergency in Liberia and West Africa. During a live Q&A with former “Good Day LA” anchor Dorothy Lucey at International Medical Corps’ annual West Los Angeles Women to Women Luncheon, Skopec discussed the organization’s past and present efforts in Syria, Yemen, Nepal and beyond. Bringing together some 200 supporters of the organization’s current relief work in more than 35 countries worldwide, the luncheon on May 14, 2015, which was held at the Holmby Hills home of Linda Cappello, advocated for medical support of women and children around the world.

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Rene Jones, Teri Hatcher and Regina Miller supporting the 2015 International Medical Corps Women to Women Luncheon.

CEO and President Nancy Aossey took time to address how women and children are uniquely effected by war and health crises. During any humanitarian crisis, there are always women needing prenatal or maternal care. Rape, especially when used as a war strategy, is an additional factor International Medical Corps takes into account. In addition to needing the same medical attention that any human being can need in a war-torn area like sanitation, access to clean water and sufficient food supplies, many women also need mental health programs to help them cope with the trauma of rape.

Mothers and children can also be prone to passing disease to one another simply through affection toward each another. She shared the story of a mother in Liberia who unwittingly passed Ebola to her daughter, “when someone you love isn’t feeling well, what do you want to do? You want to hug them.” Aossey went on to share that the little girl rebounded and she applauded the dedicated medical workers that helped Liberia reach zero new Ebola transmissions.

International Medical Corps began its work in 1984 when Dr. Robert Simon founded the organization in response to the need for medical services and training inside war-torn Afghanistan. Worldwide, the organization works simultaneously with its US-based and British affiliates to provide emergency services often within hours of the need arising. To date, it has delivered more than $2 billion in humanitarian assistance, health services and medical training in 70 countries. They assist those in urgent need anywhere at any time regardless of the circumstances.

The work is often dangerous with volunteer medical experts risking their lives either due to proximity of violent conflict, poor environmental conditions due to natural disaster or the possible spread of contagious disease and pandemics. In areas that don’t have emergency need, it works to create sustainable solutions that will ultimately help areas have the training and resources needed to handle ongoing care, gain self-reliance and stability.

As Nepal struggles with a severe health crisis after two recent devastating earthquakes, the death toll as well as the survivor count continue to rise. International Medical Corps has been in Nepal since April 25, the date of the first quake, providing emergency services, medicines and supplies. International Medical Corps has also implemented mental health programs for Nepalese survivors dealing with the stress of suddenly losing their homes and loved ones.

“The average refugee is displaced from ten to fifteen years,” Skopec shared as he detailed some of the long-term needs of displaced people. “People outside of the situation rarely realize how long a human being can be disrupted by war or environmental causes. It’s often not a short term situation. People need sustainable solutions.”

“Governments cannot do what International Medical Corps does,” proclaimed Dr. Jerrold D. Green, one of the organization’s Global Brand Ambassadors. He addressed the crowd to encourage donations from supporters. Dr. Green went on to emphasize that most governments either cannot or will not set up the proper infrastructure to handle possible disasters as they prefer to only expand funds for immediate needs and not hypothetical scenarios. “International Medical Corps responds immediately to medical needs all over the world.”

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The Women to Women Luncheon committee with event host Linda Cappello and International Medical Corps President and CEO Nancy Aossey.

International Medical Corps Women’s Luncheon Committee: Bonnie Abaunza, Kimberlea Archer, Sandy Barger, Tanya Brammer, Pam Brendlinger, Linda Cappello, Amy Chidiac, Kathleen D’Addario, Jennifer Hollingsworth, Loren Levine, Ellen Lipson, Alinne Majarian, Erica McLoughlin, Regina Miller, Pamela Mohn and Julie Waxman

Event Hashtags: #IMCW2W