MINAMISOMA, FUKUSHIMA PREF. – A municipal hospital reopened in this Fukushima Prefecture city Wednesday, three years after it closed due to the nuclear crisis at Tepco’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant.
The Odaka hospital in Minamisoma is the first permanent medical institution that has reopened in any of the areas near the crippled power plant where the evacuation advisory has yet to be lifted.
There are currently three types of evacuation areas, depending on the degree of radiation an area received after the triple reactor meltdown in March 2011. Citizens are banned from staying at their homes overnight inside these areas.
The Minamisoma government aims to lift the evacuation advisory for much of the city by April 2016. Minamisoma officials hope that reopening the hospital will help accelerate preparations for the eventual return of local residents.
Tomoyoshi Matsumoto, 66, and his wife came to see a doctor shortly after the hospital opened at 8 a.m.
“We live nearby and I feel comfortable because I know some doctors here,” Matsumoto said.
The couple live in Minamisoma, in a provisional home near Odaka. Before the hospital reopened they had to travel two hours to a different institution.
The Odaka hospital will be open three days a week, with four doctors working on shifts. It accepts outpatients with relatively mild symptoms.
Local residents on temporary visits to their homes and decontamination workers are expected to be among the hospital’s patients.
The main building remains unusable due to damage from the March 11, 2011, earthquake, so the hospital reopened in a one-story building that was previously used as a rehabilitation center.
Some businesses, including factories and service stations, have also reopened in the district.
Elsewhere in the prefecture’s evacuation areas, a provisional clinic has opened in the town of Namie, and a second one is expected to be set up in the town of Naraha soon.