German government loans Mississippi portable hospital

While massive cargo planes carrying supplies for hurricane victims have become a common sight in Mississippi, relief workers on Sunday got a special delivery, a 15-ton portable hospital on loan from the German government.

The mobile hospital will be set up in Scott County, where miles of country roads separate storm-ravaged poultry and timber farms from the nearest town. The farmers there, and the large immigrant population that works in their chicken houses, have struggled for two weeks without power and other necessities. Rosemary Ramirez Barbour, head of the Mississippi Immigration Development Community, said the TransHospital, as it is known, will be invaluable to the struggling residents of Scott County.

She said extensive damage and hundreds of desperate immigrants in the county led Mississippi Department of Health officials to chose the Forest Coliseum as the site for the unit. "There's a large community of immigrants down there ... from South America and Mexico,'' she said.

"We're there to assist them. They still don't have electricity so there's a very big need.'' Barbour said she expected the hospital to also treat any refugees from coastal areas who may have been displaced by the storm.

Scott Tumpak, a spokesman for EADS North America Corp., which makes the mobile hospital units, said a diesel generator and a water system make the unit self-sustaining.