Mar 03 2010
MEDICAL MISSION RETURNS FROM HAITI – OVER 900 PATIENTS SEEN
Posted in: Updates
WEST HARTFORD, CT, March 2, 2010 — A Medical Aid to Haiti (MATH) sponsored team returned home last night after a successful medical mission to Haiti. During a normal (i.e. pre-earthquake) mission to Haiti – while conducting five one-day medical clinics at various sites – our team would see approximately 500 patients. Last week’s team treated more than 900 patients, including 250 on one day alone! The most common ailments treated were Malaria, Typhoid, hypertension and diabetes as well as follow-up care for wounds and orthopedic problems caused by the earthquake. The clinics also saw an unusually high number of sick children suffering from malnutrition, fevers, parasites and scalp and skin infections. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was apparent across a broad spectrum of earthquake survivors. We spent the week working alongside a team of Haitian healthcare professionals who will eventually staff the MATH Mobile Medical Clinic. This mobile clinic will operate weekly to provide a desperately needed continuum of care and fulfill the mission of MATH by “helping Haitians heal Haitians”.
The trip began on Friday, February 19th with a flight into Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. On February 20, we flew to Port-au-Prince on a United Nations humanitarian charter flight. Our bags – 20 heavy suitcases filled with medication and supplies – were transported ahead of us by helicopter. Flying into Port-au-Prince, the physical damage was not immediately apparent but the international relief presence was both astounding and foreboding. Over the next day and a half we unpacked gear, had various meetings, and prepared for the week ahead. Our first clinic was held on Monday, 2/22 in Sarthe, a Port-au-Prince slum adjacent to the airport. There was a large crowd waiting for us when we arrived and it was clear that we would not be able to see everyone there in one day. Thus, we made the decision to treat as many as possible and return for an additional clinic later in the week. This scenario was repeated the next day in Cabaret, a poor village approximately 30 miles northwest of Port-au-Prince. Many earthquake refugees have dispersed from Port-au-Prince and are populating rural areas. This was the case in Cabaret and we decided to return later in the week. When we returned to Cabaret on Friday, NBC News correspondent Ian Williams, along with a film crew, spent a few hours filming and interviewing both our team members as well as our Haitian patients. The crew seemed genuinely surprised by the size of the crowd as well as our ability to provide effective treatment. The segment is scheduled to run on NBC News sometime this week.
Many Haitians, in and around Port-au-Prince, are living outdoors in tents or some other form of makeshift shelter. They do so because their homes were either destroyed, are structurally unsafe, or because they fear being indoors should another earthquake occur. Our team gained firsthand experience of this fear as we were awakened during our first two nights in Haiti by earthquakes or aftershocks. As each occurred, we immediately ran out of the building, but the decision to go back indoors was difficult. We were frightened and unnerved as our view of shelter was altered by what we had experienced. We were staying in the temporary Mission House of Haitian Ministries (of Norwich, CT) because their permanent residence in Haiti was completely destroyed by the earthquake. It took several days in Haiti for the scope and magnitude of the disaster to become truly evident. As our medical team traveled from site to site, the grim reality set-in that nearly 250,000 people have perished. We saw hundreds of buildings flattened to the ground that still contain the remains of victims. Over one million Haitian earthquake survivors are living in squalid tent cities which are breeding grounds for disease. The situation will only become more dismal as the rainy season begins in a few weeks. Haiti needs our continued help.
For the remainder of 2010, MATH will be sending medical teams to Haiti in April, May, June, July, September and October. We anticipate having our Haitian-staffed mobile clinic operating on a regular basis within a few months. We are seeking donations to fund our medical missions, buy a mobile clinic vehicle, procure medication and supplies, and pay the Haitian staff of the mobile clinic.
MATH is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, charitable organization. For more information visit: www.medicalaidtohaiti.org. Tax-deductible contributions can be mailed to: Medical Aid to Haiti, Inc., 80 South Main St., West Hartford, CT 06107.