By Jennifer Browning
Until a dispute is settled over who will pay for care, medical evacuations of critically injured Haitian earthquake victims have halted.
After the earthquake military flights carried patients with spinal cord injuries, burns and other serious wounds, but as of Wednesday, those flights ended after Florida’s Gov. Charlie Crist formally asked the federal government to assist with some of the cost of the care.
Project Medishare’s Co-Founder Dr. Barth Green told reporters today that the suspension could be catastrophic for patients. Dr. Green returned to the Project Medishare/UM Global Institute Hospital today where there are 10 patients on the critical care list that needs to be evacuated to the U.S. for life-saving care.
Among those joining Dr. Green today were former Miami Heat Alonzo Mourning, General Wesley Clark, members of InnoVida, USAID representatives, and an engineer.
Mourning and Dr. Green gave a tour of the hospital, and Mourning checked up on a few patients he had seen from his last trip over a week ago. After touring the hospital, the group drove through the city of Port-au-Prince to survey the damage left behind after the 7.0 earthquake over two weeks ago.
In the afternoon, President René Preval and his wife Haitian First Lady Elisabeth Debrosse Delatour arrived to meet with the group. President Preval and Dr. Green spoke at a press conference and addressed questions from the media regarding the estimated 1 million homeless in Haiti. USAID representatives said they are planning to select a location and bring in tents for temporary housing to get those who are homeless through the upcoming rainy season.
Preval praised Project Medishare/UM Global Institute for their efforts here and in the Central Plateau where many earthquake victims have fled. He addressed the fact that now those rural areas are more populated, there are more people looking for work. Preval said he wants to work toward promoting agriculture in Haiti, so that those farmers in the rural areas can sell their crops and become entrepreneurs, selling their crops in the markets and stimulating the economy.
Read more about the halt in airlifts for Haitian earthquake victims in the New York Times here.