Archive for May, 2010

By Jennifer Browning

At the end of April, the University of Miami Piano Preparatory Program performed to raise money for earthquake relief efforts. The event featured young musicians from the preparatory program who performed jazz, pop and Latin music at Crazy Pianos, one of South Florida’s premier piano restaurant and lounge.

The students raised $550 during the event. The proceeds will go to benefit the field hospital being operated by Project Medishare and the University of Miami Global Institute’s field hospital in Haiti.

Thank you UM Piano Preparatory students in helping us continue our relief efforts in Haiti!


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A volunteer Certified Prothestist Orthotist (CPO) begins fitting an amputee patient. CPO's come to work in the Project Medishare hospital and fit an average of 10 patients each week. Photo by Laurene Leger.

By Jennifer Browning

With Project Medishare’s Amputee Rehabilitation Program well underway, approximately 10 patients each week are fitted with a life-saving prosthetic limb. Once the patients are fitted, they are placed in a physical therapy program to help them learn how to use the new limb.

When Certified Prothestists Orthotists (CPO) fit Antoinette Macius, it was the first time she had seen this “fake leg” doctors had been telling her about. While she is still going through physical therapy to help her walk more securely, she is happy about getting fitted with her new prosthetic.

“I am happy to have my leg back again, and be able to walk with two legs,” she said. “I will be happy when I can feel that my life is getting back to normal. Once I get used to the leg, I will be able to walk my kids to school again, and be able to carry water to our house.”

Antoinette said her physical therapy involves a series of exercises, which involves a lot of stretching.

“The therapy is going well,,” she said. “I am starting to feel more and more stable and secure with [my new leg] now.”

Louna Degazon walks on her new prosthetic limb after being fitted by certified prosthetist orthotists. Photo by Laurene Leger.

Louna Degazon, who was a high school student before the earthquake hit, is also happy to be able to walk again.

“Before they fit me with the new leg, I always felt as if I was going to fall on the floor if I stood up. Now that I am learning to walk again,” Louna said, “I hope I will be able to go back to school so I can finish high school.”

Many patients, like Louna, say that even though they are happy to walk again, they still worry about the stigma that comes with being an amputee.

“I was stressed at the beginning, I know that the new leg will never be able to replace the old one, but I am getting used to my new leg now,” she said. “I am still afraid what people will say or think when they see my new leg, but with time I hope that I will get use to it all.”

To help patients with the stress, Project Medishare has hired Wilford Messine, who was one of the first patients to be fitted with his new leg. Within hours of being fitted, Messine began testing out his new leg playing soccer. He is now working with his fellow Haitians to overcome the physical and cultural obstacles of being an amputee.

Now four months after the devastating earthquake, amputee patients are finding hope. Project Medishare is keeping our promise to continue providing much needed medical care to the Haitian people drastically affected by the January earthquake. Such efforts are still in need of funding so that we can continue to help people like Antoinette and Louna.

Tomorrow is the Celebrity Amputee Gold Classic, where half of the proceeds will go to benefit Project Medishare’s Haitian Amputee Rehabilitation Program. For more information about the tournament click here.

If you would like to personally help Project Medishare continue our efforts in Haiti, click here to make a tax-deductible donation.

*Laurene Leger contributed to this story.

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By Jennifer Browning

This weekend there are two great events Project Medishare supporters can choose to attend in order to help us continue our earthquake relief efforts.

5th Annual Celebrity Amputee Golf Classic, May 20-21

This two-day event begins Thursday, May 20th at the Shake-A-Leg Miami offices at 7 p.m. for a Pairings Party and charity auction.  On Friday, May 21st, golfers enjoy a continental breakfast at 8 a.m. before hitting the links at Crandon Park Golf Club in Key Biscayne.  Golfers finish off the day with lunch and award presentations.

This year’s event will split revenue equally between Project Medishare for Haiti, Inc. and Shake-a-Leg Miami.  Funding received by Project Medishare will go toward the Haitian Amputee Rehabilitation Program, which is treating over 1700 people in Haiti who lost a limb due to the devastating earthquake in January this year. Shake-A-Leg Miami has developed a vocational program for injured service members coming back from Iraq or Afghanistan with physical, developmental, and economic challenges. The program works toward liberating them from a realm of imagination into the realm of experience by means of innovative sailing and water sports education and recreational programming.

So far the following celebrities have confirmed to play in the event: Andre Berto, NABF Welterweight Champion; Kordell Steward, NFL; Pat Jablonski, NHL; Brian Bradley, NHL; Dennis Rasmussen, MLB; Robert Smith, NFL: Malik Yoba, Actor; Scott McGarrahan, NFL; Bobby Taylor, NHL: Fred McGriff, MLB: Darren Puppa, NHL: Jason Romano, MLB: Ken Amato, NFL: Shawn Wooden, NFL: Edson Berto, MMA:

Sponsorships are available from $25,000 to $500
$250 per golfer
$150 per additional guest at VIP Pairings Party

David Bowen:
Phone: (954) 864-2478
E-mail: dbowen@ahcs.com

Tod Roy:
Email: tod@ftg-ci.com

Golfers can register for this event online at Celebrity Amputee Golf website here.

Rock for Haiti, Saturday, May 22

7-9 p.m. Byron Carlyle Theater, 500 71st Street, Miami Beach, FL 33141

Please join us for a special night of music and entertainment, Rock for Haiti, to raise money to outfit two surplus emergency medical vehicles the Miami Beach Mayor and Commission is donating to a Port-au-Prince Hospital through Project Medishare.

Conceptualized by Miami Beach Commissioner Ed Tobin, the evening will include Dungeon Records Recording artist Jetstream, Jan Sebon and Bemol Telfort as well representatives from Project Medishare talking about our continued work on the ground in Haiti.

Please join us for this wonderful evening. Tickets are available at www.ticketmaster.com. General Admission $10; VIP Reception $100.

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By Jennifer Browning

Three weeks after the earthquake three sisters, Darline and Martine Pierre and Deneiz Joseph, had lost everything.

Darline and Martine sit outside their stepfather's house in Casse with their children Francis Emmanuel and Immacula. They fled to the Central Plateau to seek shelter with their stepfather three weeks after the earthquake. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

Darline and Martine sit outside their stepfather's house in Casse with their children Francis Emmanuel and Immacula. They fled to the Central Plateau to seek shelter with their stepfather three weeks after the earthquake. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

All that existed of their home was a pile of rubble in downtown Port-au-Prince, their mother had died after medical complications from a crush injury at the General Hospital, and Darline’s beauty salon where she worked was demolished. Life as they had known it had drastically changed.

Darline and Martine packed up their two kids and their younger sister and headed to Haiti’s Central Plateau. The girls knew their stepfather, Renaud, had a home in the town of Casse. Darline said that while they were given the option to stay and live in a tent city, for her that wasn’t an option.

“Often the ground still shook,” she said, “and you could still smell death. We didn’t feel safe living in tents with our children and our younger sister.”

Although he lived in a one-room house, Renaud, took in the three girls and their two children. Now six lived in a space where only one lived previously before.

“I was surprised to see them,” he said. “I have very little, but happy they had come here.”

These sisters aren’t alone in their retreat from the rubble of Port-au-Prince. In February, the United Nations reported that an estimated 500,000 fled Port-au-Prince to reside in rural Haiti with friends and family. Project Medishare’ communities in the Central Plateau, Haiti’s poorest region, has grown tremendously.

This mass exodus of earthquake survivors has spiked Thomonde and Casse’s population by 29 percent, placing a burden on Project Medishare’s already stressed Community Health Program. Medishare’s Integerated Community Development program is also seeing strain, as Marmont’s population increased by 19 percent. Both programs currently rely on individual private donations.

While Project Medishare’s Community Health Program has seen many successes, such as almost a 30 percent decreased mortality rate among the population since 2003, there is still much work to be done. The increased displaced population means that poverty and desperation increases as well.

Word spread quickly about Renaud’s family arriving, and neighbors knew the family had little to nothing. It was true, there was basically nothing for the family to eat. Martine said while she was hungry, she still was glad they had come to Casse. Here it was quiet. Here it was safe.

A few hours passed, and then neighbors showed up at the family’s house bringing whatever food they had.

“We were so surprised,” Martine said. “We didn’t know anyone in Casse, but here they were….friends of our stepfather. We live by the solidarity of the people in this community, otherwise we have nothing.”

Reunited by an earthquake. Darline, Martine and their younger sister Deneiz poses with their stepfather who is providing them shelter. An estimated 500,000 fled Port-au-Prince to reside in rural Haiti with friends and family. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

The community didn’t stop there. For now, Darlene and Martine’s children and their sister, Deneiz, attend school for free. When the family arrived in Casse in February, schools in Port-au-Prince were still closed. School now was a luxury. However the family knows that the generosity won’t last long.

“It is so nice, but my biggest fear is that the school will eventually stop paying for them,” Martine said. “I know it is coming.”

Renaud stands by and shakes his head in agreement.

While the Darlene and Martine both can’t find jobs in rural Haiti, they say for now, they prefer to stay here in Casse.

Deneiz, the youngest sister, said she doesn’t want to return to Port-au-Prince because she still has nightmares about the earthquake.

“Even up here, in this house, I still imagine the ground is shaking,” Deneiz said. “And it makes me remember all that we lost…..our mother….our home.”

Currently, private donations fund the Community Health Program that serves not only the areas permanent residents, but also earthquake victims like Darline, Martine, and Deneiz.

Funding also provides jobs to 95 Haitian doctors, nurses, health agents, mid wives, lab and pharmacy technicians, as well as a small administrative staff.

If you would like to help displaced families, like Darline, Martine and Deneiz, as well as the existing population Project Medishare serves through our Community Health Program please click here.

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By PJ Pitts

Germain, one of the Haitian night nurses, is one of the hardest working people here. Two nights ago I was staffing overnight and noticed her limping. As the night wore on, her limp was getting worse, but she never complained. With one of the translators, I asked her to sit so I could see her leg.

Her left calf was noticeably larger and warmer than the right one, and painful (especially when Anne, one of the nurses, tried flexing her foot). I remembered Homan’s sign from school – not good that she had the signs and symptoms of a DVT. I gave her an aspirin, and went to look for the provider on call. It was about 2 a.m., and as luck would have it, the on-call doc had already been woken up for a transfer call. He examined her leg – luckily it was a strained and swollen muscle, not a DVT. We started her on 600mgs of ibuprofen three times a day, and decided she should try to stay off of it for the night.

She has such an amazing work ethic, and like many of the workers, is fearful of loosing her job. I insisted she sit, and found her some food to eat with the ibuprofen (as I suspect the meal we feed her may be her main source of food for the day).  The night crew here is amazing, and everyone helped out to make sure all the patients were covered while she elevated and rested her leg.

In the morning, she handed me a piece of paper —- a hand written thank you note in English (clearly something that took her a while to write). I was so touched, I started to tear up, and was able to use my creole “word of the day” – meli-te (spelled phonetically, not correctly) meaning “you’re welcome”.

Back when I was in pharmacy school (and had received a thank you letter from a patient), I had a professor tell me that pharmacists almost never get thanked for what they do. Here I am thanked multiple times a day – it makes me feel blessed to be here, and I am grateful for the opportunity to make such a difference for these people.

In fact, as I’m typing this (in 4-point font on my blackberry), Fedneyer, the Haitian x-ray tech, just came up and told me “I feel better when you are here.”

I smiled, and told him I feel better when I’m here too.

***PJ Pitts is a pharmacist in Oregon and is volunteering for her second deployment at Project Medishare’s field hospital. She is sending her blog posts in via her Blackberry. Click here to see her other contributions to the Project Medishare Blog.

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By Jennifer Browning

Headlines, long before the earthquake, told stories of Haiti’s poverty, riots, and lack of healthcare, however many never knew about the talent and art within this tiny Caribbean nation.

The January earthquake that destroyed the lives and homes of many, also damaged and destroyed cultural icons and valuable artwork in its wake.

The Smithsonian Institution has organized a rescue effort for art works damaged during the earthquake. The Smithsonian plans to open a center in Port-au-Prince in June where American conservators will work with Haitian staff members to repair torn paintings, shattered sculptures and other works salvaged from the rubble of museums and churches.

Click here to see the New York Times slideshow Art in the Rubble.

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By Jennifer Browning

Children’s Hospital Boston sent a group of 26 clinicians to volunteer at Project Medishare’s field hospital in Haiti between April 10 to 18. THRIVE: Children’s Hospital Boston’s health and science blog features the refelctions of several  volunteers who staffed Emergency Department reflect on their experience.

You can read about these volunteers experiences here, here and here.

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