By Gina Epifano, PT
There’s something about Haiti that gets into your heart and just won’t go away. It’s impossible to meet the people and not leave a piece of your heart behind. The only solution I have found is to keep going back!
I’ve volunteered as a physical therapist at Project Medishare three times since the earthquake, and am inspired by the transformation of the physical therapy department in one year.
In April of 2010, I had my first experience at Project Medishare’s Field Hospital as a PT. I spent my week in pediatrics, helping children learn to move and walk again.
Working at the tent hospital was a special experience…so many clinicians working together to save lives, doing whatever it took to get the job done. I knew I’d be back.
In June of 2010, I returned to Project Medishare, which had recently moved to new location and partnership with Hospital Bernard Mevs. The Rehabilitation Department at Hospital Project Medishare Bernard Mevs now consisted of two long-term American physical therapists. Jason Miller was beginning to develop an amputee program while Alyson Cavanaugh was creating a specialty rehabilitation program for spinal cord injury patients. They were also starting to train local Haitian rehabilitation technicians to assist in care provision. So much progress in two short months!
When returned to Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare this month, I was immediately aware of how far the Rehabilitation Department had come. I was whisked into an amputee running clinic that was being held as part of the grand unveiling of Project Medishare’s state-of-the-art Prosthetics Lab, built in partnership with Ossür and Knights of Columbus.
In September, Knights of Columbus began partnering with Project Medishare to provide every amputee children with a prosthetic limb and the physical therapy necessary to learn how to use the new limb. In addition, Jason has begun his own fundraising efforts through his website http://www.helpinghaitiamputees.com. Through the site Jason created, individuals can sponsor adult amputee patients to receive prostheses as well.
Jeff Mcnutt, PT, has joined the long-term rehab team and manages the wound care program for both in-patients and out-patients. He continues to train local Haitian staff in appropriate wound care techniques. Locally trained technicians are now providing daily care in both out-patient PT and the Spinal Cord Injury Unit.
Project Medishare’s Rehabilitation Department has come a long way in a year, but there is still work to be done. Volunteers are still needed; supplies are still needed. Consider sharing your time and skills with our neighbors in Haiti. Maybe I’ll see you there…