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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.

Gina Epifano with Nadine who was recovering from skin graft surgery and walking for the first time!

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.

Rehabilitation department at Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare. Photo courtesy of Gina Epifano.

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…

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Video produced by Omar Vega.

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To mark the one year anniversary of the event that forever changed Haiti, University of Miami medical students will be sponsoring a memorial ceremony to benefit Project Medishare.

The event will be Wednesday, January 12 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in front of the Lois Pope Life Center at the medical campus and will culminate with a candlelight vigil.

UM medical students invite Project Medishare volunteers to reflect upon their personal experiences as well as participate in the open mic event during this time of remembrance.

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Project Medishare volunteers in Raleigh, NC are offering an evening of wine and Caribbean food tasting at “Live From Haiti…..It’s Saturday Night,” a fundraising event to benefit Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare on Saturday, January 8.

Guests will have the opportunity to meet a few of the medical staff via a Skype videoconference during the event. Purchase Haitian art, event-labeled wine bottles or get a Mehndi artist to hand-paint an artistic henna design to complement your style for the evening.

There is a suggested minimum donation of $25 per person/$40 per couple which includes a tasting of six wines and six Caribbean dishes.

Can’t attend the event, but wish to show your support? Click here make a contribution on Gina Epifano, Gail Warner and Jenae Jongebloed’s team fundraising page “Live from Haiti, It’s Saturday Night!” Your tax-deductible donation will directly benefit the patients at Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare.

The event will be at Colonial Grand of Brier Creek Clubhouse, 10210 Hillston Ridge Road, Raleigh, NC 27617. For more information contact Gail Warner at warnergail@yahoo.com.

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Our local medical staff and volunteers, along with some of the people we serve would like to send you happy holiday greetings. To view their message click on the video above or click here.

Thank you for all you’ve already done and, in advance, for all you’ll do. Your generosity means the world to the people of Haiti!

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By Jennifer Browning

On Friday, Dec. 10 Herold Charles was honored with a TeenNick HALO Award for his valiant effort to help people find loved ones after the Haiti earthquake.

TeenNick awarded Herold with $20,000. Half would go towards his education and the other $10,000 would go to the charity of his choice. Herold decided to split the donation between two non-profits and provide Project Medishare with a $5000 grant.

On January 12, Herold came home from school and started on his homework. Shortly after 6 p.m. a good friend called Herold to see if he had heard about the earthquake in Haiti.

Herold turned on the TV and saw reports of the 7.0 magnitude quake that had devastated his home country.

“My gut told me, oh my gosh, we in the U.S. aren’t ready for an earthquake,” Herold said, “How can Haiti be ready for an earthquake?”

Herold currently lives in Miami, but his family, including his parents, lives in Haiti. Suddenly, Herold felt a panic that so many others felt. Was his family safe?

“I rushed to my neighbors house across the street and asked to borrow her phone card to call home,” “I called many times and my parents didn’t answer, my sisters didn’t pick up. All of the calls either went to voicemail or it rang, rang and rang.”

As Herold, watched the news, he noticed the coverage shift from that of the quake to those who were starting to look for families and loved ones. The next day Herold went into action.

“The day after I began researching what resources were in Haiti and who was there to help,” he said.

After two days of waiting Herold finally heard from his sister and parents and learned that his family had survived. But there were still so many people missing.

Although he had previously deleted his Twitter account just weeks before, Herold opened a new account and went to work.

Through his Twitter account Herold started asking people to send him their phone numbers, names and addresses of their relatives missing in Haiti. Immediately, his phone began ringing.

Ten of Herold’s family and friends between Jacmel and Port-au-Prince began helping him search for the missing. When his Haiti network returned the information, it was up to Herold to return the call to let those in the U.S. know the information about their relatives. Herold said while he didn’t have to deliver bad news often, when he did, it was very difficult.

“That was the hardest part of the whole thing,” Herold said. “I don’t do good when it comes to tragedy. I started getting chills and I would get sick. When they would tell someone is missing or someone had died…the hardest part was to call the family.”

For the next three months, Herold continued to help in Haiti in a variety of ways. Such as helping organized donated food, supplies and other non-perishable items for those suffering in Haiti.

Herold learned about Project Medishare’s work in Haiti through Twitter.

“I heard so much about [Project Medishare] and their work,” he said. “And whenever we had a need for medical need for someone in Haiti, we would contact Medishare.”

While Herold worked with many organizations, he said he chose Project Medishare because of the medical work the organization provided to the people of Haiti.

“What a great way to help out, but by helping an organization doing medical work in Haiti,” Herold said. “Besides food and water, people in Haiti really need medical help.”

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