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Posts Tagged ‘Haiti earthquake relief’

Three Young, Displaced Earthquake Survivors Reconnect With Family In Haiti

On Tuesday, June 21, 2011 Project Medishare was able to reconnect three young boys, displaced by the 2010 Haitian earthquake, with their family members in Haiti thanks to the Miami Dolphins. They are only three of the roughly 200 critically injured young children who were medically evacuated from the battered nation and transported to South Florida for life-saving surgery immediately following the earthquake. Only a few of their parents and siblings were able to come with them to the States, leaving the rest of their family members behind in the devastated capital of Port-au-Prince.

The boys arrived at Sun Life Stadium and were given an exclusive tour around the facility. They were able to walk on the field, see the team locker rooms, and an up close look at the team trophy case. The boys were then taken to a room where through teleconferencing technology, each was able to participate in a video chat session with their family members in Haiti.

The first child to be reconnected with his family in Haiti was Peterson who was joined by his mother Armenise. 10 year old Peterson suffered a serious head injury and a severed ear as a result of the quake and required 16 surgeries. Peterson was able to speak with his older sister for first time in over a year. Junior, a 17-year-old high school student sustained a serious leg injury, “I’m just waiting to see my family because I was missing them a lot”. Junior and his older brother Wadner were both able to be reconnected with their father and brother. Lastly, 10 year old Belix and his father Prezner were reconnected with Prezner’s sister and his three youngest children.

Laughter filled the room as the families reconnected. Emotions were also high as the family members shared tears of joy from being able to see each other for the first time in over a year. It was truly a touching moment and it was hard for the families to say good-bye, but the families are optimistic about being reunited once again in the not so distant future.

To see a brief video of this special day, please click here for a Channel 7 News report.

Belix, Peterson & Junior at Sun Life Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins

Special thank you to the Miami Dolphins for opening your facility to these boys & making this a day they will not forget.

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By Ginger Gorham-Hart

Trying to sum up my time spent in Haiti with Project Medishare is almost impossible. I have made two trips with Project Medishare and just arrived back from my third stint last week.

Ginger Gorham-Hart at the Project Medishare Field Hospital

Ginger Gorham-Hart at the Project Medishare Field Hospital

Working at the Project Medishare tented field hospital after the earthquake was the hardest, most grueling work I have ever done. I spent 14-16 hours a day in the operating room. The Haitian patients would walk for days from their small towns just because a surgeon would be at the field hospital. How could we say no? How could we be too tired? We were there to help and so we did.

I would spend my “free time” in the pediatric tent with a sweet, little Haitian boy named Andre. We read books, Andre would teach my Creole and we would laugh all night. At the end of my stay during my first trip, I went to his cot. Andre looked really sad. I asked him what was wrong. He looked up with his big, brown eyes and asked if I was going to be leaving the next day. I responded with what every volunteer says: “yes I am leaving but of course I will be back.” Tears began to appear in his eyes, he grabbed my hand and said “but I love you and will miss you too much.” I have never felt so much emotion at one time as I did at that moment.

I knew after my first trip that I would volunteer again to go back to help in Haiti. I returned to Haiti with Project Medishare, this time to Hospital Bernard Mevs. I was reunited with Andre.

I came to Haiti to be able to help the people after the devastation they faced from the earthquake. However, I can honestly say they have helped me more than I will ever be able to help them. I look forward to returning again to continue My Project Medishare experience.

Ginger Gorham-Hart with patients in the waiting room at the Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare

Ginger Gorham-Hart with patients in the waiting room at the Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare

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Wilfred Macena

Twenty-six year old Wilfred Macena was at work welding in a shop when the catastrophic earthquake hit Haiti in January 2010. Like so many others, Wilfred was trapped under the rubble. He was able to free himself but not without escaping injury. Wilfred damaged his right leg when it was crushed by falling debris.

Wilfred stayed at home with his injured leg for three days before finally getting to Adventist Hospital. He waited at Adventist Hospital for four days but ended up leaving out of frustration as he was never seen by a doctor and went to the neighboring Dominican Republic. Seven days after being injured in the earthquake, Wilfred had an above the knee amputation on his right leg in the Dominican Republic. At first he was very hesitant about the procedure. He asked the doctor what his prognosis would be following the amputation and was told that he would be able to walk again with a prosthetic leg which made him feel comfortable with the procedure.

On April 1, 2010, Wilfred went to the Project Medishare field hospital to have his leg fitted for a prosthetic. Upon his return to the hospital on April 3, the staff explained to Wilfred how to walk with the prosthetic and within five minutes he was up and running! Dr. Barth A. Green, co-founder of Project Medishare, was in the tent and asked Wilfred if he wanted a job with Project Medishare. Wilfred currently works in the Prosthetics and Orthotics laboratory and clinic at the Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare. He takes measurements for prosthetic limbs and knows how to fix them. He has learned how to speak and understand English while working for Project Medishare. Wilfred is also a mentor to anyone that is facing amputation and for those being fitted for prosthetics. He is the perfect example that life does go on even after amputation and is a constant source of encouragement and inspiration. He is playing soccer again with the Project Medishare Team Zaryen Amputee Soccer team. He has a one and a half year old and is expecting his second child in July.

Wilfred’s spirit is incomparable. It takes two hours to get from his tent home to work every day by taking three tap taps. He repeats the same long, treacherous trip to get home each night. He says that he is extremely grateful to Project Medishare because if he did not work there he would not be able to work as he lost everything, including his welding tools, in the earthquake. It is fair to say that the feeling is mutual; Project Medishare is very grateful to have Wilfred as part of our team.

Wilfred Macena at work in the Prosthetics and Orthotics laboratory and clinic at the Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare

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This past weekend a group of Haitian Americans visited Haiti with Project Medishare. The group consisted of wide receiver for the Indianapolis Colts, Pierre Garçon, recording artist Phyllisia Ross & DJ Griot. During their stay, the group toured Project Medishare’s facilities in the Central Plateau as well as the Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare in Port–au-Prince.

The group was able to see the Cholera Treatment Center (CTC) in Mirebalias, the Akamil Production Facility and the Community Health Program in Thomonde as well as the Community Health Program, Maternal Health Center and staff residence in Marmont.

This was only Garçon’s second time returning to Haiti since the earthquake. After the trip, Garçon said that “the work that Project Medishare is doing in Haiti is inspiring. Witnessing it firsthand just proves how critical it is that they are able to continue performing their lifesaving work.”

The group was also able to spend a day at Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare in Port-au-Prince. “I was very impressed and touched by the care the babies in the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit were receiving. We were able to see premature twins arrive in the NICU just as we were walking in,” Ross said. “Haiti is a beautiful country filled with the most resilient people. It is truly heartwarming to know that the most deserving people are able to receive advanced health care because of the Project Medishare staff and volunteers.” Hospital Bernard Mevs houses the only Pediatric neo-natal ICU in Haiti.

Below are a couple of pictures that were taken during their trip.

DJ Griot, Marie, NFL Star Pierre Garçon, Medishare's Wilfrid Macena & Singer Phyllisia Ross

Singer Phyllisia Ross with a baby from the NICU at Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

Check out the above video about the Miami Heat in Haiti. Two weeks ago, Alonzo Mourning returned to Haiti with Tim Hardaway and Miami Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra. The team visited Project Medishare’s field hospital as well as Bernard Mevs hospital, where Project Medishare’s trauma and rehabilitation hospital moved.Mourning has been a supporter of Haiti and Project Medishare’s relief and recovery efforts since the January 12 earthquake.

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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 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

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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Nik Torres, RN, tends to one of Project Medishare's tiniest patients in the NICU/PICU at the field hospital. Many volunteer nurses, like Torres, chose to serve for long stints or return for another deployment. Torres volunteered for six weeks. Photo by Daniel Cima.

By Jennifer Browning

Today for National Nurses Day, Project Medishare wishes to recognize the excellent work done by nurses, whether it is at our field hospital in Port-au-Prince or through our Community Health Program in Haiti’s Central Plateau.

So far 624 nurses have deployed with Project Medishare, along side doctors, surgeons, physical therapists, pharmacists, and many other medical professionals. These volunteers lined up to help our neighboring Haiti in their most desperate hour. Each week new nurses arrive continuing to serve in Haiti now close to four months after the quake.

Nurses like Joplin, Missouri’s Michelle Chacon, who after her 12-hour day shift, went back to the pediatric ward several nights to check on one of her patients, Vincent. The 11-year-old boy had just received a life-saving surgery to due to a ruptured gall bladder.

After his surgery, Vincent told Michelle he thought he was going to die that night. Michelle spent the day sitting with the young boy, staying right by his cot, seeing her other patients as needed, but always keeping a close eye him. At the end of her shift, Michelle came back to the pediatrics ward for several hours that evening to sit with him.

Michelle Chacon, tends to a child in the pediatric ward at the Project Medishare field hospital. Since returning to Joplin, Missouri, Michelle has worked to raise awareness in her community about Project Medishare's work in Haiti. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

“I would just sit by him, look in his eyes, and talk to him,” Michelle said. Despite the language barrier, the two seemed to be able to communicate. “He wouldn’t give up, and I wouldn’t give up on him.”

The next morning, when Michelle began her shift, Vincent greeted her with a big smile full of bright, white teeth.

Two days later, Michelle got to see Vincent stand for the first time since his surgery. A week later, after Michelle had returned to the United States, Vincent was walking with the assistance of a walker. A scene all volunteers at our field hospital were happy to see.

Michelle said that while nursing is the same wherever you may be, she agreed that practicing nursing in Haiti had its challenges.

“With nursing in Haiti, you had to learn to improvise, as not all the medical supplies you need were right at hand,” she said. “The reward in Haiti was greater I think. You could see the impact you made in even just one life. The people there are amazing, so grateful for the care and help they receive. I will always keep a special place in my heart for the people of Haiti.”

Michelle said for her being a nurse is all about giving of yourself and serving others in need.

“It is the greatest job to be able to serve another human being who is down and lift them up. It not only touches your life, but in turn touches their life as well. Sometimes the best medicine is just to take the time to sit beside someone and really listen. Maybe even hold their hand and let them know they are not alone,” Michelle said. “The greatest reward a nurse can receive is a big glowing smile from her patient saying thank you. Just knowing you impacted their life in a positive way caring for them not only physically but lifting their spirits, as well, is reward enough.”

Since returning to her Missouri home, Michelle has been working to raise awareness in her community about Project Medishare.

Many of Project Medishare’s volunteer nurses, like Michelle, have shown the compassion to provide hands-on patient care at the bedside of those we are currently serving in Haiti. These nurses have worked long hours, in challenging conditions and improvised as necessary to help their medical team continue to save lives.

Volunteer nurse, Stefanie Fletcher, encourages 22-year-old Christine through one of her many contractions during labor. The doctors and nurses at this makeshift hospital, treat their patients as if they have known and loved them for decades. Stefanie volunteered with Project Medishare in January and returned for her second deployment at the end of March. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

As Project Medishare works toward moving out of the tent hospital and into a permanent fixed-facility, our local staff has hired 30 Haitian nurses, and is interviewing more to eventually take the place of our wonderful volunteers. Soon, these Haitian nurses will receive additional training in order to learn how to provide better care for their patients at the trauma and rehabilitation hospital.

This is Project Medishare’s ultimate goal, to empower the Haitian people to eventually be in control of their own destiny.

Thank you to all of our volunteer nurses who have helped us provide medical relief to those affected by the January earthquake.

These volunteers couldn’t have done their important work without the financial support of many of you who contributed in the early days and continuing months after the earthquake. It costs $300 to send one volunteer to Haiti to work at our field hospital for one week.

If you have already donated, we thank you, but if you can give more today, your tax-deductible contribution will help us continue our important work to those affected by the January 12 earthquake.

If you would like to give more, please click here to go to our secure online donation site. Your generous contribution will help us continue to work toward our goal in not only saving lives today, but helping the Haitian people stand on their own in the future.

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