Posts Tagged ‘physical therapy’

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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By Jennifer Browning

While Haiti’s only critical and trauma care facility, Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare, is now operating with a predominantly Haitian staff, we are still accommodating up to 43 volunteers each week.

Starting in October, volunteers are required to pay a $300 tax-deductible fee to help offset the costs of our operation. This fee will help offset the cost of Project Medishare’s  operation and enable a continuation of the life-saving work at happening at Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare, which is currently Haiti’s only critical care and trauma hospital.

As many of the news cameras have turned away to cover other areas of the globe, we are receiving fewer donations to cover the operating cost of our critical care and trauma hospital in Port-au-Prince. Project Medishare relies primarily on individual donors to keep our programs operating in Haiti. As we move from relief to recovery, we are asking our Bernard Mevs volunteers to assist with offsetting the cost of their in country expenses while volunteering with us in Haiti. The $300 fee is a mere fraction of the cost it takes to send volunteers to our hospital each week.

Project Medishare has received an outpouring of support and thousands of volunteers have signed up to help. The primary focus is bringing volunteers with a medical background and requiring at least an eight (8) day commitment and based on the needs coming from the hospital in Haiti.

Due to the lack of space at Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare, we can’t take medical students or staff personnel (non-medical) until further notice.

As part of the partnership with Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare and their local staff, Project Medishare volunteers not only assist with providing healthcare, but also work to train in the various specialties including prenatal and neonatal intensive care (PICU/NICU), spinal cord rehabilitation, nursing, family medicine, general and specialty surgeries, physical therapy, prosthetics, and pharmacy.

Interested volunteers can CLICK HERE to sign up and make sure to fill out the entire form.

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Bernard Mevs nurse, Sindy Abdon, goes over a patient chart with Dr. Eric Dehoux, a physician volunteering from Canada. While volunteering over the next two weeks, Dr. Dehoux is working with doctors and nurses in the medical surgical unit to extend their knowledge in treating and caring for those with spinal cord injuries. Those coming to volunteer with Project Medishare are not only here to help treat patients, but also train their Haitian medical colleagues. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

By Jennifer Browning

Six months ago, Project Medishare volunteer doctors and nurses in collaboration with the University of Miami Global Institute, rushed to the aid of those affected by the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Since January, Project Medishare have treated over 30,000 patients and recruited over 5000 medical volunteers

Marianna, 15, begins learning how to walk with her prosthetic leg for the first time. Assisting her is Cedieu Fortilus who is training to become certified prosthetic technician.Photo by Jennifer Browning.

Last month, Project Medishare transitioned out of the tent hospital and into an existing community hospital, Bernard Mevs, in a partnership to continue making healthcare accessible to the Haitian people. Here trauma and rehabilitation care are provided and our permanent and rotating volunteer staff are conducting a medical training and education program in critical care, trauma and rehabilitation for the local medical staff.

In addition to joining forces with the Bernard Mevs staff, Project Medishare has hired 82 local medical professionals making our hospital staff predominantly Haitian.

The local medical staff is receiving training in all areas including prenatal and neonatal care, general surgeries, specialty surgeries, spinal cord injury, physical therapy and prosthetics.

Haitian nurses who have never worked with preemies before are learning the intricacies of prenatal and neonatal care, as Project Medishare runs the only PICU/NICU in all of Haiti. Currently, there are five students studying to become physical therapy technicians, and two others are training with a prosthetic orthotist to learn how to fit prosthetics and become prosthetic technicians.

“In Haiti we have a dream that we will be able to learn,” Marie Carmelle Charles, a physical therapy tech student said. “Now with this training opportunity, that dream is coming true.”

As Project Medishare moves into this next level in providing training important funding is needed to continue expanding these efforts as we work toward improving access to healthcare in Haiti. Please join Project Medishare in this important endeavor, click here to make an online donation today.

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Nurse Michelle Chacon and physical therapist Mahera Jeevanjee help Vincent walk a few steps to and from his bed. Vincent couldn't stand three days before after having surgery as a result of his ruptured gall bladder. Vincent smiles at Michelle and Mahera each time they come into the pediatric ward. The two volunteers come in and visit him in the evening to check on him. Photo by Jennifer Browning.

By Jennifer Browning

Eleven-year-old Vincent was brought into the Project Medishare Hospital at the beginning of the week with a ruptured gall bladder and advanced typhoid. He needed surgery immediately.

“Tuesday he was in the ICU and he couldn’t stand,” Michelle Chacon, a volunteer nurse from Missouri said. “He told me that night that he thought he was going to die.”

Michelle said that Vincent had lost his brother recently to malaria and was afraid that he would face a similar fate.

On Thursday, he stood for the first time. Today, Vincent took small steps to begin strengthening his legs. He is eating and gaining energy slowly.

Mahera Jeevanjee, a volunteer physical therapist from Methodist Hospital in San Antonio, Texas, has been working with Vincent to encourage movement and to strengthen his thin arms and legs.

Using a soccer ball, Mahera and Vincent toss the ball back and forth to each other. After walking a few steps to and from his bed, Mahera gently kicks the soccer ball to the little boy and slowly he kicks it back.

The two volunteers said that Vincent smiles big when they come into the ward. Both Michelle and Mahera come visit Vincent during their off time.

“He’s our little buddy,” Michelle said. “We like to come in and make sure he is alright.”

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By Jennifer Browning

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti—Physical therapist, Jana Koch reaches her arms out towards her patient offering to help her patient stand up.

“They need to be mobilized as soon as possible, ” Koch said, “in order to help them get back on their feet again.”

Nicholas, a translator with Project Medishare/Global Institute helps Jana Koch assist her patient in using a walker. Physical therapy is part of the care necessary for earthquake victims to recovery from their injuries. Photo by Jennifer Browning

Koch is a physical therapist out of Louisville, Ky. She is here to help Project Medishare/UM Global Institute patients recover. Getting her patients to walk around not only helps keep muscles functioning properly, but also keeps them from getting other illnesses like pneumonia.

Those who are suffering from fractures or broken bones, do their therapy with the assistance of crutches, while others get assistance from therapists and support staff  and the use of a walker.

“A lot of the people here can’t put their weight on their leg, so we teach them how to walk without putting pressure on their injury,” Koch said. “It’ s not good for their joints or muscles to just lay in bed.”

Koch came down with a group of doctors looking to volunteer. They visited several clinics in the area, but found the Project Medishare/UM Global Institute hospital was more organized. She said her team arrived with three orthopedic surgeons. They checked in and were approved with credentials almost immediately. Ten minutes later they were at their positions, tending to earthquake victims.

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