Saturday, February 27, 2010

Project Medishare - Transition to Rehabilitation

Dear Friends of Project Medishare,

More than six weeks have passed since Project Medishare's volunteer doctors and nurses arrived on the ground in Haiti to assist those devastated by the January 12th earthquake.

After working in the country for over 15 years, we have built strong relationships with the people of Haiti. These relationships allowed Project Medishare to be one of the first foreign medical teams on the ground immediately assisting those in need of critical care.

We are working towards transitioning our field hospital to be the first trauma and rehabilitation hospital in Haiti. Currently, this transition includes offering physical therapy and psychosocial support for those with spinal cord and brain injuries, as well as the many amputees who lose limbs due to severe crush wounds. So far, we have purchased over 500 prosthetic limbs for our patients at the field hospital in Port-au-Prince. Soon our volunteer doctors and nurses will begin working with amputees in the fitting for these limbs, as well as providing the physical therapy necessary to help these people work toward living normal, productive lives.

As you know, Project Medishare will continue to be a driving force in providing care for those affected by the disaster. We will be working in the coming months and years to help Haiti recover and rebuild. Our transition to rehabilitation demonstrates one of the many reasons we need your ongoing support.

The earthquake's damage lingers far beyond the city limits of Port-au-Prince. Before the earthquake, Project Medishare's Community Health Program in Thomonde served 85,000 in the Central Plateau. After the quake, a mass exodus of over 400,000 people from Port-au-Prince migrated to rural Haiti in search of shelter. Our staff in the Central Plateau are already noticing a population explosion in Thomonde and Marmont. Such growth will place an additional burden on our ongoing health programs. Currently, we are conducting a census to determine how much our population has been affected by this mass migration.

We thank you for your ongoing support in helping us provide continuous care to all those we are serving in Haiti during this great time of need.

In Solidarity,
Dr. Barth Green (President) and Ellen Powers (Executive Director)

To make a donation to Project Medishare, please click here.

To read more about the problems facing rural Haiti since the earthquake, click here to read Ken Ellingwood's story in the L.A. Times: Haiti quake is beginning to be felt miles away.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lake Erie College - Special Thanks

Last week, on Wednesday February 17, Dr. Fitzgerald and Dr. Vanek spoke at Lake Erie College. It was a great success and we raised $1000 for Project Medishare.

I would like to thank the Students In Free Enterprise chapter of Lake Erie College, especially Steven Abbott and Erik Green. I would also like to thank President Michael Victor for his gracious hospitality, and the Center for Entrepreneurship for their generous donation. I would also like to thank Rev. Gerard Mirbel of the Miracle Revival Ministry in Painesville for delivering the benediction. Rev. Mirbel is a native of Haiti who has returned there on nine occasions since moving to the United States in 1983. He helps support a school of 600 students in Miragoane, Haiti and plans to go back in March.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Politics of Rebuilding

Lake Health Presents "An Insider's Look at Haiti"

Team Cleveland will speak on Thursday, February 25 at 6:30pm at TriPoint Medical Center (in the Lubrizol Conference Room of the Physician Pavilion). The event can also be viewed via video conference in the Main Conference Room of the West Medical Center.

The event is geared towards members of the medical community interested in getting involved in the ongoing Haiti disaster relief efforts. Space is limited. To register, please call the Best of Health Line at 440-953-6000 or 1-800-454-9800.

Lake Health is a leader in community health care in Northeast Ohio and was instrumental in Team Cleveland's effectiveness in the Haiti relief efforts.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Kenyon College News Coverage (2/18)

Click here to read a recent article about our blog in Kenyon College's Collegian. I hope that it will motivate students at my alma mater to pick up the cause. The Kenyon College community is strong and supportive like none other I have experienced. Kenyonites are a wildly creative bunch, and I have no doubt they could come up with a tremendous fundraiser.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Dr. Fitzgerald & Dr. Vanek to speak at Lake Erie College

Lake Erie College's Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) has invited Dr. Vanek and Dr. Fitzgerald to share their first-hand accounts of the disaster in Haiti on Wednesday, February 17 at 7:00 p.m. in the Morley Music Building on their campus in Painesville.

The event is free and open to the public, as well as the Lake Erie College community. There will be free parking at the First Church of Christ located at 422 Mentor Ave. in Painesville across from the Austin Science Center. All donations collected at the event will go to Project Medishare.

For directions, please click here.
For more details about this event, please click here.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Interview with Project Medishare co-founder Dr. Barth Green

Dr. Barth Green, co-founder of Project Medishare, speaks with New American Media on February 5th about the most pressing health needs, logistical concerns, the response of the U.S. government, and long-term solutions.

How would you describe the country’s health infrastructure before the earthquake?

There are wonderful doctors and nurses in Haiti. But as far as a real health infrastructure, it didn’t exist, because they didn’t have the funding. They haven’t had the resources, the technology.

If you have a heart attack or stroke in Haiti, you die. There is not one angiogram machine in the whole country. Think about it - 10 million people, not one angiogram machine. They can’t catheterize a patient. It’s a totally different world, one hour from Miami.

What are Haiti’s most pressing health needs right now, and what are going to be its most pressing future health needs?

In three weeks, the rainy season begins, and there’s no doubt we’re going to have epidemic issues with malaria and dengue.

TB and HIV - there were hundreds of thousands of patients under treatment. They can’t get their medicines, there’s no place to go.

We’ve seen case after case of tetanus. I’ve been a physician for 40 years, and I’d never seen tetanus.

We’ve got tens of thousands of people disabled from amputations, from paralysis, spinal injuries, brain injuries. (These) people need (physical) rehab and there isn’t a good resource in Haiti now. There were small smatterings, but they were crushed.

Many aid workers have expressed concerns about a lack of coordination of the relief effort. Has this been your experience?

Right after the earthquake it was total chaos, it was a different world, but now we’re beginning to get our act together.

It’s not well coordinated between the different divisions and agencies, but it will be shortly because there’s a turnover plan. There’s organization about who’s going to do what - that’s good news.

What is your impression of the U.S. government’s response to the quake? What would you advise the U.S. government to do?

No nation in the world has invested more money and more effort and more resources than the U.S. The United States is committed to Phase 2, which is not just resuscitation, not just CPR for Haiti, but reconstruction to get it a better way.

The downside is the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. The DOD doesn’t talk to HHS, which doesn’t talk to USAID. It’s just very frustrating.

I’ll give you an example: There are 7,000 U.S. troops, heavily armed, on the ground there. We asked the U.S. government -- our government -- for some support, which would take about a total of 20 soldiers. They said no, they’re too busy. So we had to hire mercenaries to protect our camp. Is that right? I don’t think so ... we’re serving as the triage for the U.S. (Navy hospital ship) Comfort and for the medivacs, they’re using us as a staging center.

Were lives lost as a result of the temporary hold on humanitarian flights out of Haiti?

I know they were lost. The question is, would these people have died?

(Before the earthquake), we had (performed) the first kidney transplant in Haiti. The poor gentleman got into problems with his graft. It was right in the middle of the embargo on flights, and he died in the hospital, right next to the airplane. If the airplane was flying, would he be alive? I think so.

That’s just one example. There’s no doubt that lives were lost, but lives are being lost every day there because of inadequate medical facilities and staff and organization.

What are long term solutions regarding the transportation of critically ill Haitian patients?

The worst thing to do would be to put them on planes and fly them all over the U.S. The nuclear family would disappear. Sometimes there’s only one parent (and) if you take an adult to go with a child, the other children are orphans. If you take a husband who’s the provider to go with his son, the family is without anything.

The best thing to do and the best practices are what we’re doing right now. Today as we speak, CT scanners, MRI scanners, anesthesia equipment, ICU equipment, fluoroscopy -- all this is being flown in, it’s being set up in temporary hospitals … we’re going to put them in permanent structures. By treating them in Haiti, on the ground but with world class resources, you’re giving (patients) the opportunity, short term, to have the best care possible. Long term, we’re going to leave every piece of this equipment and we’re beginning to train our Haitian colleagues so when we hand off these hospitals in the next couple of months, they’ll be there forever. We’re not rebuilding Haiti the way it was, we’re rebuilding a different Haiti.

What advice would you give an aid worker heading to Haiti, to prepare psychologically?

There’s nothing you can do to prepare for what you’ll see. It’s life changing. I didn’t see one doctor or nurse who hadn’t cried and didn’t cry at one time, no matter how old, big, macho, whatever.

It’s really important for any for American going down there, or any foreign person, to step lightly. Remember these are a very proud, dignified people. I think a lot of things people do, especially in today’s media world, are inappropriate. People are sending out blogs with their own agendas on the internet. I would ask them to treat (Haitian patients) as they would their own family, be respectful. The good news is that 99.9 % of the people who are working with us are there for the right reasons.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Another Message from the Executive Director of Project Medishare

Dear Friends of Project Medishare,

Family members carried Evans Monsigrace into Project Medishare and University of Miami's Global Institute Hospital in Port-au-Prince Monday night after being pulled from the rubble 27 days after the earthquake. The 28-year-old has been selling rice when the quake destroyed the market where he was working. For four weeks he was trapped in a void of rubble. A large boulder, his only obstacle to freedom. Although trapped, Evans was able to move and gain access to minimal amounts of food and water helping him patiently wait for hopes of rescue.

He arrived at our trauma facility bone-thin and dehydrated, but after a night of fluids and care from the Project Medishare volunteers, he remains in stable condition in the hospital's intensive care unit.

Evans' story mirrors that of the hope and resilience of the Haitian people, but also demonstrates the ongoing need to continue our relief efforts to those traumatically affected by the January 12 earthquake. Television cameras are beginning to turn their lenses elsewhere, however there is still so much to be done.

Last week, volunteer medical teams lacked an incubator after delivering a premature baby by C-section, but came up with a ingenious warming solution by using MREs to warm the baby. The military's Meals-Ready-to-Eat come with flameless heaters that use a simple chemical reaction to warm food. Project Medishare's volunteer medical team from the University of Miami continue to work creatively like this to provide the best care possible to these earthquake victims, but appropriate equipment and supplies are still needed.

Haiti's Communications Minister, Laurence Jocelyn Lassegue, reported yesterday the death toll from the quake has risen to 230,000. Haiti's Prime Minister reported over 300,000 are still in need of medical attention and over a million are homeless in the capital city.

Smaller clinics who were set up in the earlier days to provide acute care are now closing and referring their patients to other clinics like ours. As promised, we will continue to care for the Haitian people still affected by this humbling tragedy.

We still need funding to continue our efforts and prepare our hospital for the rainy season which is steadfastly approaching. If you have already given, we again thank you for your support. If you can do more, we ask for you to do so at this time.

In solidarity,
Ellen Powers, MPH
Executive Director

Cleveland Area Fundraisers

Help Haiti: Young Professionals Cocktail Event
This Friday, February 12, from 5:30-8:30pm at BarRoom/Cadillac Ranch (200 Euclid Ave), The Graduate Business Student Association of the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University is holding a cocktail event to raise funds for MedWish International, a Cleveland-based non-profit. The event aims to unite young professionals of Cleveland to discuss further opportunities to engage in Haiti relief and rebuilding efforts. The event will include free appetizers and drink specials. They are asking for a $10 minimum donation.
For more information, click here or check our their event on Facebook.

Cleveland Hopkins Airport
Cleveland Hopkins Airport is partnering with MedWish International to take donations for Haiti relief. Donations of antibiotic ointment, bandages, rolled gauze, ace bandages, and other supplies will be accepted through Friday between 6am and 9pm. Donation bins will be at the north, center, and south ends of the ticketing level and on baggage claim at the Welcome Center.

Hawken for Haiti
Hawken School in Lyndhurst and Gates Mills has launched a school-wide initiative to support victims of the earthquake, with all funds being donated to MedWish International and Partners in Health, which was co-founded by Todd McCormack, class of '78. To read more about what Hawken has been doing, please click here.

Cleveland Jewish Community
The Jewish Community Federation, Mt. Zion Congregational Church in University Circle, and Star of David BBG have been supporting the relief efforts. To read more about what they have been doing, please click here.

Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA)
Students at the Cleveland Institute of Art are designing creative ways to help raise disaster relief funds. To read more, please click here and continue to check back with their blog for updates.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Update from the Haitian Community Hospital

We just received a letter from Kim Sassine, a nurse that took care of patients in ICU at the Haitian Community Hospital. Kim worked closely with Team Cleveland. A lawyer by day, she continues to work with patients in the afternoons and on weekends.

Hi Jack and Paul,

The hospital is now "under control." Many of the emergency post-earthquake patients have been cared for. We are now in fact seeing more "normal" cases (labors, cold, flu, various consultations), although we do get the occasional earthquake victim - yes, even a month after!

We are actually seeing some TB outbreaks, and a few meningitis cases. I do have a personal fear of some sort of epidemic breaking out.

I am also worried about [the mental and emotional health of some of the patients]. The French had a couple of psychologists come in to talk to patients. I think in the upcoming months it is going to become a serious issue for people here (foreigners and locals alike).

I still go to the hospital in the afternoons and weekends. Unfortunately, the current teams are completely new and we don't know each other at all.

It is really funny hearing some of these docs and nurses complain about having to work under these circumstances. Believe me when I say these guys are no working in a five star hospital compared to what you guys were dealing with. I try really hard not to laugh, not to roll my eyes, not to pat them on the back and especially not to tell them about my super troopers from Ohio and Sweden!

I don't know if you guys remember Hervé. He was the double BK amputee that you guys had evacuated to the American ship. I see and speak to him regularly. He said he enjoyed his trip on the ship. It wasn't the Comfort ship he was sent to but the USS Vincent. After a few days of wound care, he was discharged and sent back home. He was never sent to Jacksonville. He still comes to the hospital for dressing changes. His spirits are still high. This kid has a lot of heart. I brought him a tent earlier this week and some groceries. He now lives on a soccer field with his parents.

His leg appear to have healed fine. I was with him earlier this week and according to the Korean doctor doing his dressing change, his staples are to be removed probably at the end of the month. I am concerned about his left leg (which was the most infected one). It appears to have a dark coloring on the skin closest to the staples. The doctor assured me that it was not infected but was mostly dead skin cells. Unfortunately, a lot was lost in translation. I'm going to take a few pictures of his legs and send it to you both for some little long-distance consultation.

An agency came by several days ago to register all of our patients' information for a distribution of prosthetic limbs.

I actually Googled you guys recently and was not at all amazed to find out that you guys are a big deal. Go Ohio!

I hope this email finds you both well. I keep you both in my prayers and in my heart. We were all so blessed and are incredibly grateful that you and your team came in and did your medical magic.

My love to all,
Kim Sassine

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

About The Benefit

Thank you to everyone who came out to support Project Medishare at last night's Cleveland-Haiti Relief Benefit. It was a great success and everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves. We raised $3025 at the event, which brings our total donations to $7045!

Special thanks go to Marianne Frantz of the American Wine School for providing the venue, the wine, and the generous gift card we raffled off for courses at the wine school.

I would like to thank our many sponsors for providing the delicious food and many raffle prizes, and everyone who brought treats to share. The Earthquake wine Dr. Fitzgerald supplied was a big hit and a great way to cap off the evening. I am grateful to The Andi Foundation for providing us with a Hyde Park gift card for our raffle. The Andi Foundation, founded by Vicki and Andre Parhamovich in honor of their daughter who was killed in Iraq, helps young women fulfill their education and career dreams. I would also like to thank Joyce Barrett for donating her Cavs floor seats, and the Cavaliers organization for donating a Daniel Gibson autographed basketball. These generous gifts were a welcomed and unexpected surprise.

I'd also like to thank Debbie Harris for helping to organize this on such short notice. She did an amazing job.

Dr. Paul Vanek, Dr. Jack Fitzgerald and Jean Kurdas RN spoke eloquently. It was a privilege to hear their first-hand accounts of their relief efforts in Haiti. It was informative, heart-wrenching, and at times humorous. We were sorry that Theresa Jackson RN was unable to attend.

If anyone has photos from the benefit, please click here to contact me so I can arrange to receive them by e-mail.

Thanks again for everyone's continued support!



Monday, February 8, 2010

Cleveland Haiti Relief Benefit

Dr. Fitzgerald and Dr. Vanek spent a week in Haiti helping the earthquake victims. We tracked their journey on our blog. Now, let's join them in person and help raise money to continue Team Cleveland's support for Project Medishare.

On Monday, February 8, we will be holding a benefit at the American Wine School / Cellar Door from 6-8pm. It is located at 3355 Richmond Road, Beachwood, OH 44122.

Donations will be collected at the door, and there is a $25 minimum to attend. All drink proceeds will go to Project Medishare. Donations can be made by cash, check, or credit card.

Food will be provided by Moxie, Melange, Sushi Rock, and Pickwick & Frolic. Many other restaurants and businesses have graciously donated gift cards that we will raffle off, including Red, L'Albatross, Fleming's, XO Prime Steaks, Melange, Melting Pot, Alson Jewelers, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, and Cookies By Design.
I'd like to thank Debbie Harris for helping to organize this and Marianne Frantz from the Cellar Door for her generous support.

For directions, please click here.
For more information, please call Brandon at 216.337.4894

Friday, February 5, 2010

Shaqtastic News!

Cleveland Cavalier Shaquille O'Neal is a strong supporter of Project Medishare. Click here to see a video of him talking about the Haiti relief efforts. To order the t-shirt he is holding in this photo, please click here.

On his twitter account he recently wrote, "Peace to organizations like [...] They are really doin big things in haiti, thanks"

Dr. Fitzgerald wore his Cavs hat the entire time he was in Haiti. He mentioned that many of his patients were big fans of Lebron and Shaq.

Thanks Shaq! Cleveland is proud to have you as a Cavalier!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Haitian Creole Language

Creole, or Kreyòl, is the language spoken by about 80% of the Haitian population. Along with French, it is one of Haiti's two official languages. It is the most widely spoken creole language in the world. Translators are in high demand during this crisis, and priority is given to medical volunteers with a background in Creole or French.

Here is a list of some common Creole words and phrases that Dr. Fitzgerald took with him to Haiti:
Bonjou - Good morning
Bonswa - Good afternoon
Komoan ou yet? - How are you?
N'ap boule - Good
Wi - Yes
Non - No
Mesi - Thank you
Merite - You're welcome
Tout bagay anfoam? - Is everything OK?
Atansyon! - Watch out!
Kote Ii ou fe mal? - Where does it hurt you?
Nou bezwen yon dokte - We need a doctor
Nou bezwen pansman - We need bandages
Kisa ki rive ou? - What happened to you?
Kisa ou bezwen - What do you need?

For more information about the Haitian Creole language, please click here.

Photo of Dr. Vanek in Surgery

Dr. Vanek performs limb salvage surgery at the Haiti Community Hospital on January 21 at 10:21 pm. Photo courtesy of Yan from Team Sweden.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Message from the Executive Director of Project Medishare

Here is an abridged version of a letter sent out by Ellen Powers, Executive Director of Project Medishare:

Dear friends of Project Medishare,

Some 16 days after the Haiti earthquake, Project Medishare continues saving lives. The news cameras are beginning to leave but the most difficult work still lies ahead.

At the request of the Haitian Government, we are operating one of the largest field trauma hospitals in Port-au-Prince and have deployed more than 500 medical, administrative and logistic professionals to staff this 300-bed, tent-based critical-care hospital with four operating rooms and an ICU.

Retired NBA star Alonzo Mourning has provided generous funding to help pay for the hospital and has traveled to Haiti with our teams twice to help. Please click here to hear a special audio message from Alonzo Moruning.

Project Medishare has also assumed the role of triage alongside the U.S. military and managing medical evacuations of the most critical patients.

Project Medishare has a permanent presence in Haiti and we are committed to staying in this fight for the long haul. Already our long-standing rural health programs are being overwhelmed by the exodus from Port-au-Prince. Hundreds of thousands of women and children still need access to prenatal care, vaccinations, nutritional monitoring and other lifesaving healthcare.

Eventually our plan is to transition our tent-based field hospital to a Ministry of Health-managed permanent facility, leaving behind a first-class trauma hospital where none has existed before. We are also integrating local Haitian doctors and nurses into our operations in an effort to better train each other.

Ellen Powers, MPH
Project Medishare
Executive Director