Friday, January 29, 2010

Thank You Letter from Dr. Fitzgerald

Dear family and friends,

I can hardly begin to tell you how happy I am to be back home. Haiti was a life-changing experience I will never forget. I am so grateful for all that I have here. The Haitian people have lived with so little for so long, and the earthquake has left them with even less. They are a resilient people and with the world's support they will bounce back. Some things can never be replaced, but I was grateful for the opportunity to give back as much as I could. I am proud of the way that America has answered the call and stepped up to the plate. I know how hard we worked, but I just wish that we could have helped more. Dr. Paul Vanek was truly amazing and I could not have asked for anyone better to work with. Theresa Jackson, RN and Jean Kurdas, RN touched countless lives and the Haitians love them.

I would like to thank my family and friends who kept me, my team, and the Haitian people in your thoughts and prayers. I could not have gotten through it without all your support. I am glad my son, Brandon, was able to act as a liaison and keep all of you informed through his blog. He was also able to convey to me many of your words of support while I was in Haiti, which comforted me through the long days. Knowing that you were so supportive provided us continuous encouragement and energy and lifted our spirits. I want to thank everyone who made a charitable contribution, whether to Project Medishare or to any one of the many other incredible relief organizations. Your gifts are lifesaving.

I'd also like to take the opportunity to thank Project Medishare, the entire Cleveland team, Team Sweden, Lieut. Col. Wilson, everyone at the Haiti Community Hospital, and Amway for flying us home on their corporate jet.

Even though our team returned, the relief effort will continue for a long time and I encourage other teams to organize medical relief efforts deployed to Haiti soon.

Love you all,

Thank You Letter from Dr. Vanek

A letter written by Dr. Vanek and printed in the News Herald on February 7, 2010.

On behalf of the Cleveland team deployed by Project Medishare, I would like to express my sincere thanks. I am so grateful to be back home in America. From the start of this life-altering trip, the love and support of the people of Lake County and the Cleveland area has been felt by our team members.

Beginning with Dr. Ted Nichols, LakeHealth was totally supportive in both encouragement as well as material support. The more than $27,000 in antibiotics and supplies allowed us to be effective as soon as we arrived. Nichols authorized this without hesitation. Dr. Jack Fitzgerald volunteered upon hearing the news that a local physician was planning to leave for Haiti. His professionalism and skills allowed countless patients to have comfort and surgical care under the most trying circumstances. He facilitated the success of our team effort with his tireless work on behalf of the Haitian people. The LakeHealth nurses, Jean Kurdas and Theresa Jackson, touched countless lives and the Haitians love them.

I would like you all to know that we were sustained by the knowledge that our family, friends and well-wishers were praying for us and the Haitian people. The peace of mind this gave me is difficult to put into words. It allowed me to focus my determination to succeed. I would like to thank Brandon Fitzgerald for setting up a way for the Cleveland area to monitor some of our activities.

My family and I were out of communication and his blog served them to stay up to date. Jack read aloud to me from his BlackBerry the words of comfort and support that lifted my spirits and further energized me. I want to thank everyone who made a charitable contribution, whether to Project Medishare or to any one of the many other relief organizations. Your gifts are lifesaving.

I'd also like to thank the volunteers of Project Medishare who worked tirelessly to get our team to Haiti, American Airlines, the entire Cleveland team, Team Sweden from Star of Hope, Lt. Col. Wilson, everyone who shared our zeal at Haiti Community Hospital and Amyway for flying us home on their corporate jet.

The relief effort will continue for a long time. The world community is there helping the terrible conditions we see on TV every night. I call upon the medical community of Cleveland to mobilize and go to Haiti as soon as possible as lives will be saved by immediate intervention. My sincerest thanks and requests for your continued prayers for those involved in the Haitian relief effort.

Dr. Vanek on NPR

Dr. Vanek was recently interviewed by Eric Wellman on WCPN (National Public Radio). He relates a story about a young man whose leg they desperately needed to amputate. "Trying to sensitively convey that to him through an interpreter means kneeling down at his bedside and holding his hand and telling him we love him and that we love his life more than he has to love his leg."

He goes on to say, "I'm so appreciative for things like running water and the things I have in my home and my life and my community." "We're Americans and we need to be down there."

To listen to the complete interview, please click here.

Photos from Team Cleveland

I am happy to bring you photos from Team Cleveland! These photos say more than this blog ever could. Dr. Vanek and Dr. Fitzgerald talked about how important digital photographs were at the hospital. Volunteers would take photos of the victims' wounds and relay them to the surgeons to help the teams prioritize patients and determine how best to proceed with surgeries and patient care. It is remarkable the role technology can play in facilitating such a monumental relief effort. I have omitted any photos I deemed too graphic, but some photos depict surgeries and amputees that might upset some. To check out the photos, please click here.

Click here to see more photos from the Haiti Community Hospital taken by Tiffany Hein. [Note: these do not include any of Cleveland team]

Photographer Tomas Loewy--born in Prague and now living in Miami--has put together a photo album documenting the work of Project Medishare's doctors in Haiti. [Note: these do not include any of our Cleveland team] Click here to see his album.

Interreligious Fundraiser for Project Medishare

On Tuesday, I met with the SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise) group at Lake Erie College in Painesville. I have signed on as an advisor to help them organize a fundraiser for Project Medishare. I was very impressed with the group and their interest in supporting the relief effort. They are hoping to organize churches/temples in Northeast Ohio to set up a supplementary collection that will go to Project Medishare for the purchase of much-needed medicine, supplies and equipment. If your church or temple would like to get involved, please contact us here.

SIFE is a nonprofit organization that gives students the tools to learn the free enterprise system in a real working situation. SIFE challenges students on more than 800 college campuses nationwide to take what they're learning in the classroom and use their knowledge to better their communities. Guided by faculty advisors, SIFE teams establish a variety of community outreach programs that teach free enterprise.