Friday, March 19, 2010

Lake Erie College - Hoops for Haiti

I would like to thank the Lake Erie College community once again for their incredible support for Project Medishare. On March 16th, several student groups organized a Hoops for Haiti event and raised about $600. I want to thank Amber Adache and all the volunteers for helping to make it a great success. This is now the second fundraiser held at Lake Erie College. The students have raised roughly $1600 for Project Medishare.

To read more about this event in the News Herald, please click here


Lieutenant Colonel Edward C. Wilson

You could say that Lieut. Col. Wilson was Team Cleveland's "lifeline." He was responsible for safely taking them from the airport to the Haitian Community Hospital, about a 30 minute ride. He was the only soldier at the airport who offered any assistance. He continued to check up on the team periodically to make sure they were OK. Dr. Vanek wants to "acknowledge his kindness in getting us safely to HCH. He called us 'the Cavalry' and said he served in a support role. I thanked him on behalf of our team and told him of how we bless his name and his efforts when we talk of our efforts in Haiti."

Lieut. Col. Wilson writes,

This is just a quick note to follow up on your visit to Haiti and the efforts of your team. I can't tell you how amazed I was with the courage, dedication, selflessness and professionalism you and your staff exhibited in your work to provide critical medical care after the earthquake.

It was truly a pleasure to assist you and your team where we could. I don't know if you remember us, but we gave you and your team and the 700-800 lbs of equipment you had rides to the Community Hospital and coordinated for what security we could provide for you. The efforts of your team are an experience that I continue to hold up as nothing short of heroic and [...] I hope to have the opportunity to thank you and your team in person.

In another note, he writes,

We started a saying based on several experiences we faced during and after the earthquake: "we have to try." You are all testament to what is possible if you just put forth your best effort when faced with adversity, anything becomes possible.

Leiutenant Colonel Edward C. Wilson
MINUSTAH Intelligence Officer (U2)

Here in Cleveland, we tip our hat to Lieut. Col. Wilson for his selfless work and for helping to ensure the safety of our team.

News from the Haitian Community Hospital

I just came across a nice note from a woman who has been volunteering at the Haitian Community Hospital nearly ever day for the past two months. She writes,

Everyday about 200 patients come to the hospital for care: obgyn patients, pediatrics patients, orthopedic patients. Instead of being covered with dirt with open wounds the way people were [in the first week], in March the patients are clean and well-dressed. Babies wear colorful barrettes and cute little shoes. Dr. Valerie Rice, a volunteer OBGYN from Tennessee asked, how could these people living in tent cities be so clean? I think they come here in their best clothing because a hospital is an important place. It's a gesture of respect for you doctors, for the service you are offering. It may be free of charge but it is very valuable. So, let us keep concentrating on the mission, a mission that is a bit changed two months later but no less important: saving lives. The method may be different, the urgency is less predominant but the threats to life continue to be insidious.

To read the note in its entirety, please click here.

Prosthetic Limbs, New Ailments

Volunteers with Project Medishare are beginning to report seeing post-earthquake ailments like malaria, tuberculosis, cholera, malnutrition, and a myriad of infectious diseases. According to Project Medishare nurse liaison Maguey Rochelin, children are becoming more at-risk to life-threatening diseases like malaria with so many families living outside in make-shift shelters, in close proximity to so many others, during the tropical rain season, and without adequate sanitary conditions.

Prior to the earthquake, the rate of TB was 10 times greater than in the rest of Latin America. Haiti saw 30,000 cases of malaria each year. The HIV rate is said to be between 2.5-5%. Those who had been treated for HIV and TB before the earthquake suddenly found themselves without the care they desperately needed. Organizations like Project Medishare are rebuilding and restaffing clinics and hospitals in the hopes of restoring and improving that level of care for those patients.

In just the past week, patients at the Haitian Community Hospital where Team Cleveland operated as well as patients at the Project Medishare Hospital are now being fitted for prosthetic limbs. Amputee patients at both facilities are under the care of volunteer orthopedic surgeons along with physical therapists. 24-year-old Manoushka Blanc, who lost her two sisters in the earthquake, also lost her right leg, recalls waking up from surgery. "It was like I was dreaming, I was still in shock from the earthquake. I didn't realize I had lost my leg - it was only a few days after that I realized it wasn't there. I accepted it because I know the doctors saved my life." For Manoushka, hope came in the form of a prosthetic limb. "When they told me about this new leg I stopped crying because I see hope for my future. I feel much better now knowing that I might be able to live a more normal life." At the Haitian Community Hospital, more than a dozen patients have already been fitted with prosthetic limbs thanks to a team from Connecticut. The hospital, however, has reported that they are in desperate need of prosthesis specialists.

Giving Haitians a Voice in Rebuilding Haiti

"While Haitian resilience has been duly recognized around the world, few appear to be interested in talking to Haitians about how to rebuild their communities and how the billions likely to be pledged to their country will be used. And no one is talking about what recourse Haitians will have if promised projects are never completed, or worse, pledged money never arrives."

Loune Viaud, director of strategic planning and operations at Partners in Health, and Monika Kalra Varma, director of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights, recently proposed possible strategies for helping to give Haiti control over its recovery.

To read this article, please click here.

Securing Women's Rights & Health Needs in Haiti

In the Huffington Post, Berlotte Israel and Margaret Satterthwaite discuss the need for empowering women through the country's rebuilding phase. Gender-based violence, high rates of pregnancy complication, and limited access to education are stark and troubling realities prior to and in the aftermath of this disaster. While meeting the immediate needs of safety and shelter, government officials and donor countries must also secure improved maternal health and equal access to education. To read this article, please click here.

Haiti has the highest fertility rate in the Western Hemisphere. Only 40% of the population had access to basic healthcare before the earthquake. Half of all deaths were caused by AIDS, respiratory diseases, meningitis and diarrheal diseases. 90% of children suffer from waterborne diseases and intestinal parasites.

Project Medishare is working to fully equip a new Maternal Health Center in Marmont. According to the Project Medishare blog, "When the maternal health center becomes fully operational it will be open 24/7 and will have trained staff available and living in the connecting residence. The center will focus on providing the full package of women's health services, including reproductive health education and services, family planning, HIV/AIDS counseling and testing, and prevention of mother to child transmission (PTME)."

Dallas Doctor's Moving Letter from Haiti

Dr. Bob Peters of Dallas recently traveled to Haiti with a medical team. He poignantly conveys his experience in a touching letter to his daughters. To read his letter, please click here.