More than two weeks after the earthquake that devastated the Caribbean nation of Haiti, the situation remains a humanitarian crisis as hundreds of thousands of injured and homeless seek treatment and shelter. There are more and more signs of hope: Hundreds of millions of dollars have been donated from around the world, some semblance of daily life is resuming on Haitian streets, and roughly 150 temporary hospitals and clinics – including a US Navy ship docked off the coast of Port-au-Prince – have set up to treat the wounded. Yet beyond the immediate triage, long-term health care worries about illness, infection and serious injuries persist, including the need for an estimated 200,000 amputations due to wounds suffered in the quake.
To bolster this continued effort to provide high-quality medical care in the coming weeks and months, two teams left the University of Chicago Medical Center for Haiti earlier this week. Made up of emergency medicine specialists, orthopedic surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses, the teams are suited to assist both the immediate and long-term challenges of the medical crisis. One team, made up of physicians from the UCMC-affiliated North Shore University Health System as well as Northwestern University and Johns Hopkins University, flew into Port-au-Prince. Another team, with three physicians and two nurses (both Haitian natives), will set up in Fond Parisien, a town near the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic that has become a hub of medical care to earthquake survivors. The team also brought more than 1,000 pounds of medical supplies with them, and additional teams of UCMC personnel will rotate into the camp every two weeks – more than 100 physicians and nurses have already volunteered for the effort.
The first dispatch from the arriving team underscored the urgency of the need for medical care and supplies. “Just finished getting crushed,” wrote team co-leader and emergency medicine physician Christian Theodosis the day after their arrival. “67 patients on 3 buses, after dark. Conditions quite intense, quite rough. Running short on tents, short on hands, several generators now, security intact. Many, quite vulnerable people. Hungry and tired.”
Updates from the latter team will be posted at Haiti Relief, a blog set up by the Medical Center’s Global Health Initiative. That space also hopes to start conversations among experts across the University of Chicago campus about how best to treat and rebuild Haiti, its health care, infrastructure and beyond. From there, you can read articles from UChicago anthropologist Greg Beckett on the underlying issues Haiti faced before the earthquake. If you would like to donate to efforts in Haiti, the University’s Chicago Studies project have set up a blog with links and information about local and global campaigns.
After the jump, some pictures from Dr. Theodosis of the Fond Parisien hospital camp.