With the support of Hospital Trustee, Mrs. Patricia Bakwin Selch, who made a substantial donation to cover the cost of pharmaceuticals, a team headed by Gary Sherman, D.P.M., went to Haiti to aid those who were affected by the January earthquake. Also in Haiti was a trio of Hospital paramedics. Ms. Juana Lumi was vacationing in the Dominican Republic. When the quake hit, she made her way into Haiti. NYC Medics, an agency that responds to the health needs of people in disasters worldwide by rapidly deploying emergency health professionals to provide critical medical care, helped Mr. George Contreras to travel to Port-au-Prince. Mr. Delwinske Powell was also on vacation and travelled to Haiti where, through his professional contacts, he quickly coordinated and delivered emergency medical supplies to the Dominican Republic for shipment into Haiti.
Upon their return, Mr. George Contreras discussed his experience. Immediately after the earthquake struck, Mr. Contreras said he began planning for his deployment. When he arrived, he was assigned as team leader for a group of physicians, nurses, physician assistants and medics and was sent to areas where many had not received medical care since long before the earthquake. He and his team were responsible for transporting patients to hospitals, for wound debridement, for patient hydration and for repairing improperly performed amputations. He mentioned that the most moving part of his visit came at Cité Soleil, generally regarded as the poorest area in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. He spoke of the people’s resilience, most having spent their entire lives in devastating poverty. He took time to pose with some children from the area (see below), but said that he was most touched by a 110-year-old woman, who exhibited tremendous strength throughout her ordeal. As he was leaving, she said, “Thank God for you and your friends.”
Mr. Contreras is grateful to all from the Hospital who made this mission possible, particularly EMS Director Tony Suarez; Mr. Tony Alfano, Senior Vice President for Operations and Human Resources; and Mr. Jeff Menkes. He noted that many others who were deployed did not have the level of support that these individuals provided for him. Mr. Contreras will address the Fourth National Emergency Management Summit in Washington, DC, in early March on "Lessons Learned from a Clinical Disaster Response to Haiti," and will offer a presentation to the Hospital’s Community Advisory Board on March 18th.
Upon learning of the earthquake, the Hospital also placed collection boxes in both lobbies and in the Cafeteria. Proceeds were sent to NYC Medics.