Partners In Health Haiti Earthquake Recovery

Jan 16, 2010

A post from Tracy Kidder; Paul Farmer and Tracy Kidder on CNN and MSNBC

The catastrophe in Haiti spared the country’s largest – and, I believe, most effective – rural health care provider, Partners In Health. The organization’s principal founder, Dr. Paul Farmer, is on his way to Haiti now with a surgical team. The staff already in Haiti will welcome his arrival, but they have been at work for days now. Indeed, they were some of the first medical personnel to respond to the crisis. This is a large, highly skilled group of about 2000 community health workers, 500 nurses, and 120 doctors. All but a few of them are Haitian. They are spread out now. Thousands of injured people have been traveling from the capital to the hospitals that PIH operates, along with the Ministry of Health, in the Central Plateau – 10 hospitals, all well-equipped and fully functional. Others of the PIH-Haiti team are in the capital Port-au-Prince, where they have set up mobile clinics and where they are now establishing a central base of operations. The plan is to provide emergency care to all comers and to stabilize patients who need higher levels of care and arrange to get them to the PIH hospitals.

Personally, I take hope from the example that PIH has set and is setting again. I think it is one excellent model for the reconstruction of Haiti to come: an endeavor that employs and trains Haitians every step of the way, that builds infrastructure while attending to the basic needs of the poor, that does all it can to strengthen the public sector.

Many people have been writing to ask what they can do. Paul reports, “I just talked to some of my Haitian coworkers who are in Port-au-Prince in the general hospital, and they’ve reported to work. [But] they don't have electricity yet. They don't have the supplies that they need. But there's a lot of Haitian health professionals, doctors, nurses, aides who would like to [do their job], but to do that you need the supplies. You have to have the basics. Gauze, plaster, or other casts. You have to have the equipment that you need. Anesthesia, pain medications, antibiotics. And that's what some of my medical colleagues are asking us for, supplies."

PIH is purchasing and procuring donated supplies around the clock. To aid in these efforts, please consider making a donation to their efforts today.

- Tracy Kidder


Jan 16, 2010

Update from the ZL/MOH hospital in St. Marc

Tremors from Tuesday’s massive earthquake were still being felt in Port-au-Prince this morning. “Little earthquake passed this morning, it’s not done yet,” wrote Dr. Fernet Leandre, a physician at PIH’s sister organization Zanmi Lasante. “[People are] crying, yelling… some are still alive under houses’ debris or ruins.”

Like our facilities in Hinche and Cange, the St. Marc Hospital where Fernet sent his message from, is handling many cases from Port-au-Prince. "The crowd of injured continues to arrive at St. Marc, and there's no surgeon," he said. He and Zanmi Lasante staff are working to bring in a surgeon to handle the many orthopedic cases facing the facility.

Jan 15, 2010

January 14, 2010 Update

Trip to Port-au-Prince reveals more of the tragedy:

A report from Cate Oswald, one of our staff in Haiti, reveals a tragedy more dire than we could have ever expected. Yesterday, she traveled through the Central Plateau to Port-au-Prince and back with our two trucks of meds and supplies. She described the scene:

"We started seeing destruction from Mt. Cabrit (where big rocks lie in the middle of the road) through Croix de Bouquets where it doesn't seem as bad but lots of walls down. Then the scene gets much, much worse. Tonight, everywhere throughout the city, as we drove by the national plaza, there are thousands of people sleeping outside. While I was in Port-au-Prince, there were still aftershocks being felt. I didn't venture into other parts of the city, but as you all know, koze sa pa jwet menm [Haitian saying literally translated as 'this is not a game']."

The trucks met up with PIH staff, including Dr. Louise Ivers in Port-au-Prince, at the UN’s Log Base in Port-au-Prince. Louise was one of two doctors attending at the time, and they had nothing but aspirin until our trucks showed up. The conditions are horrific and people are dying, but in Cate’s report she was hopeful that the supplies will help those at Log Base for the time being. Tomorrow, we plan to move PIH/Zanmi Lasante’s base of operations to the public hospital in the capital city. Some of our colleagues are at the public hospital today assessing the needs and are organizing the next steps of getting supplies, equipment, and additional staff there.

Importantly, given the patients already flowing out of Port-au-Prince to St. Marc and our other facilities outside the city, we cannot leave our hospitals understaffed. So we are recruiting surgeons, anesthetists, nurses, and other medical professionals to go down in the next couple of days to help with staffing, particularly as many of our staff have lost family members and friends.

There are still a handful of our colleagues unaccounted for – we continue to have every hope that it is due to lack of ability to communicate via telephone and the lack of electricity for computers, but we do not know.

Our staff has more or less been working around the clock in Boston and Haiti. We will be paying close attention to our team in Haiti and hope that the volunteer medical groups will help give some of them time to rest, particularly those who have just experience the trauma of being in Port au Prince for the worst of the earthquake’s wreckage.

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Project Leader

Laura Soucy

Annual Giving Coordinator
Boston, MA United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Partners In Health Haiti Earthquake Recovery