Jan 22, 2010

Emergency Response Update

Within 23 hours of the earthquake, International Medical Corps’ Emergency Response Team arrived in Port-au-Prince. Our current team of 40 on the ground includes 27 medical personnel, a mental health specialist, and logistics, financial, communications, security, and coordination officers.

The team is providing medical care outside the general hospital near the Presidential Palace, the Hopital De l’ Universite d'Etat d'Haiti. Our physicians and nurses are working together with other nongovernmental organizations that have joined us in the hospital. We have established eight basic emergency operating rooms, and are currently providing medical supplies for the hospital.

President Clinton met with International Medical Corps’ Emergency Response Team on January 18th. He spoke with our doctors, and noted our urgent needs: • Our field hospital had 1,500 patients seeking treatment -- 70% to 80% need surgery. • About 75 amputations were performed on January 17th alone; another 150+ were needed. • Through a partnership dating back to Hurricane Katrina, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the largest public service employee union, has offered International Medical Corps 400 volunteer nurses, many Creole speaking. • We delivered desperately needed medical supplies to the field hospital, and more supplies—including emergency medical kits and food—are arriving via caravan from across the border in the Dominican Republic. • Our team is treating crush injuries, basic wounds, trauma, shock and other critical cases – with the few available supplies.

International Medical Corps physicians assisted in significant reorganization of the hospital including establishing the first inpatient/post-operative unit in Port-au-Prince post-earthquake. Under International Medical Corps’ guidance, patient management and flow has recently improved and the hospital is now able to accept referrals (and is perhaps the only hospital accepting referrals right now which can provide overnight care).

Reaching the Underserved

The team is also supporting small medical posts near the Villa Creole Hotel in Port-au-Prince. We have also begun operating mobile units in Leogane (the epicenter) to reach those who are underserved. Leogane (population 134,000) is severely affected with 80-90% of the buildings damaged.

The team has conducted assessments in Carefour, Grassier, Leogane, and Jimani. In Grassier, we have established primary health care support for a community clinic that had previously been abandoned. International Medical Corps will continue to assist in coordination of public health assessments with the World Health Organization and other nongovernmental organizations in the affected areas.

International Medical Corps will expand emergency medical care to underserved populations through both static and mobile clinics, and will provide primary health care as needs dictate, including immunization and disease prevention. Furthermore, International Medical Corps will continue to support devastated public health facilities by providing supplies, medicine, and personnel to manage the increased caseload of patients due to the emergency.

Building Capacity in the Midst of Emergencies

International Medical Corps will build capacity in Haiti’s health care system and infrastructure through training, administrative support, and rehabilitation of health facilities. Already the team has improved the management and administration of the Hopital De l’ Universite d'Etat d'Haiti, and local Haitian students were trained by our team to help triage incoming patients.

Going forward, International Medical Corps will support health posts and clinics in underserved areas through rehabilitating, restocking, staffing, and training. We will continue to work with the Ministry of Health, the government of Haiti, and local communities to conduct needs assessments and establish leadership committees representative of all stakeholders, including women. In particular, International Medical Corps efforts will include water and sanitation efforts to drastically improve living conditions and general health, and prevent disease from spreading. A hallmark of International Medical Corps’ work is training local doctors, nurses, midwives, and community health workers to care for their own communities.

In addition, International Medical Corps is known for its technical expertise in both medical and health care administration in humanitarian emergencies. We will support the Ministry of Health and health facilities throughout Port-au-Prince and the surrounding area in hospital and clinic operation; administration, disease-monitoring, and record-keeping; personnel management, recruitment, training, and retention; and logistics of stocking medical equipment and supplies.

International Medical Corps firmly believes that the best way to create lasting change is to invest in long-term recovery at the outset – it begins in the midst of emergencies. This year International Medical Corps marks its 25th anniversary of providing critical, lifesaving care to millions, while bridging the divide between relief and recovery. International Medical Corps’ mission—to restore devastated medical systems by arriving quickly in crisis, then training local practitioners to care for their own communities, restore well-being and build self-reliance—has been and continues to be crucial. International Medical Corps has worked side-by side with local doctors, nurses, and health workers; it has delivered the highest standard of medical care and training; it has elevated the level of primary health care in developing countries to a level second to none. The knowledge and skills that International Medical Corps leaves behind remain the great measure of its strength and impact.

Jan 15, 2010

Update from Haiti

Thank you so very much for your generous support of our efforts in Haiti!

As of January 15th 2010: The Haitian Red Cross says it believes 45,000 to 50,000 people died and 3 million more hurt or left homeless. Today, many people are still trapped alive in the rubble and Haitians are wandering the streets of Port-au-Prince searching for water, food and medical help, with thousands of bodies lying on the roadsides. The International Medical Corps Emergency Response Team (ERT) which arrived in Port-au-Prince via Santa Domingo on Wednesday afternoon less than 24 hours after the earthquake described their late afternoon drive from the airport as surreal. Most of the town does not have electricity, yet random traffic lights were operational. The streets they drive down were strewn with rubble and fallen cables and littered with vehicles and buses that had crashed as the quake struck. People lined the streets - standing away from buildings and quietly sitting in a daze, exhausted and scared of the next aftershock. Many injured people were helpless in the crowds and many dead bodies were stacked up along the side of the road. The seaport is damaged (cranes collapsed). The Port-au-Prince airport is damaged and planes full of supplies arrived yesterday more quickly than ground crews could unload them. This led to such congestion that the airport is now closed to commercial air traffic, probably until tomorrow. We do not still have any idea of who survived. Local doctors and nurses are missing; many believed dead. One International Medical Corps ERT member told a CNN interviewer: "The problem is that unlike traditional disaster situations we have few local partners to work with, because most of them have had their buildings destroyed and are looking for their own dead and missing." We have all seen the dreadful images that are coming to us from Haiti. We all now understand that Haitians are now entirely dependent on what the outside world can do. At International Medical Corps, we immediately responded to this huge shock by deploying an Emergency Response Team within hours. It comprised an Emergency Coordinator, 2 Emergency Physicians with backgrounds in disaster medicine, a former WHO-Medical Officer experienced in public health in emergencies, a Security Officer and a Finance Officer. They are all relief experts and have substantial experience of natural disasters as well as of working in recovery programs in fragile or low income countries. The International Medical Corps team is staying outside of the Villa Creole Hotel and sleeping in tents. The hotel is also being used as a makeshift hospital and our physicians delivered services there Wednesday evening and last night. By day – yesterday and today – the ERT is operating in the downtown General Hospital across from the palace – the Hospitelier de'l Universite d'etat d'Haiti. Three more emergency physicians will arrive with supplies and equipment today on a charter flight from Santo Domingo. Three additional emergency medical teams composed of 16 nurses/doctors are also being deployed today from the U.S. The ERT is treating crush victims, trauma, basic wound care, shock and other critical cases with the few available supplies. A lot of patients with broken bones, fractures and ruptures. International Medical Corps has also reached out to partners and donors to procure materials and supplies for its relief efforts. It is has finalized shipments of donated medicines and medical supplies from Heart to Heart, the Bridge Foundation, Project Hope and the UK’s International Health Partners. We have always worked closely with Operation USA and enjoyed the benefit of its relief flights into natural disasters in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan to name but just a few countries. Cash donations – the lifeblood of rapid response to sudden onset disasters – have enabled International Medical Corps to also procure urgent supplies in the Dominican Republic. We have Emergency Medical Kits arriving today from the Dominican Republic – each kit is designed to treat 30,000 people/month and the contents have been designed by WHO and international working groups, based on emergencies. International Medical Corps also has shipments that were scheduled to arrive directly in Port-au-Prince from Miami today, but with the airport’s closure to commercial traffic it doesn’t look as if they will arrive tomorrow. International Medical Corps is currently finalizing a partnership with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) for the between 90-120 of its Creole-speaking nurse members to join in International Medical Corps’ response as surge capacity – this will have a significant multiplier effect on both current activities and the foundations we lay for health system recovery and development. We will work with communities to identify and prioritize their needs and their most vulnerable members through the networks of Haitian community organizations and activists on the ground. All activities will support national capacity in responding to emergency medical cases and mass casualties.

Jan 15, 2010

Press Release 1/14/10

January 14, 2010, Los Angeles, Calif. – International Medical Corps’ Emergency Response Team is in Port-au-Prince assisting survivors of the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti Tuesday. The team is providing medical care outside the general hospital near the Presidential Palace where hundreds of people have congregated for help.

“People are afraid to go indoors because of aftershocks, so most of the care is being provided outside,” says Margaret Aguirre, Director of Global Communications for International Medical Corps. “We are working with the few Haitian health workers that are here. The goal is to provide triage and basic treatment with the limited staffing and supplies that we have.”

“Most patients that we have seen are suffering from broken bones, but some are in more serious condition and there is no hospital to refer them to. Medical supplies, such as IVs, pain medicines, and bandages, are extremely limited,” continued Aguirre.

Other members of the Emergency Response Team are conducting a rapid needs assessment and visiting hospitals around the city to explore their condition. In addition to emergency medical care, survivors of the earthquake are likely to be in immediate need of food and water, as well as non-food items like blankets, tents, stoves, and water purification equipment. Public health is a major concern as well. International Medical Corps will also focus on providing emergency shelter and other essential items in its relief effort.

“International Medical Corps is prepared to respond to all levels of medical assistance depending on what the most pressing needs are,” says Dina Prior, the Team Leader for the response. “Emergency health care will be our primary focus, both in the form of hands-on care and medical supplies and drugs.”

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