Medical outreach teams save lives in Haiti

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To further bolster health care in Haiti, AmeriCares supplies volunteer medical teams with medicines to provide essential services, including primary care and surgeries.

Since the dark days after the 2010 earthquake, our Medical Outreach program has outfitted 582 medical teams with medicine to treat more than 900,000 people in Haiti — a value of $37 million*. Immediately after the earthquake, many doctors volunteered for trauma care, often operating in tents. Now, with some medical facilities repaired or rebuilt, they can offer a wider range of care.

“I could not function in Haiti without AmeriCares,” said Jay Nielsen, M.D., and co-founder of Missions International of America. The organization, formed in 2002, provides medical care, education, micro-economy and basic supplies to a community of about 2,500 in Savonette, Haiti. the people of Haiti. AmeriCares has supplied Missions International medical teams with crucial medicines and supplies for 23 medical outreach trips.

Neilsen explained that when Missions International arrived in Savanette, the local people had no medical care, water, or school. The organization built an elementary school providing free education and meals to hundreds of children. Four or five times a year, they bring a team of doctors and nurses to treat patients over the course of 4-5 days, in a three room clinic building across the street from the school. In 2009, they hired a local nurse practitioner to work at the clinic, seeing patients twice a week – up to forty patients each day -- at no charge.

“Having access to health care makes our patients feel as if there is a safety net,” Nielsen said. “The most important service AmeriCares provides is hope.”

Neurosurgery nurse Ann McNeil flies to Haiti two or three times a year to assist with procedures that drain excess fluid from around the brains of children who suffer from hydrocephaly. McNeil uses our Medical Outreach program’s online system to order intravenous antibiotics, anesthesia gases, sutures, pain medicines and precious IV fluids and tubing.

Each trip, McNeil and volunteer surgeons and specialists perform surgery—at no cost to patients’ families—on 15 to 25 children at Hospital La Paix in Port-au-Prince. “It’s a thrill when we come back and see the kids walking and developing normally,” said McNeil.

*Figures as of December 31, 2012