Return from Haiti

Danette Dooley
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Team Broken Earth leaves after successful medical mission

By the time they leave Haiti today, a team of doctors, nurses and other health care providers from this province will have treated about 500 patients in a one-week period.

Team Broken Earth was working out of Bernard Mevs hospital in Port-au-Prince. It’s where the sickest and most critically injured people come for help, Dr. Andrew Furey said during a telephone interview from the hospital Wednesday.

“These are deplorable conditions but I can tell you this is the best hospital in Port-au-Prince so anyone that comes here has a great deal of hope in us and this is their last hope.”

Furey is an orthopedic surgeon and the team’s leader.

From repairing cleft lips to treating burns to operating on patients who have been stabbed, shot and injured in car crashes — the team has been working around-the-clock, making do with what medical equipment they have but wishing they had more.

“There was a child involved in a motor vehicle accident yesterday but we just didn’t have a bed for her. So she had to be turned away to a different facility where they may or may not provide care for her,” Furey said.

Despite the lack of equipment, Furey said, the team is helping hundreds of patients, many still recovering from wounds they sustained in the earthquake that hit Haiti in January 2010, killing more than 200,000 people and leaving another million people homeless.

“We operated on a young man who had a broken arm from the earthquake. It did not fully heal. We did surgery on it and he’s been discharged. Hopefully it will heal now and he’ll go on to lead a productive life,” Furey said.

Even before the quake struck, Furey said, Port-au-Prince was considered a dangerous city.

The violence increased after the quake, he said, with gunshot-wounds now an almost everyday occurrence.

“Police are beginning to reorganize themselves again with international help like the RCMP. But that’s taken time and it’s rather lawless outside the security gates of the compound,” Furey said.

The hospital is within the secured area.

Memorial University and Eastern Health is working in partnership with Project Medishare — an international initiative of the University of Miami’s medical school which built the hospital and relies on international teams of medical staff to support its day-to-day operations.

The trip is the team’s fourth mission to Port-au-Prince and Heather Flight’s first trip to Haiti.

Flight is a nurse on the team working in the hospital’s emergency department. The work is as exhausting as it is gratifying, she said.

“The amount of trauma that we’re seeing is more than I thought it would be — gunshot wounds and a lot of children with head injuries,” Flight said during a telephone interview Thursday.

While both Furey and Flight say the Haitians are extremely grateful for the care they are getting, Flight says it’s unusual to see emotion — perhaps that’s a hint of the horror these people have already endured.

“I’ve seen a few children pass on here and it’s horrible. But you’re not seeing the outflow of grief that you’d see at home. I think it’s just more of an acceptance down here.”

While she said having a patient die is difficult, Flight said the number of people who have been given a second chance keeps the team motivated.

“I have one Haitian gunshot victim here now waiting to go to the operating room. … He wants to write our hospital and thank them for sending us down. … He said people would not survive if we weren’t here… and that makes it all worthwhile.”

Flight said the trip to Haiti, where you sleep covered in a bed net to keep the bugs from biting, has made her made her more appreciative of what she has at home.

“If more people could experience something like this they’d see how lucky they are to be born where they were born … a place where people can go to bed at night with warm sheets and can walk the streets and feel safe and secure.”

The team will return to Haiti in July.

Furey said the long-term goal is to bring Haitians doctors and other health professionals to Memorial University for further training.

telegram@thetelegram.com

danette@nl.rogers.com

Organizations: Bernard Mevs hospital, RCMP, Furey said.The hospital University of Miami

Geographic location: Haiti, Port-au-Prince

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Recent comments

  • Proud
    February 27, 2012 - 13:15

    I commend the doctors and nurses that have made the 4 trips down to help those who are less fortunare than us. Not sure what happened to Bonita to make them so jaded and negative, but Harold no, you are not out of line with your comment. In some cases here in NL we have more than what we need, so it dosen't hurt to help out those that have been ravaged with tradgey that would wipe out their homes and familys. And as for telling people to shut their mouths for commending these doctors Bonita, I understand that the waitlists here are long, but unless people like these doctors and nurses go to places like that then these people will probably never get the treatment they need. Think about that while you complain about being on a waitlist, you'll get ur treatment. Many of the people in Haiti won't.

  • BONITA
    February 26, 2012 - 11:44

    YEA JOE, I KNOW WHERE CAPS KEY IS,,, AND WHEN U HAVE PAIN EVERY DAY,, BECAUSE OF LACK OF MEDICAL ATTENTION HERE IN NL AND LAB,, YOU WOULD BIT** TOO,,, SO UNTIL YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT SHUT YOUR MOUTH.... AND BY THE WAY,NOTHING HAS CHANGED IN HAITI,,,,, THEY ARE NOT DOING ANY THING TO HELP THEMSELVES..... TELL ME WHAT DO THEY DO,,, NOTHING,,,, AGAIN THE LORD HELPS THOSE WHO HELP THEMSELVES,,,,,, OK

    • Reg
      February 26, 2012 - 13:03

      So if you have so much pain take your own medicine and help yourself rather than not doing any thing [sic.] to help yourself.

  • Harold
    February 26, 2012 - 09:38

    to anyone reading this. those people accept donations. if you believe in what they do then maybe you can find a few $$ to help them out. i hope im not out of line here with my comment.

    • bonita
      February 26, 2012 - 11:47

      yea, u are out of line, millions of dollars was sent there and if you watch tv, u would see ahd heard that all the funds were mishandled,,, lost, stolen and none of the money got to the people....... SO, I ASK U ,,, WHY SEND MORE,,, TO BE STOLEN.

  • Emily
    February 25, 2012 - 17:36

    I saw this team of doctors on the news this past week reporting from Haiti. It is very inspiring to see these young doctors literally risk there lives to save lives! WOW! Congratulations to you all for being true to your career!

    • Suzanne
      February 26, 2012 - 13:28

      I agree with Emily and other postive responses here. Bonita, don't be nasty. It takes too much energy.

  • BONITA
    February 25, 2012 - 10:58

    I AM SURE YOU WERE A GOD SENT FOR HAITIANS, BUT ITS JUST A BANDAID EFFECT TO WHAT THEY NEED,,,, IN SOME CASES, THE LORD HELLPS THOSE WHO HELPS THEMSELVES,,, AND FROM WHAT I HAVE READ AND SEEN ON TV, THEY ARE NOT DOING MUCH TO HELP THEMSELVES... THE GOVERNMNET DON'T SEEM TO BE IN THE PICTURE,,, WHAT ARE THEY DOING AND THE MISHANDELING OF FUNDS THAT HAS BEEN SENT THERE IS HORRIBLE,,,AND SOMEONE HAS TO HE HELD RESPONSIBLE... BUT SO FAR ,,,, NOTHING,,, AS FOR "TEAM BROKEN EARTH,,AS COMMENDABLE AS IT WAS,,,,, CHARITY STARTS AT HOME,,,, WHEN ALL IS FIXED HERE IN NL AND LAB,,, THAN GO ELSEWHERE TO FIX THINGS,,, THERE ARE TOO MANY PEOPLE IN THIS PROVINCE WAITING TOOOOOOOO LONG FOR MEDICAL TREATMENT..... THIS IS NOT HAITI,,,,,,,,,,,, THIS IS CANADA,,,, AND AS TAX PAYERS ,,, WE DESERVE BETTER CARE TOOO... SO THE NEXT TIME U DECIDE TO GO OUTSIDE OF NL AND LAB TO BE A GOOD DOCTOR, THINK ABOUT ALL THE PEOPLE WHO HAS BEEN WAITING TWO YEARS FOR KNEE REPLACEMENT,,,, OR MRI,,, OK,,,,, I AM ALL FOR HELPING OTHERS, BUT CHARITY STARTS AT HOME,,,,WE CANNOT TAKE CARE OF OTHERS IF WE ARE FALLING APART OURSELVES....WE ARE NO GOOD TO OTHERS IF WE ARE NOT TAKING CARE OF OURSELVES..... REMEMBER THAT....

    • Joe
      February 25, 2012 - 13:31

      You're comparing waiting for knee surgery to starving, being homeless and injured with no help whatsoever? wow.... By the way, your caps lock button is on the left, above shift...

  • Mary
    February 25, 2012 - 09:08

    Thank you!! You people are all Heaven sent. Never been to Haiti, must be devastating to see all the suffering. A wonderful story to hear of your successes in such bad conditions. I know your reward is seeing the results of your hard work but please know you are very much appreciated for your good deeds, devoting your precious time and energy. God's Blessings to you!!