The 7.0-magnitude earthquake that laid waste to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and destroyed all of the capitol city’s hospitals, happened on January 12, but its repercussions for local O&P care may stretch for decades into the future.
Healing Hands for Haiti, a non-profit, non-governmental secular institution that provides some of the only clinical mobility and rehabilitation care in the country, is currently working with Handicap International to send an advance reconnaissance team of North American experts to the country, according to Rick Miller, CO, Healing Hands for Haiti Team Minnesota team leader.
Next, the group hopes to send a clinical team of experienced volunteers-preferably those who have been to the country before and either speak French or know the culture-and a large cache of supplies. Miller reports that the group is forming a database of O&P professionals willing to donate expertise on future rehabilitation trips to Haiti. To sign up, fill out the Healing Hands for Haiti volunteer registration form.
“Healing Hands for Haiti has a 10-year track record of successfully providing rehabilitation teams to Haiti,” Miller wrote to the OANDP-L listserv. “If you ever have wanted to be a part of a humanitarian effort, this is the time to act.”
Paul Prusakowski, CPO, FAAOP, adds that those wishing to donate componentry for Haiti can mail items to the Prosthetic and Orthotic Components Clearinghouse (POCC), whose address is MedShare International, c/o POCC, 3240 Clifton Springs Road, Decatur, GA 30034.
Antonio Kebreau, the Healing Hands for Haiti in-country operations manager, has reported that two people living in apartments on the Healing Hands for Haiti campus are confirmed dead, and one other is missing. Three of the charity’s buildings have completely collapsed. Though the group has a working generator and running water, gasoline and banking are inaccessible. Eric Doubt, Healing Hands executive director, reported, “Our clinic and administration building are damaged with cracks, and the two staircases leading to them are impassable. The guest house is intact, but Antonio stresses it needs to be assessed….”
Al Ingersoll, CP, a Healing Hands volunteer, told The O&P EDGE, “In the short term, with all the crush injuries we are seeing on television, there’s a going to be a huge need for rehabilitation medicine, and we’re one of the few organizations that has been doing that in Haiti.”
For more information on Healing Hands for Haiti, visit www.healinghandsforhaiti.org