Dispatches from Haiti: Relief Workers Arrive on the Scene

Posted by Tyler Marshall

4278689635_ff30526591_oInternational Medical Corps arrived in Port-au-Prince just 22 hours after the devastating earthquake hit Haiti and immediately started to provide emergency care at a makeshift clinic at the Villa Creole Hotel and the Hôpital de l'Université d'État d'Haiti (University Hospital), a 700-bed hospital in downtown Port-au-Prince that was badly damaged in the earthquake. Since arriving in Port-au-Prince just weeks ago, the International Medical Corps teams have expanded their health services to cover more than a dozen sites in and outside Port-au-Prince, reaching thousands of survivors in need of medical care and emergency relief. International Medical Corps doctors and nurses at the University Hospital and through their mobile clinics are seeing some 1,000 patients a day. Communications Officer Tyler Marshall is with International Medical Corps' Emergency Response teams in Haiti and reporting for GOOD on his experiences and the people he meets along the way.When International Medical Corps Emergency Response Team arrived in Haiti the day following the massive January 12 earthquake-and three other doctors quickly followed on day two-it was a group of four emergency medicine physicians and four emergency room nurses Stanford University Medical Center that answered the call for reinforcements.Since arriving in Port-au-Prince on the morning of Sunday, Jan 17, the eight have worked for nearly two weeks, putting in punishing hours amid some of the most challenging conditions they have ever faced in order to treat those injured by the quake. Visibly exhausted, the team departed for home last Friday.Soon after their arrival, team member Paul Auerbach, Professor of Surgery in the Division of Emergency Medicine at Stanford Medical School, assumed the role coordinating all medical services at the hospital being delivered by the 15 to 20 different international relief groups working there. Friday, Auerbach hands that role over to another International Medical Corps emergency care physician, Soloman Kuah from Columbia University's School of Medicine.They have done outstanding work and saved countless lives as part of the international medical response effort at the country's main hospital in downtown Port au Prince. Still, Robert Norris, who heads the Division of Emergency Medicine at Stanford's School of Medicine, said he looked towards his departure with bitter-sweet emotions."We're glad to go home, but we're very sad too," he said. "There's so much still to do, but there are good people following us."This is the first entry in a continuing series on the devastation and reconstruction of Haiti. As the story fades from the front pages of newspapers and trending topics on Twitter, we will endeavor to provide a continuing look at what is happening on the ground. Photo (cc) by Flickr user IFRC.