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Heeding the Call to Haiti

Within days of the Jan. 12th earthquake that devastated parts of Haiti, MUSC physicians and volunteers packed their bags and found themselves in the rural, mountainous terrain of this poor, Caribbean nation as they provided life-saving care to dozens of critically injured patients.
One page of the operating room register which documents each surgical case performed at the hospital. More than 125 cases were recorded since the first earthquake-related surgery was performed by Dr. Robert Belding (Columbia) Jan. 18, six days after the 7.0 magnitude quake.

Since the event, MUSC and the Department of Orthopaedics have sent two multi-disciplinary medical surgical teams to provide early relief efforts working with medical volunteers at Hopital Lumiere, located in Bonne Fin in Southern Haiti. The effort is considered a start in what will be a collaborative, ongoing effort.
Members of a second team of medical volunteers from Indiana walk toward Hopital Lumiere to assist with unloading supplies from the roof of the mission’s Toyota Landcruiser. The supply load from the two medical groups combined weighed more than 800 lbs.

The first surgical team was led by pediatric orthopaedist Rick Reed, M.D., and orthopaedic surgeon and long-time Haitian medical volunteer Robert Belding, M.D., of  Columbia. A second team, composed of  orthopaedic surgeon Shane Woolf, M.D., Megan Fulton, P.A., with the Department of General Surgery and orthopaedic trauma nurse Jennifer Haughney, 10 West, shuttled in more than 400 pounds of donated supplies and provided ongoing help in treating wounds, performing surgeries and saving the limbs of dozens of patients. The group got pediatric nurse Susan Wimberly, R.N., to stay another week to continue treating patients and to  prepare for the next team.

MUSC volunteers Fulton, left, Woolf and Jennifer Haughney, R.N., were among the first volunteers involved in the early relief effort at Hopital Lumiere.

Travel by motorcycle and mule are two common ways to get around in Haiti.

MUSC physician assistant Megan Fulton and a certified registered nurse anesthetist helped the Haitian operating room staff place a spinal anesthetic prior to surgery.

Since the earthquake, more than 125 surgeries have been performed by the medical teams at this small rural hospital. Additional trips are planned, with MUSC teams working with local medical personnel, Haitian communities and worldwide relief organizations such as the United Nations, Red Cross.
Jerry Reves, M.D., vice president of clinical affairs and dean of the College of Medicine, said he can think of no better way for MUSC to thank Reed, Woolf and the MUSC medical volunteers for their service than to see that this effort is continued.

One of the patient rooms at Hopital Lumiere in Bonne Fin, Haiti with 8-10 beds per room. Many patients stay in this setting for months while recovering.There is no running water in the hospital and the restrooms are either a bedpan or latrine outside the hospital.

The MUSC Orthopaedic Disaster Training Fund was established through the MUSC Foundation to help provide supplies needed to assist in the Haiti Hopital Lumiere effort and in other disaster events involving MUSC medical relief teams.

To donate, visit the MUSC Foundation Web site at Next select the College of Medicine and scroll to Orthopaedic Disaster Training Fund. 
Orthopaedic surgeon Shane Woolf instructs as Dr. Rudolph Richeme, one of the Haitian physicians, treats a wound. The physicians and hospital staff have been working without pay for more than nine months because of severe financial hardship at the hospital. Despite this, every staff member continued to work long hours each day with unflagging spirits.

Friday, Feb. 19, 2010

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