Supporting Haiti

On Friday the 29th of January, I will be taking a week’s leave of absence from my day to day responsibilities at Bioteam and traveling to Haiti with a medical relief team.

I’ll be going with a group called Family Health Ministries. We’ll go overland through the Dominican Republic to a clinic where my wife and I have worked previously.

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2008 Mission – Clinic Intake Area

It’s in the community of Blanchard (also known as Terre Noir), a mile or two northwest of the core of Port au Prince. This is a community where people who have managed to move out of the absolute slums of Cite Soleil have settled. It’s by no means an affluent neighborhood, but it has been stable enough over the last few years that the group has been able to support a decent clinic and a school there.

I have some pictures of the clinic from my last trip in 2008. They are here.

It’s humbling to note that every place that I ever slept, in three separate visits to Haiti, is now rubble. Of the four clinics, two schools, and one orphanage that our group has helped to build – two clinics and the main school (over 500 students) are beyond repair. We’ll either be sleeping on the floors of the clinic, or else in the open – within a church compound – like the rest of the population.

We hope to provide direct ambulatory care in a small community where we have existing relationships. Our watchword is “walking wounded.” For the larger medical cases requiring surgery, dialysis, or other intensive technologies – we hope to rely on Partners in Health and Doctors Without Borders, both of which are superb organizations.

Our group of 15 includes five physicians and two nurses. Based on previous experience, I will be mostly useless on the medical side of things – except perhaps in terms of organization and communication – as well as perhaps literally carrying water for the doctors. To help me provide some small value, Bioteam is sponsoring a BGAN satellite internet connection to help with both emergency and informational communications. While they’re substantially pricier than a cell phone, I think that the whole team will take comfort from being able to update their friends and families.

Bioteam is a very flexible company. We try not to get bound up in procedures and protocols. Instead we steer by a policy of mutual benefit. If there is a path that is right for our customers, for the company, and for the consultants – that’s almost always the right thing to do. When I broached this opportunity with the rest of the team, they first said “yes, go.” It was only later that they asked if I would be willing to share my experiences on the Bioteam blog.

While I can’t promise anything as technically thrilling as Sun Grid Engine or SSH tunnels – I’ll do my best to convey what it looks like from down there.

Update:  All of Chris Dwan’s updates and trip reports can be found at http://www.bioteam.net/tag/haiti/

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  1. Mark A. Jensen says:

    Chris– This is awesome; all the best to you. Please look up the Salvation Army in PAP; they can certainly provide much logistical advice and possibly help. (My pastors, Majs. Ron and Carol Busroe, are currently in country helping to lead TSA’s response. They led the Army’s Haiti Division for about 6 years.) MAJ

  2. Shaista Qureshi, MD says:

    Hi Chris and Jen,
    We love and miss you here in Boston but what you are doing where you are is exceptional. Our prayers are with the people of Port Au Prince and you guys. We are with you in all your efforts.
    Sincerely,
    Shaista Qureshi.

  3. juan carlos diaz says:

    Hi Chris, Juan Carlos Diaz(secuty guard), passing by to say hi. Send my regards to your wife and the rest of the crew from the Dominican Republic.

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