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Friday, 22 January 2010

Volunteering with International Medical Corps in Haiti - Page 2

Written by Rachael Repoff
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On January 12th, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck beneath Port-au-Prince Haiti; the initial quake was followed by twelve aftershocks each greater than 5.0 in magnitude. Nearly every structure in the vicinity collapsed into rubble. Recovery efforts began immediately to rescue the millions of people displaced and the thousands who were feared dead. Disaster relief organizations from all over the world descended on Haiti to provide aid.

 

inTravel: Where in Haiti were you stationed?

Volunteering with International Medical Corps in Haiti, volunteer haiti, International Medical Corps, Jocelyn Jean Baptist, volunteer doctors and nurses, Port-au-Prince Haiti earthquake, Rachael RepoffJocelyn: During my two week stay, I worked mostly at the University Hospital in Port-au-Prince. I spent a little time at a nearby local clinic which was much less stressful than the hospital; most patients were there for follow-up care.

inTravel: What was it like working at the University Hospital?

Jocelyn: It was very hectic. From 7AM to 5PM we were busy non-stop. First, we’d admit the patients, then we’d prioritize them by health needs; patients with the most critical conditions were seen first. People came in with injuries ranging from amputations and broken bones to various infections.

Many people would also come to the hospital with “old injuries”. These weren’t injuries caused by the earthquake; they were older injuries that people had just been living with, often for years. We never judged anyone who came in; we were simply there to provide care to anyone in need who walked in the door.

I also think many of the people with “old injuries”, partly were coming in because they were scared and really wanted to connect with someone. They knew they’d have a consultation and that someone would listen to their story. It seemed to me that the need for human contact after such a traumatic event was almost as important to their well-being as the medicine we gave them.

Volunteering with International Medical Corps in Haiti, volunteer haiti, International Medical Corps, Jocelyn Jean Baptist, volunteer doctors and nurses, Port-au-Prince Haiti earthquake, Rachael Repoff

 

inTravel: I have no doubt that’s true. I’m curious if your neonatal nursing skills were utilized?

Jocelyn: Well, I spent a great deal of time educating pregnant women and new mothers about what nutrients they need during that time. I also spent a great deal of time reinforcing the importance of breastfeeding.

inTravel: Do you currently have plans to go back?

Jocelyn: I’d like to go back soon, but I do have my regular job in the US, so I’ll probably have to wait a few months.

inTravel: What do you think the recovery goals should be for Haiti in the short term and in the long term?

 

Jocelyn: In the short-term, providing proper shelter for all people and making sure that everyone, especially children, are getting proper nutrition from each food group.

Long-term, I think the focus needs to be on health care and rebuilding the education infrastructure. With most of the schools and universities now destroyed, it’s the perfect time for a fresh start.

I know the media will inevitably move to the next disaster, but I hope that everyone doesn’t forget about the devastation that occurred there. It’s going to take time to heal; this isn’t just something you can put a Band-Aid on.

My greatest wish for Haiti is that it gets through this difficult time, comes out of it stronger than before, and is able to stand tall.

*Our Collective Thanks Jocelyn Jean Baptist

For donations to or information on International Medical Corps: http://www.imcworldwide.org/

©Rachael Repoff

(Page 2 of 2)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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