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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

Haiti: Call for Help Deepens in the Face of Lost Hope

Published January 14, 2010 4:30 PM by Valerie Newitt

The tragedy that was Haiti a week ago has worsened this week. It has deepened to unfathomable proportions, unimaginable suffering. Innocent people beset by abject poverty, scant healthcare, few medical supplies, unsafe drinking water, raucous streets (there's really no workable police system there) are now also stripped of lean-to homes, meager stores of food, spotty energy supplies and hope itself.

Hospitals have collapsed as the recent earthquake did its best to shake the human spirit from these island survivors. Want to talk nursing shortage? There are only 11 nurses for every 100,000 residents on the island of Haiti. And how many of them are now trapped under rubble? It's anyone's guess.

I've blogged extensively about the pre-earthquake needs in Haiti, nursing volunteerism on the island and the Haiti Nursing Foundation's recently-established - and first - BSN nursing program on the island, FSIL School of Nursing. It was an attempt to share the call for help as well as the pride in their accomplishment. This week the call grew stronger, and the admiration that I feel from a distance in these young, would-be nurses is palpable.

According to Marcia Lane, director of Haiti Nursing Foundation, the nursing students are applying their new skill sets to help earthquake victims. They are pulling together as a team in unthinkable circumstances to realize the power and importance of their chosen profession.

"We know from their response to the fall 2008 hurricanes that FSIL students have the capacity to organize and respond with significant relief efforts," said Lane. "We know that if they are unharmed, they are providing care to people at this moment."

Lane later updated, "We've just received an unconfirmed report that the school [in Leogane, 20 miles west of  Port au Prince] is basically okay and the students are treating many people who've come to the grounds for care."

The school's resistance to the quake may be due to the fact that it was built on reinforced concrete as specified by the U.S. Agency of International Development. A hospital just a mile away was not as lucky - it was flattened.

The nursing school's dean, Hilda Alcindor, RN, a driving force in the creation of the BSN program, has not yet been located and her safety is unknown.

How can enough praise be offered to Haiti Nursing Foundation and the ardent work of people like Alcindor who formed a nursing groundwork on the island? Thanks to their efforts there are now a few more caring hearts and healing hands to help in the face of this natural holocaust.

There will be incalculable needs in Haiti in the coming months. If you care to help from a nursing slant, suggestions are available at Haiti Nursing Foundation's Web site.



Is there anyway to get to Haiti via mission, corp or gov transport. I am so upset and eager to put all my experience to this cause. Can anyone give direction.

January 30, 2010 3:25 PM

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