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ADVANCE Perspective: Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine

Therapy Needs in Haiti

Published March 9, 2010 11:10 AM by Lisa Lombardo
I received a somewhat frantic letter this past week from a physical therapist who wanted to help others reach out to help the many survivors of the earthquake and aftershocks that hit Haiti last month.

Lora Boone, a PT who recently volunteered in Haiti, is helping to recruit both PTs and OTs who are interested to volunteer. She stressed that time was of the essence to get to that nation since most health care facilities there don't have the manpower to aid the many victims who survived with severe injuries there. She writes:

"Rehabilitation is currently the priority need in Haiti for the earthquake survivors. However, therapists are scarce, so without staffing to mobilize these patients, they're simply getting more debilitated. Initiating this next step is crucial. We need to mobilize some therapists.

"I volunteered at the Hospital Sacre Coeur in Milot, Haiti, which is run by CRUDEM.  (http://www.crudem.org/). It is outside of Port-au-Prince and was not damaged from the earthquake. It is now THE referral hospital. This hospital expanded from 60 beds to 300 to accommodate the continuous influx of patients. CRUDEM is a wonderful organization, and the accommodations for the volunteers are quite nice. For one week, $40 pays for your food/beverages; lodging, scrubs, showers and laundry are provided.

"The patients are mostly orthopedic in nature, including amputations and fractures. Wound care is also a huge need. We currently have 3 levels of care. Patients are still coming in from other facilities and from Port-au-Prince who have not yet had surgery. Also, there are subacute patients that have had surgery but are dependent for mobility, and those that are fairly independent on crutches, but with non-functional limb(s). Emphasis is not only on mobility, but also on improving function for those that are mobile. In addition, the amputee population is astounding; a prosthetic clinic is in the works.   

"In the near future, we hope to move toward establishing a rehab clinic-type setting to provide both inpatient and outpatient settings. Ideally, we would like to have five therapists at the hospital at any given time, which has been hard to do. Please spread the word to your fellow therapists.

From my personal experience, I can only speak on behalf of CRUDEM and the Hospital Sacre Coeur, though there is an obvious need throughout the Haiti area. Haiti Hospital Appeal accepted a number of our spinal-cord injured patients and are likely looking for therapists as well. The main rehab clinic in Port-au-Prince was destroyed in the earthquake; I have heard of efforts to start rebuilding. 

"When volunteering through CRUDEM, transportation is self-pay, which can be a hurdle for many therapists. I recommend looking for sponsorship/donations. I am starting to fundraise myself, and hope to be able to provide some financial aid for those in need. Contributions would be extremely appreciated. Checks can be sent to: Rehabing Haiti; c/o: Lora Boone; 824 Oak Lawn Dr.; Columbia, MO 65203. Billguyol@me.com is in charge of volunteers; http://www.crudem.org/ is the organization that runs the Milot hospital. 

I can be reached directly at rehabinghaiti@yahoo.com. I have also started a Facebook group called ‘Rehabing Haiti.' Thanks, and let's spread the word."

1 comments

Find more medical mission opportunities for therapists at

http://www.medicalmissions.org/mission-trips/therapist/

Robyn March 9, 2010 4:44 PM

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