UM Nurse Helping Haitians to Care for Themselves

University of Maryland Shock Trauma nurse Laura Cabahug was a member of UM’s first medical team to provide relief and assistance following the devastating earthquake in January. Cabahug, who specializes in operating room trauma and repair, talks about that experience as well as the work she and others are now doing to ensure sustainability of organized, safe health care in Haiti as it rebuilds from this disaster.

UMMC Haiti Relief Efforts By the Numbers

By Chris Lindsley
Blog Editor

The University of Maryland Medical Center, in partnership with the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Catholic Relief Services, has been sending teams of medical volunteers to Haiti since shortly after the disastrous earthquake there on January 12.

Below are some interesting facts about our Haiti relief efforts:

21 – The number of medical teams we’ve sent to Haiti.

97 – Age of possibly the oldest Haitian patient we’ve treated.

261 – The number of health care providers we’ve sent to Haiti.

600 – The number of surgeries our medical teams have performed in Haiti.

6,000 — The number of patients we’ve treated in Haiti.

12,000 – The weight of medications and other supplies UMMC shipped to Haiti with our first medical team to arrive there.

$96,266.26 – The amount of money raised from UMMC employees for our Haiti relief efforts.

$100,000 – The amount of money donated by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

$1 million – The amount donated by Catholic Relief Services.

Previous Posts by Chris Lindsley

Sharing a Laugh in Haiti

The University of Maryland Medical Center has been sending medical teams to Haiti to assist in the earthquake relief efforts since January. While we’ve treated tens of thousands of patients and saved many lives, this photo — of Shock Trauma OR nurse Steve Clevenger sharing a laugh with a young Haitian patient — captures the spirit of what our relief mission is all about.

Steve Clevenger cares for a Haitian child

Haiti: Mission of Hope

WBFF-TV FOX 45 reporter Jennifer Gilbert and videographer Darren Durlach were embedded recently with the UM medical team in Haiti. They reported on UM’s ongoing relief efforts to help the Haitian people recover from the devastating earthquake that shook the country in January 2010.

This cover story features the work the UM team is doing in Haiti, which has treated more than 1,000 patients. This includes the moving  story of a 97-year-old diabetic Haitian woman, who was suffering from gangrene in her leg and was near death. Her sister, from Columbia, Maryland, flew to Haiti to help her mother get the care she needed. She was turned down for treatment at various hospitals in Haiti before connecting with the UM team, which performed a life-saving leg amputation.

Stories From Haiti: “I Will Never Forget What We Were a Part of”

By Steven Louis, M.D.
Director of Orthopaedic Trauma
Good Samaritan Hospital
Hinsdale Orthopaedics

Editor’s Note: Dr. Louis and several colleagues were invited to be a part of the sixth University of Maryland Medical team to help earthquake survivors in Haiti. Below are excerpts of an e-mail Dr. Louis sent to the UM team after returning to Illinois.

It is difficult to put all of what has happened and all of what has and is still going through my head, down in plain words on paper.

When people ask me how was the trip, my first response was hell. It is a great way to let them all know right off the bat of the conditions down there, from the structural, economic, climate, transportation, security, social and political situations. They all perk up after I say this. Then I go into what great work was getting done and how rewarding it was to be part of it. I tell them that I have never worked so hard in my life, and that there is LOTS more work left!

I want you to know that my team and I will never forget what we were a part of down there. As I said to you when we were down there together, we appreciate the invitation to help out, and we are all ready to spend another taxing (but rewarding) week down there.

You guys, in partnership with Catholic Relief Services, have put together a real class act that has far-reaching potential to make a huge difference. It is our honor to have been a part of the team, and we hope to be a part of a future team.

Haiti Relief Event on March 2nd Features Live Video

By Bill Seiler
Assistant Director of Media Relations

Physicians, nurses and other health professionals from the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center and the UM Institute of Human Virology will share their experiences in caring for earthquake survivors in Haiti at a day-long Haiti relief event at the University of Maryland Medical Center on March 2nd starting at 9 a.m.

People can follow the event on Twitter and by watching a live video stream on the UMMC Web site. At 1:20 p.m., the leader of the current medical team in Haiti will participate live with an update on the current situation.

Following the January 12 quake, UM medical teams, through a partnership with Catholic Relief Services, began treating survivors of the earthquake as part of a long-term commitment to provide ongoing medical care. The first UM team left for Haiti on January 28. The teams are rotating every week to 10 days and are working at the site of the St. Francois de Sales Hospital in Port-au-Prince.

People can help support UM’s medical relief efforts by making a tax-deductible donation to the Haiti Support Fund, or by calling 410-328-GIFT (4438).

Two Stories From Haiti

By Chris Lindsley
Blog Editor

Wonder what the situation is like in Haiti? Two members of the first University of Maryland Medical Center team there to provide relief for earthquake survivors — surgical technologist Jake Smith and trauma anesthesiologist Cynthia Bucci, M.D., both with the UM Shock Trauma Center — share their experiences.

Jake Smith: “It’s rough down there. The people definitely need our help.”

Dr. Cynthia Bucci: “The conditions were devastating … it was very chaotic.”

More Reflections From Haiti: “I Fear for the Patients”

By Anthony Amoroso, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Medicine

Editor’s Note: Dr. Amoroso was part of the first University of Maryland team to go to Haiti to provide medical care to earthquake survivors. The following is an excerpt of an e-mail he sent to his wife the day before leaving Haiti. Read Dr. Amoroso’s first Haiti blog post.

I’m going to try to get out tomorrow. A bit torn, patients have gotten word of our departure and getting a bit upset. Every day we make some improvements and it becomes a bit addictive. We worked late tonight doing what we can to make transition to incoming group. There are about 5 people staying on and another 10-15 coming tomorrow. We know every patient in the hospital and have a medical and surgical records on all of them. We only have a few backlog cases waiting the new team.

We leave with 5 functioning operating rooms, an organized stock room, almost automated lab, an admissions and discharge system, medical records, ambulatory appointment system, 6-bed trauma bay for wound care and fractures, community triage teams, some capacity for patient transport, beginnings of sanitation with port-a-pots finally arriving and medical waste and sharps disposal. We continue to struggle for beds, linens, crutches, flys, lack of misquito nets, human waste disposal and basic hygiene like toothpaste, soap, and shampoo.

From a medical standpoint the nature of the injuries — fractured legs, very large wounds, bone infections, kidney failure from crush, paralysis, dead limbs, and amputations — makes for long-term complicated problems.

My biggest frustration and anger lies in the entrenched backward and uncaring health system that permeates the hospital despite the fact that it is destroyed. It’s a real feat that it is running, and this only through the force of several external personalities. As these people leave I fear for the patients and know the volunteers will walk away frustrated.

The bigger picture remains far from over. There are hundreds of thousand homeless people living in squalid improvised camps throughout the city and region. Dysentery is picking up, and we saw the first cases of hepatitis A today. A cholera outbreak is easily feasible and would be devastating. How on earth the cleanup will commence and even come close to succeeding remains a mystery to me.

I’ve hit my wall, fatigued, with muscle and back pain. Chronic dehydration. Now with mouth sores. I have no more socks, underwear, or food. I guess it’s time to go home. It’s been an incredible experience. I’ll be back to see how this turns out.

Preparing for Haiti: Pre-Deployment Briefing Video

By Chris Lindsley
Blog Editor

On January 28 the first team of 22 doctors, nurses and other health professionals from the University of Maryland Medical Center and the University of Maryland School of Medicine left for a relief mission in Haiti.

Prior to departing, the team received a detailed pre-deployment briefing from Dr. Andrew Pollak, associate director of trauma at the UM Shock Trauma Center, after he spent a few days in Haiti assessing the medical needs there.

Get an inside look at how a hospital prepares its team for a relief mission to a disaster site like Haiti after the recent earthquakes by watching this video.

Reflections From Haiti: “I Felt Invisible”

By Anthony Amoroso, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Medicine

Editor’s Note: Dr. Amoroso was part of the first University of Maryland team to go to Haiti to provide medical care to earthquake survivors.  Below are his reflections, written while en route back to Baltimore. Read Dr. Amoroso’s second Haiti blog post

I’m now in Boston awaiting my connection to BWI, my extraction provided by a UN cargo plan. I’m sitting here watching the Rachael Ray Show … the altered sense of reality is intense.

Watching CNN with the horrific pictures of bodies and destruction compelled us all to do something. I am grateful for Dr. [Robert] Redfield, Dr.  [Thomas]  Scalea and all the others for giving me the opportunity to put away the TV remote and help.

I had been to Haiti 5 other times. I knew things would be difficult, but words and a few photos from a moving car cannot capture the utter destruction, impromptu camps, dust, smells and filth. There are certainly thousands upon thousands of people entombed in the rubble and still thousands suffering from untreated wounds and fractures. And I fear the next wave of misery from unsanitary living conditions is around the corner.

For the first time in Haiti I felt invisible, and I was stuck by the fact that people were getting back to the daily hard work necessary to survive in Port-au-Prince.

The Haitian people are hard as nails, but I simply cannot image any rosy future for Port-au-Prince. The international response, though large, is perplexing, and I think the poverty, destruction, and trauma is a staggering challenge.

I believe we did something meaningful. I believe we made a indelible connection not only to the patients but the staff and students of the hospital. I am proud to have been part of the Maryland team — tough, focused, careful and caring and never self important or touristic. I am thankful for the vision, professionalism, respect and humor of the “team.”

The terms “block crush injury” will be with me for life.