HEALING HAITI: Anesthesiologist Paul Firth, MBChB, who deployed to Haiti after the earthquake, reflects during the memorial event
WITHIN DAYS of the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that devastated Haiti on Jan. 14, 2010, volunteers from the MGH were en route with federal and local relief organizations to assist in the response. Two years later, on Jan. 19, members of the MGH community gathered in the O’Keeffe Auditorium to commemorate, remember and reflect on the experience that forever affected an untold number of lives.
Jeanette Ives Erickson, RN, DNP, senior vice president for Patient Care and chief nurse, described the need to provide support to Haitian employees at the MGH in addition to the international disaster response.
“We turned our attention in a very different direction than we normally do with a worldwide disaster. This time our immediate response was inward because we knew we had over 300 of our very own who came from Haiti or had family and loved ones in Haiti,” said Ives Erickson. “I recall, thanks to Mike McElhinny, Chaplaincy director, our chapel being transformed. It became a gathering place to not only share pain but also to find comfort. The love of the MGH community was there.”
Renold Audate, Imaging technician, recalled deploying to his home country. “The MGH group of volunteers composed of doctors, nurses and imaging technologists like myself were on the hospital ship USNS Comfort doing what we do best – saving lives,” he said. “Today we are gathering here to remember those who lost their lives during this tragedy and, at the same time, to applaud the effort of our professionals who left their families behind and gave up their comfort for three weeks to help patients.”
Volunteers from the MGH have continued to return to Haiti to provide support through the various stages of recovery. In summer 2011 an additional team supported by the MGH Center for Global Health and the Thomas S. Durant Fellowship in Refugee Medicine worked to combat a rising cholera epidemic through direct patient care and clinical training.
McElhinny closed the memorial by quoting what a fellow MGH chaplain had heard in the streets of Haiti. “We may stumble, but we will not fall.”
Read more articles from the 1/27/12 Hotline issue.