Friday, October 29, 2010

Providing HOPE

MGH caregivers deploy to Haiti to assist during cholera epidemic

HELP FOR HAITI: From left, Barkin, Jane Caporiccio, Ferguson, Sheehan, Jill Caporiccio and Monaco

The recent cholera epidemic in Haiti has killed more than 300 people to date. The country, which has been struggling to rebuild after last January's devastating earthquake, has received international medical assistance to help care for the close to 5,000 individuals struck by the illness. On Oct. 25, the MGH joined these efforts, deploying team leader Laurence Ronan, MD, co-director of the MGH Center for Global Health's Office of Disaster Response, and five nurses -- Jane Caporiccio, RN, Joyce Barkin, NP, Emily Ferguson, RN, Alysia Monaco, RN, and Nora Sheehan, RN. The group, which arrived safely in Haiti, is being coordinated by MGH disaster response collaborator Project HOPE, which provides health care relief across the world.

"The MGH, which has a longstanding relationship working with Project HOPE, responded as soon as the situation in Haiti reached grave and epidemic levels," says Ronan. "On Friday night we contacted a list of more than 50 nurses who are trained and on standby for these situations. We are so grateful to these nurses and their colleagues, who have made arrangements for coverage at the hospital during their leave."

For Ferguson and Monaco, the trip marks their second deployment to Haiti, while Sheehan already has served in the country twice before. Caporiccio and Barkin are there for the first time. Caporiccio joins her sister Jill Caporiccio, RN, also an MGH nurse, who has been providing care at the Hôpital Albert Schweitzer for the past five months through an MGH Thomas F. Durant fellowship. Once the cholera outbreak began, she moved from the hospital, where she was assisting with rehabilitation and prosthetics, to attending to the cholera epidemic with Project HOPE as medical director.

"The team headed to Hôpital Albert Schweitzer first to assess the situation and support the hospital staff," says David Bangsberg, MD, MPH, director of the MGH Center for Global Health. "Working with Project HOPE, we aim to help contain the outbreak and treat those affected by the illness. The MGH team will be there for two weeks caring for patients with symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, vomiting and severe dehydration."

Adds Ronan, "The MGH has a 200-year history of serving our neighbors when in need, locally and internationally. We remain committed for the long term to helping Haiti's community in caring for patients and training their caregivers and residents about cholera care and prevention."



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