Saturday, January 30, 2010

Volunteers Get Right to Work Helping Haitians

It's the second work day for Project HOPE volunteer nurse Elizabeth Quinby on the USNS Comfort. The 25-year-old nurse from Massachusetts General Hospital begins her shift at 7 am and will end it at 7 pm, every day, seven days a week, for the next three weeks.

Elizabeth, called "Libby", is one of 30 Project HOPE medical volunteers who joined HOPE's Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Harold Timboe and Dr. Larry Ronan to begin a three-week rotation aboard the USNS Comfort, a 1,000-bed floating hospital ship that arrived at Port-au Prince, Haiti, ten days ago.

Around 1000 patients and their family members are currently on the Comfort and cared for by a staff of 1,300 ship and medical personnel which include 32 HOPE volunteers.

Libby volunteered for the first rotation. "Our hospital let us go," she says. "They were incredible generous, providing the airline ticket and offered to continue to pay our salaries for the first two weeks on the ship." She says that going to Haiti to help the victims of the devastating earthquake that struck the country almost three weeks ago was nothing more or less than following "a call I felt this time."

Despite challenging working and living conditions on the Comfort, which include long working days with little breaks in-between and little privacy while trying to get some sleep at night, Libby, who works in the general adult medic. of her hospital, shows no signs of regret or exhaustion. "When you listen to the stories of the patients here on the ship things are quickly moved in perspective."

Libby takes care of 6 adult patients currently. "I think there will be more soon," she says. "Most of the Navy nurses take care of 10 patients in my ward. It's incredible. When we arrived the Navy medical staff welcomed us with open arms. I think they are very happy we are here to help them."

Story and photo by photo journalist and HOPE's volunteer public affairs officer, Astrid Riecken

Friday, January 29, 2010

Photos of HOPE Volunteers Arriving in Haiti

Project HOPE Volunteer doctors and nurses pause for a group shot before leaving Jacksonville Florida on Wednesday January 27, 2010.

Volunteers flew into Port-au-Prince , Haiti through Guantanamo Bay on Wednesday afternoon.

Not all the volunteers made it onboard the USNS Comfort before nightfall, and some spent the night in tents in Port-au-Prince before boarding the floating hospital ship early the next morning.

The volunteers who spent the night in Port-au-Prince slept on cots and ate a ready to eat military ration (MRE) for dinner.

Help Support Project HOPE Relief Efforts in Haiti

Thursday, January 28, 2010

HOPE Volunteers Arrive in Haiti

Flexibility and a willingness to do without is all part of a humanitarian assistance mission. Just one day into their three-week rotation in Haiti, Project HOPE volunteers are already showing their tenacity and willingness to do what it takes to help the people of Haiti.

HOPE volunteers left Jacksonville, Florida for Haiti yesterday to begin caring for injured Haitians onboard the USNS Comfort. Plans for an aircraft carrier landing and then transport to the Comfort were changed and instead volunteers flew into Port-au-Prince Airport by way of Guantanamo Bay.

Rushing to beat nightfall, 16 of the volunteers were flown by helicopter to the Comfort now located two miles off the coast of Haiti. But night prevailed, and due to the safety precautions of night helicopter landings, not all the volunteers made it aboard the Comfort last night.

The remainder spent the night in Port-au-Prince, sleeping in tents on cots with a just a ready- to-eat meal (MRE) and water. Still, their sparse accommodations and MREs were more than many Haitians have at his point. Project HOPE staff member Matt Peterson reported all the volunteers in Port-au-Prince were in good spirits and up at 6:00 a.m. this morning ready to embark the Comfort and get to work.

WATCH this great news clip featuring HOPE volunters leaving Jacksonville for Haiti.

News Video of Volunteers leaving Jacksonville for Haiti

Watch this Good Morning Jacksonville news clip of Project HOPE volunteers as they leave Jacksonville yesterday!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

HOPE is in the Air

This morning, 29 HOPE volunteers will board two U.S. Navy C-2 Greyhound aircraft at Naval Air Station Jacksonville to begin what may become an experience of a lifetime – bringing care and hope to the people of Haiti.

After landing on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson – an adventure in itself – the HOPE volunteers will board helicopters to travel to their new home away from home for the next three weeks – the USNS Comfort.

The HOPE volunteers are comprised of medical professionals with experience in surgery, neonatal intensive care, pediatrics, post anesthesia care, intensive care and physical therapy.
They represent health institutions such as Massachusetts General Hospital, Johns Hopkins Hospital and a variety of large city and rural community health providers from across the United States. The first rotation of HOPE volunteers represents 13 states and the District of Columbia.

In the days, weeks and months ahead, their stories and the stories of those they are serving will be told on this blog and on the HOPE Web site.

Visit often and see the difference big-hearted American volunteers can make in the lives of the Haitian people. And if you can, please support HOPE's relief efforts in Haiti.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

HOPE in Jimani

Ruth Madison, Project HOPE's Health of Women and Children Technical Advisor, is on the ground in Haiti and the Dominican Republic assessing where the needs are greatest for HOPE volunteers and medical supplies. Here are her observations:

On Saturday, I visited the Good Samaritan Hospital in the border town of Jimani, Dominican Republic to assess opportunities for HOPE volunteers and medical supplies. As I pulled up to the hospital, a U.S. Navy helicopter lifted off with its precious cargo of severely injured Haitians on its way to the USNS Comfort.

Upon entering the hospital, I was caught up in the energy and excitement of several international and NGO volunteers heroically providing care to hundreds of injured Haitians who had crossed the border seeking care from the medical staff and resources available at Good Samaritan.

After speaking to the hospital’s head of volunteer coordination – a volunteer herself – and learning she had sufficient staff and medical supplies, I crossed the open field that separated Good Samaritan for an orphanage.

That open field, by the way, also served as a bedroom to hundreds of local residents. On Friday and Saturday, aftershocks ranging from 4.0 to 6.0 on the Richter scale shook the small town. Fearing their homes would crumble, several residents moved their beds outside to this field.

Back at the orphanage, it was a completely different situation than what I witnessed at the larger Good Samaritan Hospital. Although still functioning as an orphanage, it had also become a hospital to help the overflow from the neighboring hospital. Here I saw a need for HOPE volunteers and medical supplies which we will provide in the coming days.

However, one of the images I will remember from Jimani was a Dominican nurse with two Haitian toddlers giggling, laughing and having the time of their lives. Despite some of the differences the two countries have had over the years, it was heartwarming to see the good of the people, putting aside their differences and helping one another.

Ruth Madison

Monday, January 25, 2010

Life, Death and Birth in Haiti

HOPE volunteers, Dr. Harold Timboe and Dr. Larry Ronan witness life, death and birth in Haiti.

When we have their sick and injured--HOPE and Comfort will prevail.

From all across the US they came to the people of Haiti in their time of great need, bringing health and HOPE on behalf of the American people and we found it was our lives that were changed as we witnessed the resiliency of this nation and its people battered by years of poverty and the calamity of this great disaster.

The USNS Comfort has quickly neared capacity and is working closely with the government of Haiti, the UN and USAID to optimize the utilization of its considerable capabilities to the benefit of the sick and injured. Disease outbreaks in the cities and over 500 internal displaced-people camps is being held in check.With each patient comes a human interest story unique to their circumstances--and one died, yet one was saved and one born.

Yesterday, Dr Larry Ronan and I were ashore assisting triage and coordinating transport to the Comfort. Many patients arrive in surge, some necessitating the difficult decision of expectant to die, while others need urgent transfer to have further chance of life. The helicopter arrives, Dr. Ronan ventilating one patient with sepsis from gangrene on the leg, and I attending to a pregnant patient with eclampsia and high fever near term in active labor. As we load the helicopter, the ventilated patient dies, Dr. Ronan and I continue to escort the soon-to-be mother on the flight to the ship for an emergency C-section. This morning mother is rested, safe and happy in good hands and a new life is doing well. One died, and two are now living through the collective efforts of many. HOPE and Comfort prevail.

Dr. Harold Timboe, Project HOPE volunteer

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The World Sees HOPE in Haiti

A Message from HOPE's President and CEO...

With the eyes of the world on Haiti, I have received words of encouragement from several Project HOPE friends from around the globe.

“All the world is shocked by the earthquake in Haiti,” said Dr. Jinfen Liu, President of the Shanghai Children’s Medical Center. Dr. Liu is well acquainted with earthquake relief efforts having directed his hospital’s response to the devastating Sichuan Province earthquake in 2008. From China, he continues to follow HOPE’s relief efforts in Haiti from through

From a colleague in Jordan: “I am confident that HOPE is and will bring hope to thousands of victims and displaced [individuals] in Haiti.” These are the words of Hashem AlFadel, a HOPE volunteer who helped establish the partnership between HOPE and the Shanghai Children’s Medical Center in the 1990s.

Samir Abdullah Hassan, M.D., the Surgeon General of the Iraqi joint forces writes: “…everyone in the world… knows very well how great the U.S. people are. They always sacrifice for other nations…”

And from my good friend, Jaime Morales Carazo, the Vice President of Nicaragua, “This is a terrible tragedy for the poor people of Haiti. Project HOPE has much to contribute to this dramatic, lamentable situation.”

With the support of the world’s leaders, as well as ordinary people making extraordinary contributions, Project HOPE will make a difference for the people of Haiti.

John P. Howe III, M.D.
President and CEO

Friday, January 22, 2010

HOPE Staff Help Haitian Man

Project HOPE staff Matt Peterson and Doug Lane were visiting a hospital in Port-au-Prince to assess the needs of the site. Matt stepped outside to see the surrounding area. Despite surgery taking place outside the facility, with-in feet of the road piles of burning trash still surrounded the area. Matt noticed a man outside in need of aid. His leg was broken, cut and heavily infected and he also suffered from head trauma. Matt approached one of the British doctors working at the site and asked if the man could be brought inside the hospital. The doctor agreed and asked Matt and Doug to find something that could be used as a stretcher. Matt, Doug and a driver carried the man down the street and into the hospital. “When we put him down, he was repeating hallelujah, hallelujah,” Doug said. “When we left he was receiving aid from the very professional British team of doctors.”

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Project HOPE Volunteer Dr. Timboe First Days in Haiti

And Their Faces Were Changed...

From aboard the USNS Comfort in Haiti, it was a very gratifying sight this morning as we made rounds on the wards after yesterday's first day of patient care. Today we were greeted with faces of relief, rest and a beginning sense of safety, security and comfort as our patients began to realize the new world to which they had awoke.

Just the day before, the Comfort had arrived in Haiti’s harbor and the helicopters made their patient pick-ups and transfers to the ship. It was a remarkable, life-changing event for every one of these patients who probably never in their wildest dreams expected to be whisked aboard a helicopter. As they arrived in the casualty receiving area of the Comfort, you could see the drain of life on their faces and in their spirit---a sense of dazed fatigue after several days of nearly unspeakable ordeals resulting in a bewilderment---but Comfort had arrived and now they could rest to renew their life and their spirit.

Since arriving to join the Comfort on Friday, January 15th and setting sail the next morning, I have witnessed the ship and its crew make an amazing transformation as they hurried to help relieve the suffering to our neighbor to the south. The leadership and the entire health care team understood the gravity of their task and the different aspects of the systems that needed to be put in place to ensure a sustained high volume of complex patient care---care to be provided with safety and compassion by a team of healthcare personnel from around the country. The world has come to Haiti, the Comfort has come to Haiti and soon Project HOPE will expand its impact on the people of Haiti with its famous caring and compassion professionalism.

Dr. Harold Timboe, Project HOPE volunteer

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Project HOPE Medicines and Supplies Helping Haitians Now

Report from the Field....

Hope staff members Teresa Navares and Doug Lane traveled with an official delegation to the Haitian/Dominican Republic border town of Jimani to see first hand the Haitian refugees being treated there . The facility and its staff are overwhelmed with patients needing treatment for crush wounds, lacerations, infections and stress related disorders. The clinic sits 50 km’s from Port-au-Prince, and critical patients are being transported by helicopter. A Project HOPE shipment - a 40 foot ocean container filled with medicines and medical supplies valued at $1 million- designated for a clinic in the Dominican Republic arrived in the country just after the earthquake. A quick decision was made to move the antibiotics, analgesics, bandages, antiseptics and other critically needed items from this shipment and give it to the Jimani clinic . As a result Project HOPE donated medicines and medical supplies were delivered to this facility immediately after the earthquake and are saving lives now.

More updates on our earthquake relief efforts in Haiti.

Check back as we continue to document Project HOPE's Earthquake Relief Efforts in Haiti......and please support our work today.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Project HOPE volunteers come through to help Haiti

Dr. Martin Luther King once said "An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity." I cannot help thinking of this quote as I watch the aid and relief continue to pour into Haiti. Yes, there is a lot of work to do and the people of Haiti continue to suffer but we cannot dismiss that the world seems to have risen beyond the confines of their individualistic concerns to address the problems of the people of Haiti.

As the images of Haiti continue to stream in people across the U.S. desperately want to know what they can do to help. All you have to do is take a look at the various social networks to see people are putting together fundraisers, asking their friends to donate, if they can't donate why not lend a hand packing emergency kits etc. Everyone has come together to try to do their part knowing any little bit of help could mean saving the life of someone's child, mother, father, sister or brother.

At Project HOPE we are having the same reactions from our donors, partners, and volunteers. Over the last week we have received thousands of phone calls and emails. Medical professionals from across the U.S. want to know where they can sign-up to volunteer. Over a 1,000 of them are ready to go, all patiently waiting for us to tell them where and when. Every time Project HOPE asks for volunteers these medical professionals come through, leaving the comforts of home, their loved ones, and their jobs, looking beyond their individualistic concerns to do what they can in some of the most trying and sometimes dangerous conditions. Since 1958 many great people have come through our organization to lend a hand and Project HOPE would not be the organization it is now without our volunteers.

In remembrance of the the late Martin Luther King and as a new group awaits its orders to depart for Haiti we would like to thank all our volunteers, partners, and donors for doing their part to address the broader concerns of all humanity.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Possible Volunteer Mission to Haiti

Project HOPE is now recruiting medical volunteers for possilbe mission to Haiti. Apply Now