Haitian president Rene Preval and first lady Elisabeth Débrosse Delatour meet with Dr. Barth Green, Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Miami, as he brings a team of doctors to help with disaster victims on January 13, 2010 in Port-au-Prince.
While more than two dozen survivors of the catastrophic earthquake have been airlifted to University of Miami/Jackson Memorial's Ryder Trauma Center, about 100 of the school's medical staff are currently on the ground in the devastated country, working around the clock.
“They are performing life-saving acts in a literal war zone with lack of such basic services as blood pressure cuffs, foley catheters and even equipment to chart on patients,” Dr. William O’Neill, executive dean of clinical affairs at UM's Miller School of Medicine reported yesterday after returning from a trip to assess the needs of those working at the Port-au-Prince airport since Wednesday.
A donated private jet flew the team of doctors, nurses, and support staff into Port-au-Prince less than 24 hours after the quake, and then returned Wednesday night with seven injured patients -- and again last night with a group that included a two-month-old baby, escorted by former Heat star Alonzo Mourning.
The Miller School group was the first medical team to arrive in Haiti, and were treating patients "within five minutes" of landing. O'Neill estimates his staff have treated and triaged more than 250 survivors.
"They're sleeping on cots, eating what they can," said associate dean Eduardo de Marchena, "and taking care of as many patients as they can."
The UM doctors were uniquely suited to mobilize after the earthqake. Their leader in Port-au-Prince, Dr. Barth Green, co-founded Project Medishare, a health services and infrastructure initiative in communities throughout the central plateau of Haiti, including a physicians training program. Project Medishare had staff already in the country, contacts in the capital, and what fellow co-founder Dr. Arthur Fournier called a "moral imperative" to respond.
"Because of our longstanding engagement in Haiti..." Fournier said, "we have infrastructure and working relationships in place that make our response effective."
The original team has since been joined by additional UM doctors, nurses, medical supplies, and equipment. There is no shortage of willing and able bodies to replace them when necessary: by Friday morning, a list of Miller School personnel volunteering to fly to Haiti had grown to over 300.