Haitian Doctors: Let Us Help Our People

Haitian doctors in South Florida say they can't get to Haiti to help

SoundDiego LIVE Music Box 3.24.16 Vito Di Stefano (125)
Vito Di Stefano

With over 200 Haitian doctors in South Florida, it's hard to understand why so many are still in town and not in Haiti.

The reason is simple, some of them say: They can't leave.

"I have a list of more than a hundred Haitian physicians who are volunteering, ready to go at a moment's notice if they were provided with the logistical support to do so," Dr. Herold Merisier said. "I would describe it as probably the worst nightmare you could imagine."

Americans, Israelis, Canadians, Russians, Spanish, and the French have all set up field hospitals in or near Port-au-Prince, saving lives and providing crucial emergency services, while Haitian docs cool their heels only a few hundred miles away from their brothers and sisters.

Their personal knowledge of the culture and basic skill of speaking Creole would be an asset in the relief effort, if only they could get there.

Merisier, who heads the local chapter of the Association of Haitian Physicians Abroad, said there just hasn't been enough room on the few available flights to Haiti to take the doctors who want to go, and once on the ground, there's no way to get them to the places where they can help the most.

There's a gaping need for logistical coordination of medical services in Haiti, said Merisier, who went to Port-au-Prince over the weekend with UM's Project Medishare to assess the medical needs.

He's quick to praise Project Medishare's efforts, but wishes there was more room to include the area's many Haitian doctors who want to help. 

The UM doctors say Haiti has a pressing need for more doctors and nurses, along with basic supplies like pain killers, antibiotics, sutures, and sterilization equipment. They encourage donations to Doctors without Borders.

"We have to go, we have to go and be there for those who can no longer help themselves," said Dr. Ron Joseph, a Haitian radiologist at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale

Joseph said his family and friends in Haiti are stunned by the scope of the disaster.

"They're sad, scared, and they don't see the light at the end of the tunnel," Joseph said. 

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