In conjunction with Doctors United for Haiti and Save the Children, physicians from NYIT's College of Osteopathic Medicine and Center for Global Health are visiting the Republic of Haiti from Jan. 20 to 27 to explore future educational opportunities for NYIT students interested in learning about global health. The team will also work with local health providers in Haiti to provide clinical services and onsite medical training.
Updates from Haiti
Jan. 27, 2012
NYIT's Center for Global Health completed the week with a stop at Save the Children's office in Port au Prince, where its Haiti country director, Gary Shaye (pictured second from left), shared his thoughts with Drs. Edward Gotfried, William Blazey, Michael Passafaro, and Deborah Lardner. They discussed the challenges of bringing health education and relief to the people of Haiti.
"Every NGO is scrambling for funds," said Shaye. The fact that many organizations providing relief have been forced to cut back on efforts due to economic constraints, he adds, is particularly gut-wrenching considering their humanitarian goals. "The agencies that do the best in Haiti are the ones that are the most focused."
The NYIT doctors also bid farewell to their colleague, Dr. Richmond Jean-Baptiste (pictured with Dr. Gotfried), in Limbe earlier in the day on Jan. 26. Today, they will depart Haiti to return to New York.
"This week, we had several objectives," says Dr. Gotfried. "That included exploring possible sites for students to learn about global health, making contacts with local physicians to support medical education, and coordinating with Save the Children to pursue additional partnerships for NYIT. And, most importantly, we saved lives on this mission."
Osteopathic doctors from NYIT's Center for Global Health are working today at the Hospital St. Raphael in Limbe, Haiti, where they've been treating patients, training local medical professionals, and assessing the facility since Jan. 23. The hospital was personally financed by local Limbe doctor Richmond Jean-Baptiste and is still under construction.
On Jan. 23-24, the team saw more than 100 patients with ailments ranging from typhoid to high blood pressure to arthritis. In many cases, NYIT's doctors had the opportunity to apply osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM) techniques.
"What's great about OMM is that it's a non-pharmacological way of treating people," says team member Deborah Lardner, assistant professor of emergency medicine at NYIT's College of Osteopathic Medicine. "That's a huge advantage in a country with poor resources and high levels of poverty."
In addition, the team spent time on both days visiting nearby sites in Haiti, where Dr. Jean-Baptiste highlighted some of the serious health and economic issues plaguing the region. They also interacted with students from a local secondary school to see firsthand the educational efforts of Limbe residents to improve their community.
After today's hospital work, the team will take a 22-minute domestic flight back to Port au Prince to coordinate work with Save the Children.
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A young patient tests positive for typhoid. The white dots indicate granulations in the blood signifying its presence.
Jan. 23, 2012
Dr. Mike Passafaro of NYIT's Center for Global Health treats patients at Hospital St. Raphael in Limbe, Haiti.
NYIT doctors in Haiti visited a high school in Limbe, Haiti, this morning. Later they will treat patients at nearby Hospital St. Raphael.
Jan. 21, 2012
On Jan. 21, members of NYIT’s Center for Global Health traveled from Port au Prince, Haiti, to Peredo in the country’s southern region. While in Peredo, the team coordinated with Doctors United For Haiti and its founder, Sidney Coupet, to inspect a community hospital scheduled to open in March 2012. The facility is headed by Pastor “Roro,” who holds a certain celebrity status throughout this area of Haiti and is the founder of several faith-based initiatives.
While staying at the hospital’s nearby shelters, a local woman brought in her husband, whose injured right leg had become infected after being left untreated for two weeks. With no power yet in the facility, Drs. Passafaro, Lardner, and Blazey worked under a constellation of handheld flashlights, head lamps, and iPhone light apps to remove the infected tissue and administer treatment (see photo).
The team followed up with the husband and wife the next morning at their home, where NYIT physicians instructed the wife on how to properly complete a dressing change for the wound. Afterward, the team hopped a 22-minute flight aboard a Tortug’Air twin propeller plane from Port au Prince International Airport to travel to Cap-Haitien in the northern region.
The team plans to spend the next few days working with local doctor Richmond Jean-Baptiste to assess and administer medical support to residents in the Limbe area about an hour’s drive from Cap-Haitien.
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Jan. 20, 2012
Sitting at Gate 8 of JFK International Airport’s American Airlines terminal, NYCOM Assistant Professor William Blazey (D.O. ‘05) tries to rectify an incongruence he sees whenever he meets a Haitian patient.
“I don’t see all the negativity,” he says, adjusting his knapsack as he prepares for another journey on behalf of NYIT’s Center for Global Health.
The NYCOM graduate refers specifically to the dozens of Haitian families whose homeland has been devastated by natural and manmade catastrophes spanning centuries. And yet the patients who visit him at NYIT-Old Westbury’s medical facilities smile and thank him warmly after each visit, with no indication that the calamities they’ve suffered have in any way dampened their spirits.
For all of the hardships their country has endured throughout its history, from slaughter at the hands of European colonists in the early 16th century to a devastating earthquake in January 2010 that killed 220,000, it seems the Haitian people have never let disaster get in the way of their ability to smile and to laugh, to share and to help, to live and to hope.
Blazey travels as part of a team of NYCOM professors, which includes osteopathic doctors Deborah Lardner, Michael Passafaro, and the center’s director, Ed Gotfried, guided by a mission to bring aid to a country besieged by health problems, which now includes a nationwide cholera epidemic that has spread rapidly since 2011.
It’s a multicultural mission, adds Gotfried, that syncs perfectly with NYIT’s own diverse academic curriculum and global efforts. The group plans to spend Jan. 20-27 visiting various sites in Haiti to treat patients, ascertain potential educational opportunities for NYIT students, and bring their own 21st century medical skills to train and improve the quality of health care to the millions of poor still living in tent cities that dot the landscape surrounding areas such as Port au Prince.
For Passafaro, the journey is an opportunity to assess the progress of Haiti’s reconstruction following the January 2010 quake. He served as part of a team of doctors sent two months after the disaster in conjunction with the Denver-based NGO, International Medical Relief.
“It’ll be interesting to see what they’ve done,” he says. “With such a poor country and limited resources, it’s not easy to bounce back.”
In March 2010, Passafaro worked 10 days in a makeshift ER comprised of three 10’ x 20’ tents. He recalls seeing more than 140 patients in one day.
“There were so many dead,” he says. “And because the Haitian people are very religious, the concept of mass graves is almost heresy.” Nevertheless, such steps were necessary to thwart the spread of disease.
One tragic scenario that occurred all too frequently was diagnosing patients for serious illnesses and conditions that were easily treatable back home.
“When I came back, I realized how fortunate we are to have well-structured medical resources in the United States,” says Passafaro. “But you also notice the waste of resources in the U.S. medical system that Haiti can only dream of.”
For this trip, NYIT is working in conjunction with Doctors United for Haiti, an international organization dedicated to bringing new opportunities for health and education to families and communities reeling from poverty and poor nutrition, a major problem even before January 2010.
“Education is the way this country will get better,” says Gotfried. “We’re not saviors but rather helping to build the foundation of an educational system.”