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Northwestern Medical Response Teams Leave for Haiti

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January 26, 2010

Chicago -

Next wave of clinical volunteers prepare to depart on Jan. 29

The first clinicians from Northwestern departed for Haiti Monday, Jan. 25 as part of a Chicago medical response team partially coordinated by Robert Murphy, MD, director of the Northwestern Center for Global Health at the Feinberg School of Medicine. Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Northwestern University are supplying medical supplies and equipment for the victims. Informally known as the “Chicago Response Team,” three other Chicago-based academic medical centers are part of this effort.

Additional Northwestern healthcare professionals leave for Haiti this weekend and early next week, on Jan. 29, Feb. 1 and Feb. 3. Each group will be on two-week tours. Northwestern Memorial Emergency Room physicians Martin Lucenti, MD and Rahul Khare, MD are among those who volunteered for deployment. Lucenti was among those who left Jan. 25 and Khare leaves Feb. 3.

“I knew in my heart that going to Haiti was simply the right thing to do,” says Khare. “Emergency physicians are trained at wilderness medicine, which is currently the state of Haiti. We can use common appliances to bandage, splint, and reduce overall injury. A disaster, such as the earthquake in Haiti, is what we're trained for.”

Khare explained that the vast majority of the injuries include crush injuries, severe dehydration, shock due to blood loss, and infected wounds. As he explains, many of these injuries can be addressed with basic treatments such as cleaning out the wound, intravenous fluids, stabilization of the fracture with a handmade splint, and antibiotics. However due to the severe deficit of clean water and healthcare workers, simple wounds have compounded into severe medical conditions. Additionally, because most hospitals and clinics have been destroyed, leaving survivors nowhere to go, clinics will need to be made to assist with on-going care for the general population.

As such, as physicians start landing in Haiti, they will setup a healthcare infrastructure in Port-au-Prince, as well as the countryside. Khare estimates that volunteer physicians and nurses will be needed for months, if not years to help stabilize the healthcare infrastructure following such catastrophe. But he is hopeful about worldwide response, “I believe it is being done properly and will save hundreds of thousands of lives,” Khare added.

In its fundraising efforts, hospital employees raised a total of $20,000 for Haiti relief assistance that will be administered by the Northwestern Memorial Foundation. A total of 40 Northwestern clinicians signed up to volunteer their time and personal finances to be a part of the team. This group includes orthopedic surgeons, emergency medicine, anesthesiologists, internal medicine physicians and nurses. Twenty of them speak French, three speak Creole, and 16 have international experience in developing countries.

The Chicago Medical Response team is partnering with International Medical Corps (IMC www.imcworldwide.org) who will be coordinating the physicians’ schedules and logistics while on the ground in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. IM is currently operating an urgent care health facility in Port-au- Prince and needs physicians and nurses.

The Chicago Medical Response team includes: Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, the University of Chicago Medical Center, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine; and Rush University College of Medicine.

If you would like to make a gift to support this trip, please visit http://foundation.nmh.org/HaitianRelief.

Media Contact:

Kris Lathan, Director
Northwestern Memorial Hospital

Last UpdateFebruary 8, 2011