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Adventist HealthCare Staff Aid Haiti Earthquake Victims

By Robin Peter and Andra Henning

A team of rehabilitation experts from Adventist HealthCare’s Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital of Maryland spent a week in earthquake-ravished Haiti to provide rehabilitation care to patients with amputations, spinal cord injuries and orthopedic injuries from January’s earthquake. The team arrived in Port-au-Prince ready to provide care for a week at the capital’s MediShare Project 500-bed tent hospital just outside the airport.

The experienced and skilled team of medical volunteers from Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital included physical and occupational therapists, registered nurses, radiologists and other professionals. Also part of the eight-member team was Matchelle Bristol, admissions manager for Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital and a member of the fledgling Havre de Grace church in Rockville, Md. (not yet affiliated with a conference).

Terrence Sheehan, MD, chief medical officer, assembled the team to provide rehabilitation therapy in response to the many earthquake survivors with spinal cord injuries, amputations and other wounds who needed rehabilitation services.

The rehab team worked and slept at the Project MediShare University of Miami Hospital and was surprised to see how many patients were being treated—more than 200 at any given time. Several team members also marveled at the spiritual atmosphere in Haiti. Two team members led patients in singing a hymn in Creole, the native language, which started a nightly worship service with a local minister and Haitian volunteers. Singing hymns offered a calming and uplifting activity for patients, family members and the team.

“I wanted to do something to help and this was the perfect opportunity to help my people,” comments Bristol, who is a native Haitian. “It was hard to see the devastation and, because I understand the language, I felt what they were feeling. It was very rewarding.”

Other team members called their visit “transformative” and “worthwhile.” Many want to return to help in the near future.

To read team members’ trip diaries and see photos, visit Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital of Maryland’s Facebook page at facebook.com/AdventistRehab. For more information on the hospital, go to adventisthealthcare.com/ARHM.