News

1.29.2010

Dr. Barth Green to Dedicate the Miller School’s Hospital in Haiti and Plan for Reconstruction

Barth Green, M.D., was expected to return to Haiti early Saturday with former U.S. Army General Wesley Clark, famed Miami architect Andres Duany and retired Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning to officially dedicate the Miller School’s hospital for earthquake survivors.

On the edge of the Port-au-Prince airport, the 240-bed hospital began accepting critically injured patients a week ago. On Friday, the staff, consisting of volunteers from the University family and beyond, was caring for 168 survivors, 66 of them children.

Green, professor and chair of neurological surgery, said at the Friday briefing of the Global Institute’s Haiti Relief Task Force, that his entourage also would meet with some of Haiti’s key business leaders and American military leaders to discuss a blueprint for reconstructing the shattered nation.

For example, Duany, who with wife Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, dean of UM’s School of Architecture, founded the new urbanism movement, has developed a temporary, light-weight and expandable “core house” that could shelter some of the countless Haitians left homeless after the Jan. 12 cataclysm.

However, the mounting medical needs of earthquake survivors remains the Miller School’s top priority, and this week volunteers with UM’s medical team began deploying for five days at a time to assure continuity of care. By mid-February, volunteers may be asked to stay at least a week.

The longer deployments come as the task force, the tireless cadre of doctors, administrators, staff and volunteers who are working non-stop to coordinate the massive medical mission, settle in for the long haul. On Friday, Green and other task force members indicated a pressing need for skilled administrators who can oversee day-to-day administrative functions at the hospital over the long-term.

“We need people who can stay here for months, not days or a week,” said Green, who co-founded Project Medishare to improve health care access in Haiti after a medical mission to the impoverished country in 1994. “That’s really what we need.”

Though security at the four-tent hospital compound remains an issue, recently arriving volunteers are beginning to find growing signs of order and routine amid the chaos that accompanies all large-scale disasters. For example, doctors, nurses, patients, their families and other volunteers are now receiving three hot meals a day, thanks to local vendors who deliver breakfast, lunch and dinner to the camp.

That’s a noticeable improvement over the power bars, peanut butter and crackers the first waves of volunteers subsisted on. Still, Rafael Campo, M.D., medical director of employee health and infection control, is urging UM volunteers to choose the military’s MREs, or Meals-Ready-to Eat, over local food to avoid intestinal distress.

In addition to health care professionals, especially Creole-speaking nurses, who can assist in Haiti, raising money for the Global Institute to support the University’s doctors, nurses and students in Haiti remains a priority. You may make an online donation directly to the Global Institute or send a check made out to the “University of Miami-Global Institute” to P.O. Box 248073, Coral Gables, Florida, 33124.

If you are willing and able to assist in Haiti and have not yet submitted your volunteer contact information, please fill out the volunteer sign-up form. If you already have submitted your volunteer contact information, there is no need to take further action.

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