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Sister Catherine Arnoldy, SNDdeN

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Concert for Haiti relief

At CRS camp, 50,000 find help and hope

No sleep, little aid: Salesian nun pleads for more help for Haitians

Food cards required for quake victims

Coping with care of quake victims

Haitian bishop: build anew based on justice

placeholder February 8, 2010   •   VOL. 48, NO. 3   •   Oakland, CA
Coping with care of quake victims

MILOT, Haiti (CNS) — When the earthquake shook Port-au-Prince, the three Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace began to prepare the 73-bed Sacred Heart Hospital in the northern city of Milot.

The influx of critically injured patients has been more than they ever imagined. The hospital has opened additional wards in a nearby school and nutrition center and converted a local soccer field into a heliport to receive critically wounded patients, who were unable to get adequate treatment for injuries such as broken bones, burns and infections in the Haitian capital.

Mikhaila Moynihan, 15, and Gacques Sandra Dorceus, 16, sing and pray with patient Delisena Dorelien, outside St. Francis de Sales Hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Feb. 2. The teens, students from a nearby Catholic school, were visiting patients injured in the Jan. 12 earthquake that destroyed 70 percent of the hospital. Catholic Relief Services is working with the facility’s administrator to restore patient care.
CNS PHOTO/BOB ROLLER

By the end of January, the patient count had topped 300, and Irish Sister Ann Crawley said that number was expected to grow.

“All of this has happened so quickly,” Sister Ann said after putting in a 14-hour day at the hospital.

The demand on Sacred Heart Hospital staff highlights the medical emergency in Haiti. Many hospitals in Port-au-Prince were damaged or destroyed, and many doctors and nurses were killed in the magnitude 7 earthquake Jan. 12.

Sacred Heart Hospital was founded as a 16-bed facility by the Montreal province of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart in 1968 and is now operated by the Center for the Rural Development of Milot — which receives funding from the Order of Malta. It has grown to become the leading medical facility in northern Haiti.

The facility is so well regarded that it receives overflow patients from the medical ship, USNS Comfort, said Dr. David Butler, director of the earthquake response at Sacred Heart and vice president of the board of directors of the U.S.-based foundation for the Milot rural development center.

“Anyone here is very lucky to be treated here,” said Butler, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck, N.J.

“Many of the people here would (otherwise) be in field hospitals” or other less-than-ideal situations, he added. “We’ve had people brought here that were in a Port-au-Prince sewer plant.”

Challenges persist at the hospital, which is staffed by both Haitian and foreign medical personnel and served by visiting chaplaincy teams.

Butler said some conditions have worsened due to a lack of specialized equipment or inadequate prior treatment. One patient, for example, developed serious complications from a tetanus infection. Another young patient ultimately succumbed to diabetic acidosis because the Milot hospital lacked a ventilator to help him breathe.

But the foreign medical personnel in Milot — many of whom are sleeping on the kitchen floor of the convent — speak of heartening moments, too, and express an admiration for the courage and pleasant demeanor of their Haitian patients.

 
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