Pediatric Associates News

Haiti Medical Trips

October 01, 2012

Like all of us at PANW, the doctors who’ve travelled to treat the people of Haiti strongly believe that health care should be available to all. It’s not a luxury, but a basic human right, like adequate food, clean water, and shelter. We’re drawn to Haiti because of the undeniable, overwhelming needs of this underdeveloped country, and our desires to make a meaningful difference in the world.

During the last visit in April, the Medical Team treated 685 patients in five days. Some of those travelled, by foot, two or three days to get to the clinic. They learn of the dates of care through announcements made at school, and word travels quickly through the townships.

“One of the most gratifying parts of being in Haiti is how incredibly thankful the Haitians are for even the most basic of care. It’s very humbling,” says Dr. Mari Kay Evans-Smith, who’s travelled to Haiti four times in the last three years. “I wish we could do more for them, though, like help them build a hospital, which is a goal of Mountain Top Ministries, the organization that our team works with. A hospital would be transformative for the village of Gramothe.”

Dr. Buerk examines child

Each of the providers who’ve been to Haiti come back with memorable experiences, some of them life-changing, or practice-changing. Dr. Whitney Casares recalls one moment with a female patient who’d been trying to get pregnant for a long time. “Her face lit up and she squeezed my hand when she heard the “whoosh whoosh” on our Doppler machine.

She adds, “Practicing medicine is a lot different here versus there. Their needs are different. So, professionally, it doesn’t change the way I approach problems here or help me recognize more diseases. It does, though, add to your compassion for others who have less than you do. It makes you strive even more to treat every person you see in the office with as much love and care as possible.”

Like Dr. Evans-Smith, Dr. Casares wishes she could do more, “It’s a great experience to be there. I would like to do a lot more education with the people of Haiti, though.”

Dr. Casares works with Haitian infant

Liz McElhinny, R.N, was reminded of the joy that comes with helping others – and why she chose her profession. “The trip to Haiti reminded me how much I enjoy working directly with patients.” She was also struck by how much less the Haitian people have. “Personally, I am much more aware of how much waste we have in the US and how much less we could make do with.. No one drove a car to the clinic. They walked up steep mountainous dirt roads, for hours. Haiti has very poor sanitation and limited water, most of the water is contaminated. I learned firsthand how little water it takes to bathe, how much we take for granted clean water in the US, how it affects every area of daily life. People carry water uphill for their drinking and cooking needs, wash in the same river that sewage drains into.”

These very conditions contribute to some of the health issues the Medical Team treated. This is why the team brought with them kits to give away which included basic items like soap, washcloths and toothbrushes.

Glenn Weybright

For a glimpse at a day in the life of a Medical Team in Haiti, click here.

The Haiti Medical Team and all of us at Pediatric Associates of the Northwest would like to thank you, our patients and local community, for being part of this important work. Your generosity and kindness (along with your donations of toothbrushes and vitamins!) are sincerely appreciated….by us, and by the people of Haiti.

Thank you.