By Margaret Aguirre
LatinaLista — Margaret Aguirre is the Director of Global Communications for the 26-year-old, California-based International Medical Corps (IMC). IMC goes anywhere in the world it’s needed to save lives and improve the quality of life through health interventions performed by volunteer doctors and nurses.
Ever since January 12, 2010 when the 7.0 earthquake devastated Haiti and rocked the conscience of the world, IMC has been at Ground Zero in Haiti delivering urgent medical services, training local medical students and laying the foundation for the second part of their mission: “From relief to self-reliance.”
IMC’s mission, unlike other relief agencies that treat the injured and then leave, stays for the long haul and helps to rehabilitate devastated health care systems. IMC volunteers teach life-saving skills to the local people so they can become self-reliant while it assures that the new level of care continues for those impacted by tragedy.
Margaret Aguirre has been in Haiti since January 13, along with IMC’s volunteers. A week ago, IMC sent an urgent plea to Latina Lista that they were in need of more donations to keep their doctors and nurses supplied with everything they needed to provide quality care for the Haitian injured.
In the following post, special to Latina Lista, Aguirre outlines what she has seen so far in Haiti, what IMC has accomplished and how great is still the need.
Five-year-old Megine was in her home with her mother, Marie, when the earthquake hit. Before they could escape, their home collapsed around them, trapping them in the rubble.
Marie was soon rescued, but no one could find Megine. She was taken to the General Hospital in downtown Port-au-Prince where she received care from International Medical Corps. “I was sick to my stomach the entire time,” says Marie, who feared her daughter was dead.
Two days later, Megine was found alive beneath the scraps of her house.
Her mother and father brought Megine to the General Hospital where Marie had received care just days earlier. “I was so happy to see my daughter alive,” says Marie.
Megine is just one of the thousands of people in Haiti who have been helped by International Medical Corps since the devastating 7.0 earthquake that hit Haiti on January 12.
Marie stays by her daughter Megine’s side as she is cared by IMC volunteers.
International Medical Corps’ Emergency Response Team was on the ground in Port-Au-Prince 23 hours after the earthquake, providing critical medical care and assistance to survivors.
Most of the city’s hospitals were either destroyed or unusable; many local doctors and medical workers were either missing or searching for their own family members. Our team began working out of the General Hospital (Hopital De’l Universite d’etat d’Haiti), a 700-bed hospital that is barely functioning, where we still are today.
Since then, International Medical Corps doctors and nurses have been performing 30-50 surgeries at the General Hospital daily, and the inflow of patients remains relatively constant. We worked with other NGOs to establish an emergency surgery facility. Amputations, as well as broken bones and fractures, have been some of the major medical needs we are seeing.
Outside the capital, International Medical Corps mobile medical units are now providing medical services and distributing supplies to underserved areas outside the capital, including Petit-Goave, Grande Goave, Petionville, Boloise, Carrefour, Jacmal, Gressier, Miragoane, and Leogone, the epicenter of the deadly earthquake.
Tetanus is also a major concern. To prevent future cases, our team is leading a tetanus immunization program on the hospital campus. We have already vaccinated more than 300 people. We have also recruited a team of Haitian medical students to help and are training them to provide basic first aid and assist with more advanced care.
Lives like Megine’s are being saved daily. But there is much more that needs to be done to help Haiti recover and emerge stronger than before.
International Medical Corps is committed to working with the Haitian people to help rebuild their infrastructure and train a new generation of medical workers.
But we need help.
You can help International Medical Corps save lives and build healthier futures in Haiti. Please text HAITI to 85944 to donate $10 or visit our website to donate online — and please spread the word that there are many people in Haiti who still need help.
Another IMC story from Haiti