The New York metropolitan area, particularly those neighborhoods served by The Brooklyn Hospital Center, has the second largest population of Haitians in America. So when a 7.3 earthquake struck Haiti this January, the reverberations were felt here strongly. As a recent poll indicated, three-fifths of all Haitian Americans had either lost a loved one or had a loved one that had been injured or made homeless by the tragedy.
TBHC responded quickly. Less than 48 hours after the earthquake, Drs. Valerie Brutus, Stephen S. Carryl and Louisdon Pierre flew to Haiti to perform emergency surgeries on disaster victims at the Adventist Hospital in Port-au-Prince’s Diquini neighborhood.
They worked heroically in the face of impossible conditions. According to Dr. Carryl, The Brooklyn Hospital Center’s chief of surgery, “The earthquake rattled the hospital’s foundation so we had to treat some patients on the courtyard. Beds had to be set up on concrete walkways, gravel roads and even bare earth where many patients had to spend that first weekend.”
Struggling with more than just a lack of operating rooms, the surgeons had to perform amputations and other procedures with substandard equipment, often without sufficient sedation or anesthesia.
But despite all this they were able to perform numerous life-saving and limb-saving procedures, including many on young children. “We’re proud of the care we were able to provide, but the more we accomplished the more we realized how much still needs to be done,” said Dr. Pierre, a specialist in pediatric and critical care medicine, referring to the ongoing need for basic wound care, skin grafts, physical and occupational rehabilitation, and trauma therapy.
Dr. Carryl and other TBHC medical personnel will be returning to Haiti in the coming weeks, this time bringing more medical equipment including a prosthetics maker.
“We will continue reaching out to the victims of Haiti for the weeks and months to come,” said Richard M. Becker, MD, president and CEO of The Brooklyn Hospital Center. “Our physicians and staff were among the first to arrive in Haiti and we continue to provide assistance in every way possible.”
If you are Haitian and in need of support….
The Haitian Family Resource Center (Bedford Armory, 1579 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn
Center) is a one-stop resource center for families impacted by the earthquake. The Center offers Creole speaking translation services, immigration assistance, and helps with completing immigration applications, child guardianship and custody services, legal assistance, locating family members, mental health services, coordination of volunteer efforts and daily briefings on the status of the relief effort.
The Center is operated jointly by the New York State Emergency Management Office (SEMO) and NYC Office of Emergency Management. The Human Services Committee of the Disaster Preparedness Commission staffs the Center along with the Office of Temporary Disability Assistance (OTDA) Bureau of Refugee Affairs. OTDA member Jocelyn Mayas, who speaks Creole, is detailed to the Center.
List of Haiti support organizations, courtesy the Haitian Consulate in New York:
· Caribbean Women’s Health Association 718.826.2942
· Community Healthcare Network – Caribbean House Health Center 718.778.0198
· Haitian Centers Council 718.940.5200
· Flatbush Haitian Center (75 Erasmus Street) 718.856.6114
· Flatbush Haitian Center (2211 Church Avenue) 718.693.5700
· NY State Psychological Association via its Disaster Response Network provides up to three pro bono sessions for certain cases for disaster related events (e.g. Haiti). Inquire via email DisasterRelief@nyspa.org
· On NYSPA.org there's a special Haiti section on the top right (click through) and there's a growing list of resources for the public and professionals of Haiti related/mental health related info.