Team of Chicago doctors to treat Haitian patients

January 24, 2010 8:39:03 PM PST
Haiti's government confirms at least 150,000 people died in that country's devastating earthquake.A 15-member team of doctors heads to the Dominican Republic Monday for a new relief mission. Their mission is to give Haitians medical care in a small town on the border with Haiti.

Packing up Sunday night were pediatricians, nurses, orthopedists, anesthesiologists and others from Rush University Medical Center who are volunteering to help.

Among the group is Dr. Myriame Casmir, who is Haitian-American.

"It's very painful because I'm from ther, and it's more of a personal and professional mission because these are my people, and they need us," Casmir said.

Allowing Haitian-Americans and native Haitians to help in the recovery and rebuilding process is what this group of ministers and Chicago-based Haitian groups are calling for. Besides collecting supplies and money, the newly formed Chicago Churches United for Haiti says they want the U.S. government to know that Haitians can help themselves.

"In terms of jobs there in Haiti, we recognize they have a right to be apart of the destiny of the third phase, which is rebuilding," said Rev. Stephen Thurston.

Making sure Haitians are on their team is a priority for the doctors from the University of Chicago Medical Center who will be volunteering in Haiti.

Doctors Theodosis and Chrissy Babcock have spent the past week putting together a huge data base of medical professionals from four of Chicago's academic hospitals that are willing to help in Haiti.

"I certainly know when we went through our lists, the folks that were Haitian were on the top of the list," said Dr. Christian Theodosis of the University of Chicago Medical Center.

Theodosis and Babcock coordinated with teams on the ground in Haiti to assess exactly what the need was before sending a team.

"And as we gather more information from the ground, we will tailor our teams to be exactly what the ground is looking for," said Babcock, also of the Univ. of Chicago Medical Center.

Five Univ. of Chicago medical professionals, including two Haitian nurses will leave Monday for the border site.

Another team leaves at the end of the week to go to Port-au-Prince.

Theodosis and Babcock say the plan is to rotate medical staff in and out for many months ahead, depending on the need.