Cook Co. docs return from week in Haiti

February 3, 2010 4:56:00 PM PST
Two doctors from Stroger Hospital in Chicago recently returned from a week in Haiti providing medical care for earthquake victims.The Cook County hospital doctors described their experience in treating victims of the Haiti earthquake.

"You could see bones coming out and people had to be amputated. In fact, some people, we ended up doing eye surgery, amputating the right upper extremity and amputating the other leg on the other side all at one same time," said Dr. Mildred Olivier, ophthalmologist, Stroger Hospital.

"Other people had a stroke, their blood pressure went up after the earthquake and they had a stroke and other people of course had trauma to there are spinal cord, they couldn't move their leg, they were paralyzed," said Dr. Serge Pierre-Louis, neurologist, Stroger Hospital.

Dr. Pierre-Louis's sister, a pediatrician in Haiti, has just left her medical building moments before the earthquake.

"She had just left. She was driving back home when the earthquake came and the four-story building where she was collapsed completely," said Dr. Pierre-Louis.

"There was the smell of infection, the smell of death in the air," said Dr. Olivier.

Dr. Pierre-Louis is Haitian and Dr. Mildred Olivier is the daughter of Haitian parents. They said their cultural background helped to assist other volunteers and doctors in communicating with the population.

"We needed to be a middle, a liaison between the people coming in and the hospital administration," said Dr. Olivier.

The doctors say that it is very difficult being in two places at once. They know they must be in Chicago to treat their patients but their hearts are still in Haiti.

Dr. Olivier has received over 3,000 e-mails asking for help since she has been back.

"I'm still getting emails saying we need more food, we need diapers, we need this, we need that," said Dr. Olivier.

"On the one hand, I feel that I should be there helping. There is still a great need for help, especially in my speciality. At the same time, there are a lot of people here who need help in knowing what to do and how to help Haiti," said Dr. Pierre-Louis.

Both doctors say the Haitian devastation is of epic proportions and people around the world cannot forget the people of Haiti. Both doctors intend to return to Haiti in March and will continue to be involved in fundraising efforts in Chicago.