By Fred J. McGlynn, MD
The Salva Vida Medical Foundation is devoted to saving lives through mission trips to impoverished countries. I am a co-founder of Salva Vida. This organization has sent many medical teams to Haiti since the January 2010 earthquake that injured over 300,000 people and left over 1.5 million homeless.
I’ve traveled to Haiti numerous times since this earthquake, most recently in January with a medical team of 15. Here are my reflections from this trip:
We had a memorable visit to Jacmel, Haiti. The misery, devastation, poverty, poor sanitary conditions, and lack of basic health care were obvious. The people were resilient and amazingly faithful. We were humbled with the dedication and compassion of the Haitian healthcare workers that continue to provide care with limited resources. During this trip, I saw over 50 patients and performed 30 operations.
The problems facing Haiti will continue for many years. Health care needs to be coordinated with the Haitian doctors, nurses, midwives, and rehab specialists. They will continue to need medications, supplies, and surgical equipment and will need assistance in the re-building of clinics and hospitals throughout Haiti.
Our trip was not about how many patients we saw in clinics, numbers of surgeries, or our egos—but about empathy and love for thy neighbor. “Men anpil chey pa lou” –is a Haitian proverb that means: “Many hands lighten the load.” We feel we have made some order of the chaos during our visit and look forward to lighten some more of the load when we return.