Omaha Public Radio News
8:20 am
Fri April 16, 2010

Creighton and UNMC doctors reflect on their medical missions to Haiti

Omaha, NE – Doctors from Creighton University Medical Center and UNMC hope to have a long-term presence in Haiti.

It was more than three months ago that a magnitude seven earthquake devastated Haiti, killing more than 200,000 people. Doctors from CUMC and UNMC talked about their medical missions to Haiti during the Omaha Press Club's monthly noon forum Thursday.

Doctor Brian Loggie, CUMC surgeon and leader of the hospital's first medical mission to Haiti: Among the challenges they faced were a lack of resources to properly diagnose and treat the wounded. "For example, the majority of the traumas we saw were orthopedic in nature, a lot of open fractures, they required amputations and things like that did not require x-rays, and we did not have x-rays. And then after that phase was done we had an enormous number of patients with fractures who got pinned and whatnot, again without x-rays. So it wasn't optimal."

UNMC anesthesiologist Dr. Oluyemisi Odugbesan: the mission created new relationships between the medical center and Haitian doctors. "I do know that the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, who also happens to be from Haiti, has gone to Washington and has the U-N on board in terms of how do we continue in the medical education of the medical students and the nursing students who are left, how do we ensure that those people become physicians and are able to treat the population of Haiti while we're there."

Dr. Tommy Lee, CUMC surgeon: a lack of resources and organization hindered medical efforts at the start. "We did have a language issue as well. The way we broke down was mostly the day shift was English speaking and most of the night staff were mostly Spanish speaking. Even then, when you're trying to hand things over from one team to another and you don't speak the same language, you don't speak it fluently, it can be a little bit difficult sometimes and it just adds to the challenge of getting things done."

Doctor Alan Richards, surgeon, UNMC: there was a lot of cooperation among the doctors working at the Medishare Hospital, set up at the Port-au-Prince airport. "There were doctors from, just to give you an idea, from Argentina, from Brazil, from India, from Israel, from Spain, Norway, Switzerland, England, South Africa, United States, Canada, so it was huge, like the United Nations of doctors there. And they weren't very territorial, in fact they were very friendly to each other."

Both hospitals hope to send additional medical personnel to Haiti in the coming months.

You can hear the Omaha Press Club noon forum in its entirety May 10 on KIOS-FM.