Omaha Public Radio News
11:21 am
Wed January 12, 2011

UNMC doctor reflects on medical missions following Haiti earthquake

Omaha, NE – It was one year ago Wednesday that a major earthquake devastated Haiti, killing 200,000 people.

Medical teams from Creighton University Medical Center and UNMC went to Haiti to provide care and perform surgeries after the quake. UNMC Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Dr. Rubens Pamies made several visits to Haiti, his home country, over the past year on medical missions.

Dr. Pamies says the nation still lacks permanent infrastructure one year later. "What hasn't been done is to develop a coordinated effort on how we're going to rebuild and replace some of those houses that were destroyed and put these people living in these tents into some form of housing that is more permanent for them."

He says medical teams were inspired by the hope and resilience of the Haitian people, in spite of all the setbacks in the past year. "They had the earthquake, followed by weather and hurricane-like weather systems, and then they had the epidemics. They've had problems with elections, they've just had one series of problems after another despite the fact that to begin with, they weren't even ready for the earthquake because of the infrastructure."

Dr. Pamies and medical team volunteers collaborated on a book, called "Help and Hope for Haiti." The book serves as both a history of Haiti and an account of volunteers' experiences while on medical missions.