San Diego relief workers now focused on follow-up care


Volunteers with the San Diego-based International Relief Teams fanned out across Haiti this weekend, joining other medical workers in the earthquake-ravaged nation.

The five IRT members, who left for Haiti a week ago, spent most of their time in the capital of Port-au-Prince before heading to outlying communities like Carrefour, Petit Goave and Jacmel, according to a statement from the organization.

Residents of those towns are in need of food, medical supplies and temporary shelter.

“The Haitians are wonderful people — women and families taking care of orphans and their newly handicapped family members,’’ said Dr. Colleen Buono. “They wash, feed and take great care of each other under our makeshift shelters of sheets and tarps.”

Dr. Christian Sloane said physicians have moved from treating new injuries to providing follow-up care for people who have had amputations or infected wounds.

“We are working in austere conditions — no running water, no electricity (for most of the week) and it is hot,” Sloane said.

The doctors, both emergency medical physicians affiliated with UCSD Medical Center, said Haitians are reluctant to enter buildings and are rattle by aftershocks.

An aftershock of 4.7 struck the region today, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The IRT has donated $118,000 worth of medical supplies to earthquake relief efforts and are preparing a shipment of medical supplies, tents and food.

World Emergency Relief/Rescue Task Force, based in Carlsbad, also has a team of volunteers in Haiti, helping to restore infrastructure and utility services.

They also delivered 400 doses of calcium chloride, which is used to treat crush injuries, and supplies to Good Samaritan School, which is feeding 2,000 people daily.

“We are treating 100 to 150 patients per day in addition to ensuring security for the compound (where they’re working),” said WEF/RTF team leader Darryl Hall. “We are also actively engaged working on the sanitation, latrine requirements for the compound. Demands change continually as needs arise.”

Hall said more food and water is reaching the needy, but its dangerous to travel at night because desperation is growing.

La Jolla physician Nathan Watson, who is also in Haiti, wrote in an e-mail to the Light Sunday night: “We have finished our first week on our relief mission to Port-Au-Prince in Haiti and there is already a lot of improvement here. Our team from
 Imperial and San Diego counties has already had a big impact at the largest hospital in PaP, Haiti University Hospital, in addition to doing volunteer work in clinics several hours drive away from the capital. Haitians are strong and they are recovering.”

Personnel from Navy Hospital San Diego are serving aboard two hospital ships off the Caribbean nation.