Local medical teams working at two sites in Haiti

Published: Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 6:26 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 6:26 p.m.

Medical personnel and public health specialists from the University of Florida and Putnam County report they are on the ground and hard at work in two different parts of earthquake-stricken Haiti.



Gators for Haiti at UF game:
* Gators United for Haiti, the University Athletic Association and the UF men's basketball team are raising money for Haitian relief.
* Information, pledge sheets are available at the O'Connell Center, where UF meets South Carolina at 6 p.m. Saturday.
* No donations will be accepted at the game.
* Goal is to raise as much as $50,000, to be matched by the Athletic Association.

Edsel Redden, an Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences extension agent for Putnam County, contacted Tim Queen of FISH Ministries by satellite phone Wednesday. The ministry has supported a Haitian community called Christianville for 20-plus years. Before the earthquake, about 1,400 people per day were being fed at Christianville.

Redden reported that the group and its supplies were ferried into Port-au-Prince early Wednesday from the Dominican Republic.

Orthopedic surgeon David Risch, general surgeon Robert Molsh, UF emergency medicine specialist David Meurer and Shands nurse Cindy Nelly are now at Double Harvest, an agricultural/medical/educational mission close to the airport. Redden said they are putting in 16-hour days seeing a flood of patients. The mission has two functional operating rooms, where Risch performed a dozen amputations on Wednesday.

The remaining team members -- Redden, nurse Sally Bethart, Dean Michael Perri and Slande Celeste of UF's College of Public Health and Health Professions, and Dr. John Gaines -- left Double Harvest to make their way to Gressier, where Christianville is located.

In one of the quirks of fate that has marked the trip, the group was able to rent a car in Port-au-Prince. The team first traveled to Carrefour, where Celeste's mother and grandmother had been missing since the Jan. 12 earthquake.

Redden reported that Celeste was reunited with both women, who were not only alive but uninjured.

Then it was on to Gressier and Christianville, where they were able to sort out the injured who would have to be transported to Double Harvest for treatment. With assistance from the U.S. Army, food assistance has begun in the community, Redden reported.

The team was in the process of leaving Gressier early Thursday morning, said Queen, who serves as the group's contact here at home. He is posting updates on the group's progress online at www.haiti-earthquake-relief.com.

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