Physicians from Boston, New York and New Jersey Spring into Action during a Goodwill Mission to Haiti
March 31 , 2005


Team visited Hôpital Albert Schweitzer to improve trauma care

Boston, New York and New Jersey physicians teamed up with a YMCA social worker on a goodwill mission to provide emergency medical services and educate medical staff at Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti in Deschapelles.

The team, led by Thea James, MD, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at the Boston Medical Center and Sandra Scott, MD of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, spent 11 days at the hospital March 14-25, 2005 and offered twice daily instruction in the use of ultrasound, including the new FAST scan, a 4-point scan used to detect the presence or absence of fluid which helps to determine if the patient requires emergent laporatomy.

The portable ultrasound equipment which the team took to Haiti was put to immediate use their first day in the hospital for an accident victim who presented with severe head trauma, and for whom the team wanted to rule out internal bleeding. “The hospital has been challenged by the increase in serious trauma patients,” Dr. James said. “We wanted to offer our medical experience so that the hospital can optimize their trauma care.”

Joining the team from the Boston University Medical Center were Laura Eliseo, MD, Director of ER Resident Research Supriya Mehta, PhD, and Ronald Belfort, a native of Caye, Haiti who served as the team's interpreter; Marie-Carmelle Elie, MD, of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey; Andrew Liteplo, MD, of Kings County Hospital Center in Brooklyn New York; Zola Bruce, MSW, of the McBurney YMCA in Manhattan, New York.


Trauma Team in action at HAS March 16, 2005.

Photos by Karl Grobl

“I am hopelessly addicted to HAS because Haiti 's alluring simplicity invites the soul to give,” said Dr. Thea James. “This enriching cultural exchange that HAS creates has transformed the way I practice medicine and, by extension, has given me a culturally competent paradigm for teaching both domestic and international medicine to my residents that includes an analysis of how culture, race and economics shape the medical terrain.” James initially went to HAS as an emergency medicine resident in the mid 90's, and subsequently took another resident with her, Dr. Sandra Scott. Together, they have logged eight additional volunteer visits since.

Scott said, “Our goal each year is to help Hôpital Albert Schweitzer (HAS) improve some aspect of their emergency care so that they can enhance treatment for their trauma patients.” Many roads near the hospital have been paved in recent years, leading to increased traffic as well as an increased number of trauma patients seen at HAS, according to Scott.

The team focused this year's instructional training in the use of ultrasound. Training in prior years has included triage, airway management, and advanced life saving skills.

HAS has also sent the James/Scott teams to L'Opital Generale Medical School in Port-au-Prince to teach cardiac, trauma and pediatric critical care and life support to residents there.

As part of the goodwill mission, social worker Zola Bruce also conducted art classes for groups of Haitian children, and fitted many children in the community with new clothing. “This was my first experience in Haiti,” said Zola, “and I was honored to be a part of such a compassionate HAS team. I enjoyed working with children from the community, the art work they produced was refreshing, and they brought new perspective to my life.”