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No time to cry; 'we just keep going'

Posted by on Jan. 18, 2010 at 1:47 PM
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    By Rachel Revehl The (Fort Myers, Fla.) News-Press
    Vinouth Pierre's voice was like a lullaby as she tightly grasped the hand of Balnave Ulise, 7, who screamed as another nurse cleaned his wounds.

    "He is calling to Jesus, saying please have pity on him," Pierre translated as the boy, an orphan with an amputated leg, wailed in pain. "Where he will go when he leaves here, I don't know."

     

    A critical care nurse from Naples, Fla., Pierre, 25, flew in Saturday with Hope for Haiti, a team of medical professionals from southwest Florida. Though overwhelmed by the magnitude of the need, she said she has not had time to cry.

     

    "We just keep going," she said.

     

    Less than two days into their Haitian journey, the doctors and nurses of Hope for Haiti had run through half their supplies - two semi-trucks full.

     

    "Two days or two years?" nurse Margaret Bortko asked. "Because that's what it feels like."

     

     

    The group of seven worked out of General Hospital in downtown Port-au-Prince, where the Red Cross and other organizations from around the world set up clinics to give people a central location to come for help. The hospital, which has no electricity, closes at nightfall.

     

    "I'm losing it, I'm so tired," said Candace Thompson, a certified nurse specialist with the group. "It's like nothing I've ever experienced in my life."

     

    Richard Jean-Baptiste is a Haitian medical student who began working with the Naples crew Saturday. He said he believes 95% of the nation's doctors fled the country and the rest may have perished.

     

    "My heart hurts so much for so many people who are injured and in need of care," Jean-Baptiste said. "But as bad as you see it, it would be four times as bad if the Americans and others weren't here."

     

    Vladimir Mathieu, a doctor with the Naples crew, said half his patients won't live. "They survived the earthquake, but now they are dying from infections," he said.

     

    Floors at the hospital were blood-smeared. Phillip Organ, a doctor from Naples, scurried to empty buckets of waste before darting to his next patient. He stopped when asked how he was most affected. Tears welled in the eyes of a man who has practiced medicine for 41 years.

     

    "The gratitude," he answered, his voice cracking. "They thank America over and over again. After everything they've been through, I don't feel worthy of that."

     

    No time to cry; 'we just keep going'
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     EARLIER HAITI COVERAGE

    by on Jan. 18, 2010 at 1:47 PM
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