Edward pediatric emergency doctors helping children in Haiti. Read The Naperville Sun story.
For the kids in Haiti
Two Edward pediatricians are among those helping Haiti's smallest victims
January 29, 2010
By SUSAN FRICK CARLMAN
The tears come after night falls. That's one thing Dr. Jennifer McNulty has seen since she arrived in Haiti.
The Edward Hospital emergency room pediatrician and a co-worker, Dr. Lina Abujamra, left the comfort of home early Monday for a 14-hour journey to the quake-battered nation. Their two-week trip was arranged through a partnership between Children's Memorial Hospital and the Heartland Alliance, a humanitarian relief organization based in Chicago, to help ease some of the vast human suffering that has pervaded in Haiti since it was rocked by the Jan. 12 earthquake.
The two physicians are part of a team of six Chicago-area pediatric specialists -- three doctors and three nurses -- sent to Haiti by the alliance Monday as part of its effort to provide medical services and other support to children who are orphaned or separated from their parents. The volunteer relief teams, another of which went to Haiti on Thursday, are bringing essential medical supplies and providing services in Croix-des-Bouquets, site of a major tent city on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince that is expected eventually to serve 100,000 refugees.
McNulty confirmed reports that tents are in short supply in the broken nation.
"There are tens of thousands of people sleeping outside under tarps or just the stars. We have cars and drivers and policemen for security. We are lucky to be sleeping in an apartment. No electric but we have running water," she wrote in an e-mail to The Sun on Wednesday evening.
The two local pediatricians and their colleagues are finding genuine purpose in their visit.
"They're seeing at least 200 patients a day," said Andrea Becklund, international programs manager for the Heartland Alliance. "The need is definitely there, and they're probably overwhelmed."
Volunteers allied with the organization also have been providing help for some of the many unaccompanied children wandering the streets. The workers are helping furnish housing, medical care, counseling and other support services for the children while U.S. and Haitian officials and international organizations work to find their families. The Haitian government has banned orphans from leaving the country until it can verify the legitimacy of the adoptions of those bound for the U.S.
Aware that kids and their families may simply be having trouble finding one another in the chaos that has followed the disaster, McNulty, Abujamra and their traveling companions made a detour on the way from the airport in Santo Domingo to their destination Monday night.
"There is concern about child trafficking and we stopped at the border to evaluate how closed it was for kidnappers (trying) to take orphaned kids out to sell," McNulty wrote.
Becklund said her agency received $81,295 in federal funding Thursday morning, to be used to thwart the illegal adoptions.
"We also plan to work in geriatric care, due to the problem of a lot of elderly people not receiving services after the earthquake," she said.
The emotional toll of the disaster is being addressed as well.
"We've also been sending social workers, mental health specialists," Becklund said. "That's the second focus of the Heartland Alliance's work over there: providing psychosocial services for the people of Haiti."
McNulty can attest to the necessity of that initiative.
"The people of Haiti smile and then cry at night," she wrote. "Everyone has psych stress that we cannot comprehend. Psychology help is here -- there is unbelievable problems."
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