NYDG FOUNDATION: Rx Haiti
Help us help Haiti walk again.
Application for Section 501(c)(3) status in process
Application for Section 501(c)(3) status in process
NYDG Foundation: Rx Haiti Benefit will be auctioning the work of the following artists, designers, and athletes at our fundraiser on May 6, 2010.
We are grateful to them for their generous donations.
Dr. David Colbert, NYDG Foundation
Dr. Dianne Jean-Francois, Catholic Medical Missions, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Here is the link to the Huffington Post article: NYC Dermatologist Mobilizes the A List to Help Haitian Amputees
By Alicia WhitakerHuman
Now that the Olympics are winding down, with endless images of healthy young people doing amazing and often dangerous feats of athleticism, media coverage is returning to the ongoing dilemmas in Haiti. A recent New York Times article focused on the extraordinary number of amputations performed as a result of the earthquake.
Of course record keeping in a country where an already fragile infrastructure has been destroyed is difficult, but the Times reported that 6,000 to 8,000 people have lost limbs or digits and that 2,000 to 4,000 amputations have been performed. In past quakes of similar magnitude, amputations have numbered in the hundreds, not the thousands. They are the defining injury of this earthquake.
We’ve learned that many of these amputations were performed in very primitive conditions, in makeshift hospitals, often after days of delay that caused ruinous infections. Amputations have saved lives but have created enormous challenges for people who may have lost their jobs, homes, families and support for rehabilitation and follow up care. And the harsh reality of life in Haiti with this type of disability is that people are often treated as outcasts and are unemployable.
NYC dermatologist and internist Dr. David Colbert from the New York Dermatology Group was one of the physicians who responded to the emergency by volunteering to provide medical care. Dr. Colbert and his Medical Assistant Paul Hogue spent a week in Haiti in the beginning of February and experienced the avalanche of amputations and related follow up care. See excerpts from his New York Post video diary here.
Colbert is a dermatologist in New York City whose practice includes A-list models and actors and where the order of the day is keeping the already beautiful wrinkle-free and youthful. What many don’t know is that he speaks fluent French, has a specialty in wound care, has worked as an emergency room physician and is a dermatological surgeon. He has also served on medical missions to Cambodia and other parts of the world experiencing environmental or political disasters. A Haitian physician, Dr. Peggy Regis, is a member of his team in New York.
As a result of his experience in Haiti, Colbert’s team has established a not-for-profit foundation to raise money for prosthetics and related medical supplies and services. The NYDG Foundation is partnering with ARIMED Orthotics and Prosthetics to provide prosthesis for Haitians with limb-loss. They will hold a fundraiser on Thursday, May 6 at Scholastic, Inc, at 557 Broadway in Soho.
I came back from Haiti believing that one of the most important things we can do to help now is to find a way to make available the prosthetics and related services that people will need to function again. If each of us does one little thing, it can add up to a very big thing, so I believe that we can raise money for a prosthetics clinic in Port au Prince–that will make a difference.
Many celebrities and prominent New Yorkers have offered to participate, and an auction will feature works from artists Jack Pierson, Jill Moser, Shawn Dulaney, Kelly Walker, and EJ Camp, and clothes from well-known fashion designers.
Joining Colbert as hosts for the fund raiser are Naomi Watts, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, Helmut Lang, and L’Wren Scott.
Prosthetics are costly — the average cost in the US is around $6,000, but can easily reach $25,000 — few are available in Haiti and there are enormous issues related to custom-fitting them, repairing them and replacing them when they break or when people grow out of them. In addition, people need physical therapy to learn how to use them.
As Haiti continues to dig out of the tragedy and as the world organizes its longer term response, it’s clear that there needs to be new thinking about social change in Haiti as well as the health resources to support such a large group of mostly very young amputees. Initiatives such as Colbert’s provide hope that there will be resources to meet the need.
Read Dr. Colbert’s recap of his medical mission to Haiti in today’s New York Post
Here is the link: What was lost in Haiti
By DAVID COLBERT, MD
Last Updated: 5:14 AM, February 7, 2010
Posted: 12:48 AM, February 7, 2010
Forgotten sometimes in the heartbreaking death count from the Haiti earthquake — more than 200,000 at last estimate — is the toll on the survivors. Loss of relatives, children, businesses, homes, sanity, all of these, but also, in a shocking number of cases, the loss of a limb. The quake will leave its mark for a generation, you’ll see it in the absence of arms and legs.
In only my first few days volunteering in Haiti last week, I witnessed 40 amputations, performed without the benefit of standard operating room conditions. International aid groups say the final tally could number in the thousands.
I arrived in Santo Domingo on late Friday, Jan. 29, with my medical assistant Paul Hogue, lugging monstrous black duffel bags packed with medical and surgical supplies. At 4 a.m., we boarded a bus for the border crammed with some 20 surgeons, several operating room nurses, anesthesiologists, intensive care unit specialists, counselors and medic-volunteers. Many of us had gotten the invite from the Dominican Republic-based Esperanza Foundation. Mass e-mails went out across the world, bringing wave after wave of medical personnel, who, despite the numbers, would still be hard put to handle the task at hand: a city of 4 million people, many of them survivors desperately in need of immediate medical attention. The five-hour ride is somber. What we’re feeling mostly is fear.
The hospital is a makeshift MASH-style unit without the bravado. We drive in through heavy iron gates and see a big white plantation house surrounded by Haitian mountains, the sky and the landscape transformed by Red Cross trucks and US military helicopters. There are patients on stretchers being pulled off of jerry-rigged truck-ambulances, which appear to arrive every five minutes. Many of the wounded have been literally dug out from the rubble with bare hands. Some survived up to a week without food and water. It hardly seems possible.
Inside, the first floor had been set up as so many operating rooms. Cafeteria tables serve as surgical ones. Just about any direction you look, there’s blood. The noise level is notable: children sobbing and doctors and nurses shouting. This is a kind of systematized pandemonium — a field hospital in every sense.
The surgeon looks up. “Hey, doc. Please explain to this patient we are NOT going to amputate her foot any further. We are simply planning to clean the wound.” The 23-year-old woman looks at me, expectant and terrified. I try my Parisian French, dressed up for some reason with an authoritative Southern American accent. Voila, I am apparently speaking Creole. She smiles beautifully when she hears what I have to say.
In the next room are three little girls, all under 10. Each has a broken leg, none are casted. Young orthopedic surgeon Dr. Meredith Warner of New Orleans explains that the large metal posts on the table are used instead of casting because they are both stable and carry minimal risk of infection. It’s not pretty. The metal protrudes out from the bone and through the skin, with the overall effect of an erector set. Paul and I exchange glances, wondering who will remove the metal rods in six weeks. When I ask Meredith, she shakes her head ruefully. Another orthopedist answers, “One step at a time.”
The facts are not lost on any of us: When the dire urgency of life or death is over, the survivors will be in chronic need of follow-up medical care. Nobody here yet knows where that’s coming from.
In the next room is Wilfrid. He is 19 years old. He cries that he will lose his leg. He knows this, but still hopes to hear otherwise. He tells me he was trapped for days under piles of bricks. The morphine gives him temporary emotional relief from the enormity of what is about to happen, and he is wheeled into operating room No. 4, a former pantry. Wilfrid attempts to make the sign of the cross, but the drugs kick in before he’s finished. Later I’m told that he had been on a gurney in a Port au Prince emergency room for four days, but there were so many cases even more acute, he didn’t get care. The leg could have been saved.
Young, healthy, and naturally sunny, Wilfred does well post-operatively. When I go to see him the next day to change his dressings, he’s in unaccountably good spirits. He tells me, “J’etais libere,” that he feels he has been “set free” by the surgery. The worst is apparently over: the pain and the fear. But several times, he asks me where he will get a new leg. His concern is about going back to work at his factory, and he can’t work with just one leg. “Je dois travailler” he keeps repeating. Perhaps unwisely, I say, “The Americans can get you a new leg. It may take time. But we’ll get you a leg.”
I’m not sure I believe “we” will. As he repeats his mantra, I begin to think the thing through: Who can I contact to ask about prosthesis? Who will measure it, make it, ship it, attach it? How will all this actually happen?
I write down Wilfrid’s name and his cell phone number. Perhaps it’s a small irony of modern life, but the leg had been crushed by the earthquake, but not his Nokia. I add his name on my BlackBerry contact list. He has no address anymore. I’ve heard it so many times, that each of us can make a difference. If we all do one small thing, we can tackle something big — even as big as this. As Wilfrid and I say goodbye, I figure mine will be to get him his leg.
NYDG made the first donation of medical supplies, sending close to $2,000 to Haiti with Dr. Colbert and Medical Assistant Paul Hogue. As you can see from the pictures below, their suitcases were quite full. Over the next few weeks, NYDG will be using the remainder of the donations to buy large amounts of medical supplies. These supplies will be shipped to Esperanza International, the organization we have partnered with, in the DR and then driven to Haiti. NYDG will also be sending another medical team down in the coming weeks.
Check back soon for an update on Dr. Colbert and Paul who are currently helping in Haiti.