Medical team returns from Haiti

Less than 48 hours after their return from a medical mission to Haiti, two local volunteers shared their story and started making plans to return.

Rick Baker, a flight paramedic with University Hospital and Heidi Ennenbach a registered nurse at Boone Hospital Center know the work they did in Haiti was life changing for everyone involved.

Ennenbach says the experience was, "like the worst possible episode of M*A*S*H. The sound of the helicopters flying in, the noise of the sirens as the ambulance came down the street, and and hundreds of people who are displaced from their homes who are who are hungry, exhausted, scared and looking for loved ones."

The two were part of a nine member team from Columbia serving at the Hospital Sacre Coeur in northern Haiti. The hospital has been run by the CRUDEM Foundation for more than 20 years but has never seen a need such as this.

"I was shocked," says Baker when seeing patients lying on straw mats on the concrete floor. "You have a mind-set of what patient care is supposed to be based on the medicine we practice here, and it was archaic, it was unsanitary, and we did the best we could to keep them clean to keep the wounds dry."

Ennenbach says the medical staff varied in size, but once during the week as another team left the hospital they had just seven RN's for 250-300 patients. She says to make matters worst they ran out of a critical antibiotic that is given once a day. The back-up was another drug given three times a day. That spread the staff thin.

But despite the crisis, they saw the compassion of the Haitians. Rick was touched by a picture drawn by a little boy who accompanied his mother to the hospital for treatment. The crayon drawing of a helicopter included the words 'I Love You.' Ennenbach was moved by a man who kept a constant vigil by a stranger's bedside.

Both say they will return to Haiti later this spring.

To help the CRUDEM Foundation follow the links below.