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Hospital of Central Connecticut staff members back from Haiti

New Britain [March 24 2010] - Each morning in Haiti, Deborah Ferretti, A.P.R.N., awoke to the sounds of roosters crowing and brooms sweeping entrances to tents, the makeshift homes born of the Jan. 12 earthquake that ravaged the country. She’d have a power bar and some water before leaving her tent for a medical clinic in Port-au-Prince where she and other staff members of The Hospital of Central Connecticut (HCC) would see up to 70 patients daily during a recent medical missionary trip.

“Most patients would already be sitting and waiting for us to arrive,” says Ferretti, who with other Hearts for Haiti team members cared for Haitians, both young and old, for illnesses that included breathing problems, hypertension, gastrointestinal ailments, typhoid fever, skin conditions and stress-related headaches and stomachaches.

The 10-member Hearts for Haiti team returned from Haiti March 19, after embarking March 8. Primary care physician Anthony Ciardella, M.D., who practices in Southington, coordinated the trip through World Cares Center with support from ReadyResponders Network and Housing Works, Inc. Other team members from HCC were Sarah Wells, P.A.; R.N.s Patricia Alfieri, Salena Devoe, Ashley Dizon, Brenda Jaramillo, Terry Kamens; and Angela Torres, a nurse technician. Torres’ husband, Jonathan Torres, an emergency medical technician, who is not an HCC employee, was also on the team.

“Most of us have the sense that we shouldn’t have left,” says Ciardella upon return. “There was so much to do there. Realistically, we know we did what we could.”

The team was split among three camps, two at Port-au-Prince, the area hardest hit by the quake, and the other at Saint-Marc. On two nights, some team members traveled to an orphanage, providing care to 22 youngsters. Supporting the team’s effort were medical supplies and medications the team brought, many through donations.

“We were seeing 75 patients a day,” says Ciardella, who worked from a clinic at Saint-Marc, where patients would start lining up at 5:30 a.m. “It was so hot and there was no power the whole time we were there. The only power we had was a generator that worked intermittently.”

Alfieri, who worked at a Port-au-Prince clinic, recalls seeing a mother who complained of a backache and wasn’t sleeping well. “I listened to her tell her story,” says Alfieri, who says the woman conveyed she was homeless and sleeping on the streets with her baby. “The best thing she could do,” Alfieri counseled the woman, “was to keep her eyes and ears open to find shelter.”

Ferretti recalls two twin boys, age 1 ½, who had trouble breathing; one of the boys also had a broken femur (thighbone). Since the twins needed more care besides breathing treatments provided, the family, accompanied by team members, went to the pediatric hospital in Port-au-Prince, only to be denied admission because they weren’t sick enough.

Hampering the team’s efforts were limited resources for medical testing, forcing team members to rely primarily on patients’ symptoms and medical histories, says Ciardella. “We treated according to their symptoms and what we found.”

Without a formalized healthcare system, Ferretti says Haitians often rely on street vendors wearing pill baskets on their heads vs. quality medical care. “They use antibiotics like we use Motrin,” she says. “We were floored by how broken their healthcare system had been.”

Despite the Haitians’ plight, Ferretti was inspired by their strength and pride, adding that they came to the clinics wearing their best clothing. “Just to see how they were trying to hold on to normal life was really admirable.”

Alfieri returns with a sense of having done something good. “These people give so much back to you while you’re helping them that you don’t feel like you’re doing anything extraordinary. They were so grateful for everything you did for them.”

Contact: Kimberly Gensicki, 860-224-5900, x6507

HCC Corporate Communications
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