Saturday, January 15, 2011

Partners in Health Pauses to "Remember, Reflect, and Respond" to the First Anniversary of the Haiti Earthquake

I was in the audience last night at Boston's John Hancock Hall when staff and supporters of Partners in Health gathered to "Remember, Reflect, and Respond" to the first anniversary of the Haiti Earthquake.

The event was podcast, and I encourage you to join with those of us who were there last night to hear the thoughtful reflections that were shared by those whose lives were forever touched and changed when the earth moved that January afternoon in 2010 in Haiti.

Partners in Health Podcast of "Remember, Reflect, Respond"

Let me add a couple of personal reflections from last evening. When you watch and listen to the Podcast, you will see Dr. Paul Farmer pause and point out a Haitian man sitting in the audience - a man who had been treated at one of the Zanmi Lasante hospitals (Partners in Health's Haiti Organization) after the earthquake. Reserve Coffy and his wife were injured, and their son, Jean Paul Coffy, living in Chicago, flew to the Dominican Republic and then traveled to Haiti to find his parents. They were re-united, and Jean Paul and his family were with us last night and led us all in a song that closed the program:
"We won't let Haiti go;
We will help Haiti grow
Side by side we shall stand"
When the last notes of this anthem of hope had stopped reverberating, I went up to Monsieur Reserve Coffy, and gave him my greetings and best wishes for continued recovery of his health - all in Creole. As we were speaking, we were approached by Dr. Elizabeth Nabel, a world-renowned cardiologist who is President of the Brigham and Women's Hospital. Earlier in the evening, she had been featured in a moving photograph taken in Haiti at the Zanmi Lasante hospital in Cange where the M. Coffy and his wife had ben taken for treatment. In the photo, Dr. Nabel stands between M. Coffy and his wife, Zilania Joacim. Dr. Nabel, hearing that Reserve and I were speaking in Creole, asked me to translate as she caught up with him and asked for a report on how his wife was doing.

Here are some additional details of the family's story, taking from the Partners in Health website.

"The family eventually contacted Partners In Health (PIH) in Boston looking for help. After learning of their situation, our colleagues in Haiti arranged to transport the family to our hospital in Cange for medical care. But shortly after Mrs. Jaocim had been admitted, PIH staff recognized that her medical needs would exceed the level of care realistically available in Haiti at this time. Dr. Koji Nakashima assessed Mrs. Jaocim’s situation. He knew she needed to be moved out of the country if she was going to survive.

It is here that the family’s luck changed again for the better. Visiting Cange at that time were both the President of Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in Boston, Dr. Elizabeth Nabel, and Partners HealthCare President Dr. Gary Gottlieb. After meeting the couple, they helped arrange for Mrs. Jaocim to receive free treatment at BWH. The PIH team raced to secure travel documents and make travel arrangements, and on March 28, the couple took off for Boston."

"When Treatment Isn't Available"

Finally, as I left Dr. Nabel and Reserve, I moved to the other side of the auditorium to greet Dr. Paul Farmer. Here is the quick story of our encounter:

I finally had a chance to meet Dr. Paul Farmer last night. Paul is Founder of Partners in Health. I got to tell him that as far as I know, we are the only two people on the planet who share these three things in common:

1) We are both white male Bostonians who speak Haitian Creole

2) We have both run hospitals in Haiti

3) We have both worked within the Russian prison system.

If you know of others who can join our two-person club, let me know!

* * * * * *

Please follow the lead of Partners in Health and take time on this first anniversary of the Haiti earthquake to . . .

Remember . . . Reflect . . . Respond

Half of all American households have contributed to the rebuilding of Haiti. Perhaps this is an appropriate time for you to make a contribution to help with the continuing needs. Log onto the PIH site and make a contribution.

God bless Haiti and its wonderful people. God bless the PIH team.


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