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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Two Wishard paramedics making plans to travel to Haiti

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Two paramedics from Wishard’s Level 1 Trauma Center are making plans to travel to Haiti to aid in recovery after a 7.0-magntitude earthquake struck the impoverished Caribbean nation.

“We are working quickly to evaluate how we support these two paramedics now and provide other resources long term that will be needed in the Port Au Prince where thousands of people are in desperate need,” said Dr. Lisa Harris, CEO and medical director of Wishard Health Services. “We are making arrangements to convert a school in Port Au Prince into a hospital and provide emergency services.”

The massive earthquake is estimated to have produced a death toll in the thousands and to have affected one third of the island’s nearly 9 million inhabitants. Victims of the quake have already overrun the main hospital in Port Au Prince.

“The compassionate and brave Wishard professionals who are planning for this trip are volunteers and clearly understand the conditions on the ground in Haiti,” said Matthew R. Gutwein, President and CEO of Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County, which operates Wishard. “This will be a difficult task. We hope that they will be able to help as many people as possible, that they will all safely return to us, and that we will never face this kind of disaster here at the local level.”

Michael Thralls will be leading the team along with his wife, Melanie. Both are Wishard paramedics with experience in Haiti.

The medical conditions in Haiti are desperate, with many health care workers missing or unable to get to hospitals. Communication is compromised and coordinated efforts are needed. Wishard’s team will be traveling with satellite phones.

Wishard delivered a similar response after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in 2005. At that time, in partnership with the American Red Cross of Greater Indianapolis Wishard established a temporary medical care center at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

“The work of this team will not compromise emergency medical services at Wishard,” Dr. Harris said. “We do want to thank the nurses, doctors, staff and paramedics who will be staying behind and working to ensure there are no gaps in service.”

The team is finalizing transportation plans, and will be prepared to leave Indianapolis as soon as they receive clearance. Individuals can contribute to the effort through MissionHaitiMidwest.org.

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