Summit medics fly to Haiti to provide services, supplies
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SUMMIT COUNTY – A group of local doctors and nurses depart today for an intense week of volunteering in Haiti, where “thousands in a tent city are waiting for health care,” said Kate Hamzi, a registered nurse who works at St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco.
She found out Friday that she’d be joining the group at the CDTI hospital in Port-au-Prince, where resources are limited.
“I’m nervous. I don’t really know what to expect,” Hamzi, 30, of Silverthorne said. “I’ve traveled to Third-World countries, but never after a disaster of this magnitude.”
She said the 18-bed hospital sustained “only minor damage” from the 7.0 magnitude earthquake on Jan. 12. But fear of aftershocks will have the volunteers sleeping outdoors in bug huts – lightweight tents meant for warm weather.
Hamzi joins locals from SMC including Dr. Peter Janes, orthopedic surgeon; Dr. Anthony Brocato, anesthesiologist; Matthew Cowell, certified registered nurse anesthetist and Patty Janes, registered nurse as well as other Coloradans who work in the Centura Health hospital network.
They’ll be bringing medication and supplies, many of which were donated by Summit Medical Center.
Ether and vodka have been used as anesthetics. Hamzi said they hope the supplies will “make surgeries a little more comfortable and safer.”
Hamzi has packed her bug hut, a sleeping pack, seven days’ worth of granola bars and some iodine tablets. She also is bringing along some gloves, masks and other supplies to protect against disease.
She went to Guatemala last year on a medical mission but said the experience wasn’t like what she expects on the ground in Haiti.
Hamzi expects to encounter “lots of wounds turning gangrenous.”
And some of them may have already been treated. Because many people have lost their homes, it’s tough to care for their wounds after physicians have treated them, so the wounds become infected and the people return for further treatment.
Many patients with crushed limbs had undergone amputation because of a lack of resources. Hamzi said it’s anticipated that Peter Janes will be able to save limbs through surgery.
She expects to work about 12 to 16 hours per day for up to a week, and she said the doctors anticipate performing about 30 to 40 surgeries per day.
The group of locals today flies to Miami, where they’ll board a cargo plane to Haiti.
“I’m just excited,” Hamzi said. “It just all kind of fell into place for me.”
She has been a nurse with Summit Medical Center for more than a year; she’s worked at the hospital for five years.
Robert Allen can be contacted
at (970) 668-4628 or
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