Two victims of the earthquake that struck Haiti last week are now being treated at the University Medical Center. The patients were transported from Haiti by a University Survival Flight aircraft, and are now receiving advanced care.
Hospital officials wrote in a press release yesterday that they are unable to disclose the condition of either patient, but that the patients have injuries requiring complex care that’s only available at few medical centers in the country, including the University of Michigan Health System.
The jet aircraft is part of an initiative started in the wake of the earthquake, which sends medical and flight crews to “transport personnel, patients and supplies to and from Haiti,” hospital officials said in a press release.
The Survival Flight unit is a collaboration effort among the Health System, the Association of Air Medical Services, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and contractor Pentastar Aviation to ensure that air medical services are available 24 hours a day, Health System officials said at yesterday’s press conference.
To retrieve the two survivors, the Survival Flight crew spent a night in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. before continuing to San Juan, Puerto Rico for a technical stop and finally onto Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Pentastar pilot Jim Beasley said in an interview following yesterday’s press conference.
Beasley said the complicated logistics were necessary to ensure a smooth flight.
Beasley flew with a medical crew to pick up the two survivors who required high-level care not offered at the scene.
Jeffrey Pothof, a chief resident in emergency medicine, was part of the medical crew that helped stabilize the patients’ medical conditions for flight.
Pothof said the patients were chosen based on their likelihood to benefit from advanced treatments only available at institutions like the University Hospital.
He added that he interacted with workers at a small Haitian hospital, and asked medical personnel there about their need for additional medical supplies.
“You can see kind of the despair in their faces and the fatigue in their eyes,” Pothof said.
Pothof said he also observed the after-effects of the quake while in the devastated city.
“You would see an area where some buildings were standing, and then just complete rubble,” he said.
He had the chance to interact with other relief workers and Haitian hospital workers at the scene. He said he saw people from the United States, France and Canada—describing the scene as a “total international effort.”
“When you get down there, the level of destruction and the thousands of people who need aid…it makes you wish you could do a little bit more than what you did,” Pothof said. “But I am kind of happy that the University of Michigan supported a humanitarian effort to go to Haiti and at least get a couple of people back.”
In addition to the Survival Flight, the Health System is currently sending basic medical supplies to the country via a Detroit-based charity, World Medical Relief.
Though the Health System hasn’t sent any medical personnel to be stationed in Haiti, officials are collecting names of nurses, pharmacists, clinical staff and medically trained volunteers who are willing to work on site.
The country — which was ravaged by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake on Jan. 12 — is still in dire need of medical supplies and trained medical professionals, according to The Associated Press.
Aid workers arrived in the country in droves as part of the largest aid effort in the Red Cross’s 91-year history, according to the AP.
The Haitian government estimates that the death toll has reached 200,000 in the eight days since the quake struck, according to the AP. The quake also left 250,000 injured and an estimated 2 million homeless.
—The Associated Press contributed to this report.