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In the aftermath of Haiti’s devastating January 2010 earthquake, overloaded hospitals are still facing severe challenges meeting the needs of seriously injured and desperately ill patients. Transitional care is essential for the thousands of men, women and children who lost limbs and suffered painful amputations.
In response to these critical needs, AmeriCares is supporting a project to ensure emergency shelter and access to medical care as well as safe, dignified discharge for 1,000 vulnerable people in earthquake affected areas of Port-au-Prince. Through coordinated referral, directed transport and assisted discharge, people participating in the program will be able to access needed medical care and depart safely from hospital wards to emergency shelter.
The World Health Organization estimates that 3,000 amputees currently have wound infections and 2,000 will need follow up surgery. In coming months, many patients with disabling and traumatic injuries – including amputation of major limbs – will need transportation and other assistance in order to safely reunite with their families and receive critical follow up medical care.
“Earthquake survivors with disabilities face serious challenges as they transition from hospitals to their homes and local communities,” said Dr. Frank Bia, M.D., AmeriCares medical director. “Almost nothing in Haiti is what Americans would think of as handicap accessible, so targeted programs such as this fill desperately needed gaps in care.”
Doctors also report a significant backlog of patients who are ready to go home from the hospital, but have no home to go to. Hundreds of at-risk pregnant women, children and elderly people are unable to leave hospitals’ wards, hallways and parking lots because they are newly homeless, lack transportation or would be unable to have access to the follow-up medical care they need. Read the AmeriCares blog entry “A Generation of Amputees”
Due to the magnitude and severity of the injuries caused by the devastating earthquake, extreme burden remains on hospitals, despite the reopening of facilities providing follow up and specialty care.