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AmeriCares Delivers New X-Ray Machine to Haiti

  • April 13, 2010

Medical professionals now have desperately needed technology at their fingertips thanks to the delivery of a portable digital X-ray machine to Adventist Hospital in Carrefour, Haiti. Doctors throughout Haiti have been working with no X-rays at all, or with decades-old machines that are running out of film in recent weeks as they rush to treat survivors of with broken bones.

“Doctors in Haiti have been setting broken bones without X-rays,” said AmeriCares SVP of Global Programs Elizabeth Furst Frank, who recently returned from Haiti. “As one doctor said, ‘It’s like trying to fly an airplane blind.'”

To fill the immediate need, Fujifilm Medical Systems USA donated a portable, digital X-ray system to AmeriCares. The AmeriCares emergency response team in Haiti donated the machine to Adventist Hospital where the medical staff had been using two aging X-ray machines nonstop since the earthquake. At the height of the disaster the 70-bed hospital, located only a few miles from the epicenter of the earthquake, treated as many as 500 patients per day. The Haiti team made three visits to the hospital and had a formal meeting with the medical director before selecting the location.

“Every time we visited there were lines of patients waiting for X-rays,” said AmeriCares relief worker Brian Hoyer. “They did 1,100 X-rays in the first three weeks after the earthquake and they were running out of film and solutions. This new machine is digital so there’s no film to develop and physicians can view the images immediately.”

“There are more than 500 people staying on the [hospital] campus. They’ve received some kind of care, but they need follow-up. The hospital is just bustling with activity. It’s not chaotic – they are really well organized, but they have patients waiting all the time for the services,” continued Hoyer. 

AmeriCares Delivers New X-Ray Machine to Haiti

Now, the new x-ray machine is helping doctors diagnose 30 – 40 people every day. This enables the hospital to provide more x-rays overall, as well as x-rays for people in the emergency room and for people who are to move easily. The new FCR Go portable system can be wheeled to the patient, which is ideal for immobilized earthquake survivors with the most serious injuries.

Elourde Joseph, a Stamford Hospital X-ray technologist with family in Haiti, was trained by Fujifilm on the system and helped train the Adventist Hospital staff in proper use of the new equipment.

Additional training will be a great relief to the beleaguered staff at the hospital. The primary technician trained to operate the new portable x-ray machine has worked nearly every day since the earthquake, often working 12 hours a day or more.  Establishing training and education programs for local health care workers is part of AmeriCares commitment to deliver $50 million in aid to help rebuild the Haiti’s health care system.

“We are committed to helping support and rebuild Haiti’s health care system in the weeks, months and years ahead,” Furst Frank said. “Delivery of this portable X-ray equipment to Haiti and the staff training will significantly improve the medical treatment available to the people of Haiti in the wake of the devastating earthquake.”

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