Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it."

Helen Keller
Medical Missions

MEDICAL

Since 2009, Helping Hugs, Inc. has conducted five mission trips to Côtes-de-Fer, Haiti.  At least one nurse has been part of the team on each trip to teach chapel directors and others how to use the first aid supplies and medicines that we bring.  In addition to the medical supplies, we have made a number of shipments of personal hygiene items and over the counter type of medicines.

Medical Missions

The focus on the second Helping Hugs medical mission was on women and children.  After last year’s mission trip, we were better prepared since we knew that so many of their health issues stem from contaminated water.  The 2015 Medical mission team consisting of 2 MD’s and 4 RN’s, left on November 28th for Port au Prince.  Unfortunately, half of the luggage with medicines and supplies did not arrive for 3 days, stranding the team in Port au Prince until December 1st!  Once all luggage was retrieved the team set out for Cotes de Fer and our sister parish.  We hit the road running, arriving at 3 PM and began to see patients at 3:30.  Many of the patients walked a long distance to get there.  Rather than send them away, we kept seeing them until 10:30 that night with portable lanterns brought down to the little school we were using for the clinic.  Dr. Jean Georges Baptiste, Director of the Government Clinic in Cotes de Fer joined the team for the entire time we were there.  It was a real treat to work with him.  The collaboration was important since he will be the one to see the patients for follow up visits, especially those newly diagnosed with diabetes and hypertension.  There is such a great need for a clinic that turnout was exceptionally large.  Unlike last year when we ran out of many medicines, we ordered more and were able to accommodate most of the patients.  

The team traveled to two distant rural chapels in addition to the parish clinic.  One day was spent in Metayer and the next in Mayette.  The roads-or rather rocky paths just wide enough for a vehicle- are always a challenge for people as well as vehicles.  On the first rural clinic day, Fr. Islaire’s truck blew a tire when we were halfway there (all of his tires are bald).  We piled into the second vehicle with our very special driver/interpreter Domond and went on, leaving Fr. Islaire and the other 3 interpreters to fix the vehicle or find a ride to meet us.  Fortunately they came riding up on motorcycles along with Dr. George, who brought up a tire from the village.  The Haitians are very resourceful!

Over the course of 4 days we saw almost 500 patients.  Dr. Shirley Wilson, an OBGYN physician was a real hit with the women!  So many of them suffer from infections from contaminated water in the river.  That is where they bathe, wash clothes and children, and get water for cooking and drinking.  Unfortunately there was a woman in one of the remote  chapels that we could not help.  She was pregnant, but had extremely high blood pressure.  There was simply no where to send her.  The nearest hospital is 5-6 hours away over rocky paths and not safe for her to travel.  Domond said it was best to leave her there.  People die in Haiti every day from things that here we take for granted.  Dr Wilson was also representing the Helping Hugs collaboration with the Brunswick, Georgia chapter of the LINKS, Inc.

Dr. Shontae Buffington, an amazing pediatrician who came to Brunswick, GA less than 2 years ago from California “to make a difference “, saw so many children!  Even when we were packing up to leave for Port au Prince she was still holding babies and treating the moms as well.  One baby desperately needed a breathing treatment for asthma.  We had medicine, but no breathing machine, so Dr. Georges retrieved his from the clinic and the baby was successfully treated.  Successful collaboration!

Needless to say,  no clinic can succeed without its nurses.  Louise Johnston and Jeanne Hessling-the organizational energizer bunnies-ran the pharmacy and distribution of gifts while Sharron Olson and Diane Smith obtained histories, took vital signs and assigned patients to one of the 3 physicians. 

On the night before we left, Dr. Georges asked us to return every 6 months if we could!  Oh my!  He said that we saw more patients in 4 days than he could see in 4 months 

Yeah team!!

The medical team continues to visit this area of Haiti and completed it’s most recent trip in February of 2017.  

The fourth medical mission trip was completed in February of 2018.  Current efforts are being made to assure existing patients receive the life saving medications needed until our team can return next year.  We are grateful to the many volunteer doctors and nurses who volunteer their time to make these trips possible.  If you would like to be a part of these efforts, please let us know. 

2017 Medical Mission Trip Video

The fourth medical mission trip was completed in February of 2018.  Current efforts are being made to assure existing patients receive the life saving medications needed until our team can return next year.  We are grateful to the many volunteer doctors and nurses who volunteer their time to make these trips possible.  If you would like to be a part of these efforts, please let us know.