By Stan Friedman
BEAVERTON, OR (January 29, 2010) – Orthopedic surgeon Todd Ulmer says teams from World Relief International and Medical Teams International had to be “very resourceful” to obtain medical supplies in Haiti so that they could perform surgery and treat other patients.
World Relief and Medical Teams International are the partners who are receiving funds donated to Covenant World Relief for Haiti relief.
Ulmer, who is on the board of MTI and attends Summit View Covenant Church, performed surgeries at King’s Hospital last week, putting in 14-hour days. The hospital is a 350-bed Christian facility in Port-au-Prince.
See Medical Teams International in Haiti on mobile or web via Vimeo.
It was not scheduled to open until next month so has only minimal supplies and equipment, such as X-ray machines. The hospital has been deemed structurally sound, however, and several operating rooms have remained busy.
Relief workers brought medical supplies with them, but they were not always enough, Ulmer says. At times, workers bartered with other medical facilities to get the supplies they needed.
Ulmer emphasizes, “We never got to a point where we couldn’t work.”
The team with which Ulmer served arrived in Haiti at 4 a.m. January 18, arriving at the hospital by 7:30 a.m. – they performed their first surgeries within hours after that. The team returned last Friday.
Ulmer says stories of Haitians’ determination were “amazing.” Even staff at the hospital who had lost families and their homes wanted to help others. “They still came to work. I don’t know how they could do that. Some even walked an hour each way.”
Ulmer says teams could not work past the 14 hours due to security concerns at the time. Since then, the 82nd Airborne has established a base within a three-minute walk of the hospital and helped establish a security perimeter to safeguard the facility at night, according to a release from MTI. The U.S. military has also provided a portable anesthesia machine.
The hospital also is receiving post-surgical patients from the medical ship U.S. Comfort. It is working in close cooperation with a United Nations hospital and other medical facilities in the area.
Volunteer surgeons are now helping develop and strengthen orthopedic surgery work in other hospitals.
Ulmer is familiar with working in difficult conditions, having worked in numerous African nations over the past 20 years. He travels to the continent at least once a year.
During part of that time, he has worked with the Paul Carlson Partnership in Congo, a country that the United Nations says is even poorer than Haiti.
Ulmer says his faith motivate him to serve around the world. “Your expertise is not for yourself.”
To donate online to Covenant World Relief, click here.