In my four months in Haiti, I have witnessed many milestones. Children going back to school, their uniforms freshly pressed and ribbons in their hair. The emergency and intensive care tents coming down at HUEH and patients being moved back inside. The opening of our first clinic in Jacmel.
No matter the victory, small or large, independent or exclusive to International Medical Corps, I have celebrated silently, pausing just for a reflective moment before racing off to the next thing.
But the 100,000-mark was different.
This past week, International Medical Corps officially provided more than 100,000 patient consultations through our operations at the Hopital de l’Universite d’Etat d’Haiti (HUEH) and our clinics in Port-au-Prince, Petit Goave, Jacmel, and Leogane.
They have saved lives on the spot, from amputations to gun shot wounds at HUEH, and for years to come with immunization campaigns and treatment for major child killers like malaria and waterborne disease.
At HUEH, the 100,000-mark represents the work of more than 400 volunteer doctors and nurses who have rotated through offering their time and expertise to help those in need. Many were on their first overseas medical mission. All came from advanced hospitals and facilities in the United States, Europe, and Australia. But all were passionate and did everything they could to save lives even when the technology, medicine, or infrastructure was not there to support them.
“We have been able to provide simple solutions for complicated cases and improvise when things did not exist in country,” says Dr. Gabriel Novelo, hospital coordinator for International Medical Corps at HUEH. “We have given a lot of people a fighting chance that they would not have had.”
In the some 15 International Medical Corps clinics, the 100,000-mark represents not only the work of volunteers, but also the dedication of Haitian doctors and nurses who, after also experiencing the worst natural disaster to hit the western hemisphere in 200 years, rolled up their sleeves to help their people. Nearly each day, teams of Haitian doctors and nurses head out by jeep, boat, or foot with boxes of medicines to make medical care available to thousands of people who might otherwise not have access.
When we surprised the clinic team at Bolosse with a cake to celebrate, Dr. Evanson Morin, who has worked with International Medical Corps since January, wanted to say a few words. “In the name of International Medical Corps staff of Bolosse, we would like to thank all of [the international community] – you have provided us with a means to help others,” he said. “In the name of the Haitian people, thank you to the international community for coming here to help us.”
The 100,000-marker is something that also embodies the tireless work of logisticians, drivers, technical advisors, translators, finance officers, cooks, all of these players who work behind the scenes to make sure our life-saving programs can run every day and deliver the services people need.
“It is a testament to the dedication of the International Medical Corps team to deliver needed services to the earthquake-affected communities in Haiti,” says Dr. Jojo Cangao, International Medical Corps medical director for Haiti. “It is also a testament to the people’s confidence in International Medical Corps to deliver health services, something that we could not be prouder of.”
That’s why the 100,000-marker is so much more than a number. It’s what our entire team has worked around-the-clock for since January 12, from Haiti to Los Angeles, Washington, DC, London, and Split. It’s what people opened their hearts and gave money for. It’s a snapshot of lives saved and touched.
It’s why we’re here.