Notes on Haiti - CEO Journal Part 17

Note: While Scripps continues to serve a medical mission to Haiti, Scripps CEO Chris Van Gorder is writing updates about medical aid in progress, conditions on the ground and what can be done to help earthquake victims. For other journal entries, see the Haiti news page.

Well, it’s time for Scripps to return to Haiti and continue our very important humanitarian mission there. We have remained in daily contact with the staff at Hospital Saint Francois de Sales and they have asked almost every day for Scripps to return. They tell us that the University of Maryland Shock/Trauma Team remains, but they are now limiting their work to surgical procedures.

Since the hospital’s triage area (they call it ‘the clinic’) is getting even busier — completely overwhelming their limited staff — they have asked us to return, if possible, with ER physicians, Ob/Gyn physicians and pediatricians on our support team. This turns out to be a best practice in terms of clinicians responding to Haiti from multiple locations around the country.

So, we are putting our third team together: two ER physicians, one Ob/Gyn physician, two critical care/nurse managers and one support/logistics member. I’ll tell you who they are next week (with their permission). Commercial air traffic has resumed to Haiti as of today, so our plans are to send the team by commercial air to Haiti in order to reduce cost and make it easier for our teams to enter and leave. They will be staying with the Nuncio again, and we are arranging for safe ground transportation and interpreters.

In addition, we have been working with MedShares, a not-for-profit organization that donates medical supplies to third world countries. Based on our recommendation, they will be shipping more than $200,000 worth of desperately needed medical supplies and equipment to Hospital Saint Francois de Sales. Through our partnership with MedShares, we will assist with shipping costs.

I’d like to tell you that many in our community have donated money to Scripps to help us on these missions in Haiti. Many of these gifts have come from our employees and we have received generous support from members of our Leadership Academy and Leadership Academy alumni. In fact, 100 percent of our current class and two past classes donated, and others have made donations individually.

This morning, my office received a call from La Jolla Elementary School. The students got together and raised $500 to give to Scripps to help us with our mission, based on reading an article in the La Jolla Light newspaper. What a generous gesture! I will make sure that their gift goes directly to helping the children of Haiti and I will go and talk to the students as soon as I can.

We also received a call from staff members of AT&T who donate stuffed animals to children’s causes. Based on an article that mentioned our handing out toys to some of the children in Saint Francois, they want to donate to us if we can carry their donation to Haiti. We will make sure we always take some with each team. The lady who called us said she had a Beanie Baby collection she wanted to donate.

All this just goes to show how generous Americans are — from school children, to employees of major corporations, to corporations themselves. America is a very generous society. And chief among them are the Scripps employees who continue to support this mission, either by being on a response team or supporting back here at home.

I won’t be going on this third mission. Though I would love to go, my duties require me to stay home this time and support from San Diego, just like many of you. But the team is going to communicate with me several times a day and I will let you know what they are doing and share some stories about their patients.

So, I’ll talk to you again next week.

Chris Van Gorder

See the Haiti news page for other journal entries.