Notes on Haiti - CEO Journal Part 5

Scripps team departure Mission 2

Note: While serving a medical mission to Haiti, Scripps CEO Chris Van Gorder is writing dispatches 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.

First, I want to thank you all for the many comments you have sent in response to these journal updates. I have shared your comments with Dr. Eastman and many others. Our second deployment to Haiti is now underway. Since we are flying in small aircraft into Haiti from the United States, we are traveling in two small teams that will link up in Haiti on Saturday, Jan. 30.

Dr. Eastman is leading the first group, which left San Diego on Thursday (1/28) afternoon and will fly into Port-au-Prince from Fort Lauderdale today.

I am taking the second group this morning. We left Campus Point at 9 a.m. and plan to arrive in Haiti on Saturday, Jan. 31, where we will meet up with the first group and start our work at Hospital Saint Francois de Sales which, as you now know, is located in one of the hardest hit areas.

Largely as a result of your sharing my updates with others, our Foundation has been contacted by several donors wanting to help our mission and help cover our costs through their gifts. Some are also interested in our organization facilitating other relief efforts for the hospital we’re assisting.

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, our host and the Papal Nuncio to Haiti, also asked me to help him arrange purchase of an ambulance. He has a potential donor to cover the cost, but doesn’t know what to buy. So we are helping to facilitate that purchase, and our friends at MedAssets are also helping. In an e-mail the Archbishop sent, he said “we do need the ambulance here for those seriously hurt by the earthquake.”

Though we have had nearly 2,000 physicians and Scripps employees volunteer for our Haiti missions, at this point we have been asked to bring a very specific team of physicians, nurses and support staff to help supplement the care being provided by the University of Maryland. At this point, we do not know how long our assistance will be needed, but we are taking things one week at a time. We selected members of our first team based on some very specific medical and support needs, and most have direct disaster relief experience. Let me tell you who is going on this first full mission:

  • Michael Capozza, MD
  • Drew Peterson, MD
  • Steve Shackford, MD
  • Brent Eastman, MD
  • Maureen Shackford, RN
  • Patty Skoglund, RN
  • Todd Austin, MD
  • Kelly Hardiman, RN
  • Deb McQuillen, RN
  • Rob Sills
  • Chris Van Gorder

One more note for today: In my journal entries, I’m sure you’ve noticed that I keep mentioning John Bardis from MedAssets. He continues to go to extraordinary efforts to help us in our mission. In the last 48 hours, we learned that his aircraft was going to be available to take us into Haiti — but not to get us back out again. When he found out and we spoke to him, he said he would get us out “even if it means chartering another plane.”

What can I say? John will clearly be with us as we operate on each patient in Haiti. He is the description of a true humanitarian and, without his help right now, it would be extremely difficult for us to even make it to Haiti.

We also should recognize Archbishop Bernardito Auza. His protection, housing and transportation while in Haiti makes the environment safe enough for us to help.

I’ll let you know how it goes when we arrive. Thank you for your comments and warm wishes; when someone is a long way from home, a message from home is very nice to receive.

Chris Van Gorder

See the Haiti news page for other journal entries.