Notes on Haiti - CEO Journal Part 13

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.

As I write this update today, I just received word that the remaining members of our team have landed back in the United States and are heading home. We will track their progress carefully during the day until they reach San Diego later this evening. It will be a relief for me to have all team members home with us and with their families. But I’m certain in the next few weeks that we will return with smaller teams, as the need will exist in Haiti for a long time to come.

I have asked the team for their reflections on the mission and, as I expected, they are having some trouble putting their observations and experiences into words. But I will pester them and, over the next few days, I’ll share some of their thoughts with all of you. Even though I have shared a lot with you over the past two weeks, I have yet to come up with my final thoughts. When I do, I will share them, as well.

Meanwhile, here are a couple of impressions from the team to get us started:

Dr. Steven Shackford:

“I will have to reflect on your request for our personal thoughts. My prior visits to Haiti will obviously impact them and I need a little time to sort it out. As you have found out, Haitians are very special people.”

Dr. Michael Capozza:

“I want to thank you for inviting me on this trip. I didn’t have any disaster experience to speak of, but your hand-picked, ultra-dedicated SMRT staff made the learning curve very steep. It has been an honor to help resuscitate Saint Francois de Sales Hospital’s surgery capability and, more importantly, have the opportunity to provide safe and effective anesthetic care for Haitian patients in dire need of life-saving surgical procedures. On a personal level, my family recently suffered a devastating loss and we have been the recipients of overwhelming kindness from the San Diego community. I consider this mission my way of paying forward that kindness to others who have endured incomprehensible loss here in Haiti. Scripps should be proud of its accomplishments here.”

Dr. Drew Peterson:

“Scenes en route to the Archbishop’s home after surgery all day downtown at St. Francis de Sales hospital are amazing. We have seen many things in Port-au-Prince and heard stories from our patients who survived the quake – that do change you! I’m amazed at the peace and contentment many of these very gentle people seem to have, despite huge challenges. A serenity and peace we are all searching for perhaps. For me, I am reminded of Matthew 10:8 : ’Cure the sick, raise the dead…Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”

Kelly Hardiman, RN:

“I think that I leave this little country with a deeper understanding and appreciation of humanity. In one short week, the tragedy, the bravery, the passion, the endurance and hope of the Haitian people, as well as the amazing compassion of the people who have come here to help them is profound. It will be a long journey, but I am confident that we have the capacity to fill the Haiti-size hole in everyone’s heart.”

Debra McQuillen, RN:

“Through this mission I’ve been privileged to come to Port-au-Prince. The poverty here, both before and after the devastation of the earthquake, is riveting and heart wrenching. In my memory I’ll carry those images, but they don’t define Haiti for me. What does are the faces and the voices of the Haitian people and especially the patients who have touched me — their families caring for them lovingly, the communities that the hospital tents developed into. In these I’ve glimpsed the beauty of the nation of Haiti that I’ve yet to see in the physical landscape. I hope to return.”

As our people return and we complete our first phase of response, I’ll continue to update you.

So, until the next time,

Chris Van Gorder

See the Haiti news page for other journal entries.