Saturday, January 12, 2008

January 2008 Trip 11

For most outsiders, Haiti typifies a failed state of insurrections, poverty and social malaise. It has always stood out in the media as the dark side of Hispaniola, the island Haiti shares with the more laid-back Dominican Republic. But a look beyond the headlines reveals a kind and deeply spiritual people, who reach back to their African roots more than any other Caribbean nation.

Haiti’s difference lies in its history: after independence in 1804 the country was isolated from the full brunt of European colonial influences. Art, influenced by the fascinating Vodou culture, has dominated life ever since.

Although Haiti’s lack of infrastructure, grinding poverty and ravaged environment may leave even the most hardened traveler somewhat shell-shocked, it is still a very rewarding place to visit.

Lonely Planet – Caribbean Islands 2007

It took me several days to recover from this last trip. The week usually ends in physical fatigue and emotional overload. If the mere traveler is “somewhat shell-shocked” then visitors to northern Haiti’s government hospital have reason to be extremely shell-shocked. Fortunately all the patients and crew members of the voyage survived the record breaking trip, both parties being tested to the physical limits of the human body. Mentally and spiritually we were all transformed by the events of the week.

Several new team members accompanied us on the trip:

  • Cris Sherman DO – orthopaedic resident, Riverside, CA
  • Ed O’laughlin MD – anesthesiologist, Baltimore, MD
  • Terry Piper MD – orthopaedic surgeon, St. Louis, MO
  • Christy Piper – pre-med student, St. Louis, MO
  • Chuck McDonald – physical therapist, St. Louis, MO

In addition to myself the returning members were:

  • Maria Adrian MD – anesthesiologist, CURE Santo Domingo, DR
  • Lucia Hernandez – nurse, CURE Santo Domingo, DR
  • Bernhard Ahrens – architect and hotel owner, Santo Domingo, DR

A mob of Haitians on strike at the border caused some delays en route to Cap Haitian, but after some negotiations with group leaders we were able to convince them to let us pass. We had to leave our vehicle behind but were able to load ourselves and our equipment onto a truck on the other side of the border and complete the trip. Some of the new team members seemed to be somewhere between amusement and fear during the whole process.

Not until we arrived at Hospital Justinien did it become clear to our first time teammates what the motivation was behind the perseverance it took to transact the border crossing, assimilate our medical team, equipment, and travel the distance to Cap Haitian. The first day of the trip we saw over 140 patients including some follow up visits on some of our previous patients. We operated 37 patients some of whom had bilateral or multiple procedures. In between each case during the entire week we would evaluate more patients, change casts, and transfer patients amongst other things. Dr. Sherman commented that the time we were working least hard was when we were scrubbed in and operating. Although many of the traumatic injuries we saw had occurred in the weeks and months prior, we treat them as orthopaedic emergencies knowing that if we do not take care of them nobody will. Two nights during the week we operated until 4 am. Fortunately the inverter we installed last year gave us uninterrupted power throughout the week and allowed us to operate late into the night without delays and additional risk to our patients.

Another encouraging aspect of the trip was the progress made with our Ponseti clubfoot casting program. Our Haitian technician “Mano” has progressed very nicely with his techniques. He was able to participate in a refresher course in Port au Prince in November that was organized by Andy Mayo and Kaye Wilkins. His reputation is spreading and many children are now coming at earlier ages and the results have improved dramatically.

The week also allowed for a bit of time to meet with the hospital administration and some of the surgeons to better understand their needs and formalize some of our goals for the future of these trips. Bernhard played an essential role in these meetings. Not only is he a great help in improving the physical plant – water, electricity etc. but also is an expert at international communications, empowering the people, and breaking down the some of the barriers to progression.

We go to serve – without pay, but inevitably return with more than we give.

The angels of heaven join us in helping others. They are sent to minister to all who need and choose to be saved, and when we open our doors to help the poor and suffering, they join us, bringing a holy atmosphere of joy and peace. Every helpful act of mercy makes music in heaven.

Jerry D. Thomas, Messiah, Pacific Press 2005

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

CURE Haiti

Orthopaedic surgery is being performed at the Hopital Adventiste d'Haiti for post traumatic, congenital and developmental orthopaedic disorders.  Children and Adults of all ages are treated.

Clinics run MWF 8 am-3pm.

Contact info:
Francel Alexis MD
Hopital Adventiste d'Haiti
Diquini 63 Carrefour
Port au Prince

For further questions email


Keeping in mind Christ's words in Matthew 6:1-4

"Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them...when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.

it was with careful deliberation and intentions to avoid self-glorification that I decided to create this blogspot for the following purposes:
  • To express gratitude to the donors who so generously have supported CURE and our work in the Dominican Republic and Haiti
  • To repay the encouragement and support given to us by our CURE home office family who deserve to see the images and read the stories of the lives being changed by their efforts in a nondescript Pennsylvania warehouse
  • To inspire others to understand the benefits of sacrifice and engage themselves in caring for those less fortunate
  • To give information for visitors planning long or short term work with CURE International in the Dominican Republic and Haiti
  • To provide contact information for patients and organizations seeking high quality orthopaedic treatment in the Dominican Republic and Haiti
As the Medical Director of CURE International Dominican Republic and Haiti this site is authored by myself and other authorized persons but is not an official publication of CURE International and although it is written with discretion it does not strictly adhere to HIPAA regulations.

Contact Information

CURE International
Centro de Ortopedia y Especialidades
Francia esq Leopoldo Navarro 129
Santo Domingo, Republica Dominicana

We are located "en frente el Palacio de la Policia" in Gazcue. For those arriving from outside the capital this is just across Av. 27 Febrero from the Caribe Tours bus terminal.

Orthopedic clinics are Monday, Wednesday and Friday 9-3.
Neurosurgery clinic is on Wednesday afternoons.
General Surgery clinic is on Tuesday.
Pediatrician is available Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

Initial consultation is $150 RD for children and $500 RD for adults. X-rays and lab are extra. No appointment is necessary and patients are seen in the order of arrival time.

If a private appointment is desired with Dr. Nelson the charge is $1500 RD (plus x-ray and lab if needed). Please call to schedule.

For further questions please call 809-682-5022 or email