A team of 17 doctors, nurses and technicians from Cooper deployed on a medical mission just days after a devastating earthquake left the country of Haiti in rubbles.

Some of the medical mission team sat down to share their experiences and thoughts about the resilience of the Haitian people. In this video, they share photos and video taken while in Jimani, Dominican Republic and Fond Parisien, Haiti.

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Last week, Cooper Orthopaedic surgeon Eric Farrell left on a two week mission to continue to provide much needed medical care to Haitians injured from the earthquake that devastated the region more than a month ago. Dr. Farrell is part of a mission organized by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the Orthopaedic Trauma Association. He was asked to provide assistance aboard the USNS Comfort, now stationed in Haiti.

He recently sent us an update about his mission:

Dr. Farrell comments, “The physical devastation is still incredible; however, it appears that some of society was getting-back to “normal.” People were out and about on the streets, walking and selling goods.”

Dr. Farrell is working with Andrew Burgess, M.D., an international leader and expert in disaster relief who helped to establish and found Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, Maryland.

Dr. Farrell writes: Wednesday, a group went to visit one of the field hospitals to triage cases to be brought to the USNS Comfort. The team identified 12 patients who needed transfer. Dr. Burgess immediately began telling the team on the Comfort about a hospital that was unbelievably well-run. It was clean, well organized and “these guys were doing great work”. There were groups from Harvard, University of Chicago, Hershey and others. There was a rehabilitation doctor there. Their ORs were clean. They knew what they could and should do and who should be transferred.

I asked him where it was and he said it was an Orphanage that was converted to a hospital called Fond Parisienne! I was so proud to hear that. This is the facility where Cooper’s medical mission team was two weeks ago and was the first group to work in transforming the Orphanage into the medical facility. The WHO has set-up a camp and has running water. A Brazilian contingent brought electricians in as well. What the Cooper team started, has become a great success story. It is having a huge impact. It is also a place that we can begin to transfer our patients to knowing they will get good care. I am hoping to get over there soon.”

“The volume of cases has dropped off considerably from 2 weeks ago, but there is still plenty for us to do. The cases are infection/wound coverage and delayed fixation. Unfortunately we are seeing a lot of infections from injured limbs. For instance, yesterday, we debrided a 12-year old boy who was sent to us from a field hospital. He had sustained a femur fracture that was infected and needed to be cleaned up. The pins became infected and he now has a severe infection that has to be operated on. Yesterday we worked on an ankle fusion, a severe distal femur fracture and repeat cleansing of the pediatric patient’s femur.”

We hope to receive more updates to share from Dr. Farrell in the coming days.

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As our medical team returned from Haiti and the Dominican Republic earlier in the week  (view photos on courierpostonline.com), they shared their stories with a number of news outlets while one reporter who traveled with the team recounted her time spent with the medical mission.

Inside Haiti: A Local Reporter Sifts Through the Rubble,  Philadelphia Weekly

Reporter Susan Phillips recounts her time traveling with our medical team in Haiti and the Dominican Republic:

It’s Thursday, January 21, nine days after the earthquake hit about 15 miles away in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Survivors continue to arrive on flatbed trucks at the one-story public hospital, hoping for medical treatment unavailable back home in the capital city. Soon after the earthquake hit, Jimaní became the back door route in and out of Haiti for thousands of people making their exodus, and thousands of others, including doctors, aid workers and journalists, trying to get inside the country. I was one of those trying to get in with a group of doctors, nurses and technicians from Cooper University Hospital in Camden, N.J. I got a call four days earlier from George Norcross, a board member of Cooper. “Susan,” he said, “are you ready to fly south?” Norcross said planes weren’t allowed to land in Port-au-Prince so he was using his company’s private jet to fly a group of doctors to Santo Domingo, in the neighboring Dominican Republic. From there they planned to make their way into Haiti. A newspaper reporter and I were to be embedded with the group.

Read the complete story online at PhiladelphiaWeekly.com.

Cooper Staff Adapted to Difficult Conditions in Haiti, Courier-Post

Scores of Haitian people endured excruciating pain as steel rods used to realign fractured bone were drilled into their legs. Such procedures in the U.S. would call for the patient to be administered a general anesthesia, said Dr. Joshua Torres-Cruz. But morphine or other powerful pain medications were in short supply for survivors of the Jan. 12 earthquake that left many with limbs crushed by collapsed buildings. Instead, Torres-Cruz said, the patients were given a spinal anesthesia that numbed their lower extremities and painkillers comparable to aspirin. That was one of the many experiences Torres-Cruz brought back with him from Haiti as part of a Cooper University Hospital medical team that was welcomed home Monday after spending 12 days in the Caribbean country.

Read the full story online at CourierPostOnline.com.

Cooper Hospital Team Returns from Haiti to a Hero’s Welcome, KYW1060.com

As Cooper workers clapped and cheered, medical team leader Dr. Anthony Mazzarelli read off the names of the 18 hospital team members who spent nearly two weeks working on the Haitian-Dominican border, providing thousands of injured patients with emergency surgical and critical care.

Listen to the complete report and view a slideshow of photos on KYW1060.com.

Burlington County Docs, Nurses Return From Haiti, Burlington County Times

A team of local medical professionals returned Friday after spending 12 days in Haiti treating earthquake survivors. The 18 volunteers were sent from Cooper University Hospital to provide much-needed medical care to injured victims of the 7.0-magnitude quake that devastated the impoverished Caribbean nation on Jan. 12. The mission trip was coordinated by Cinnaminson resident Dr. Anthony Mazzarelli, director of Emergency Medicine at Cooper, and was funded by the city hospital and The Norcross Foundation.

Read the full story on PhillyBurbs.com.

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Today, Cooper University Hospital welcomed back a group of 18 doctors, nurses and technicians from a 12-day medical mission to Haiti.

“We’re proud to welcome home the team of medical professionals from Cooper who spent nearly two weeks providing care to the thousands of people injured in the Haitian earthquake,” said John P. Sheridan, Jr., President and CEO of Cooper. “Congratulations on a job well done.”

“Cooper Hospital opened its doors in 1887 as a Charity Hospital and its mission was clear: to provide medical care to those most in need,” said George E. Norcross, III, Chairman of Cooper and The Norcross Foundation. “Today, more than a century later, that mission continues through the medical professionals that care for patients every day at Cooper and beyond our borders. This mission is an example of true dedication to the profession of medicine.”

Anthony Mazzarelli, M.D., J.D., M.B.E., Director of Emergency Medicine at Cooper, planned the mission and organized the team in Haiti. “We were amazed at the strength, resilience, and gratitude of the Haitian people. Our entire team was humbled by the experience,” he said. “We feel thankful for the opportunity to be reminded why we entered the field of healthcare. Our team is incredibly grateful to the entire Cooper Family for providing the resources, the support, and the opportunity to continue the mission of Cooper in a part of the world that desperately needed our help.”

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The Cooper Haiti Response Team, having transitioned care to the many international healthcare workers that arrived in Jimani and Fond Parisien, is now on their way home to the United States.

The team has expressed amazement at the strength, resilience, and gratitude of the Haitian people. While they provided care that would have otherwise not been available, they feel mostly thankful for the opportunity to be reminded why they entered the healthcare field. They are incredibly grateful to the entire Cooper Family and the Norcross Foundation for providing the resources, the support, and the opportunity to continue the Cooper mission in a part of the world that desperately needed these resources.

Below are some further reflections of team members as they return home:

Dr. Nick Erbrich

A young boy, twisting and turning, crying in his sleep as his father frantically tries to awaken him; a girl screaming in pain as her leg wound from an amputation is being changed and redressed; another boy’s eyes filling with tears as he gazes for the first time upon his right hand, realizing two of his fingers are no longer there; scores of women, men, and children crowding into small tents, others sharing a single mattress, clutching whatever belongings remain from a previous life of little means; a young first-time mother holding her newborn baby girl, smiling with love and devotion as her proud husband watches over both, grateful for his fortune; the cheerful sound of singing voices filling the air with joy as I watch my patients join in unison in a peaceful prayer; caring individuals from all over the world and from every walk of life, working together to care for those in most need – these are the images imprinted upon me and I hope I will never forget them.

I was reminded once again of why I became a physician and was utterly amazed by the miracles I witnessed every day. Too many times we only hear about the evils around us and seem to forget that there is a lot of good and beauty in this world, and that a few can make a difference. Some may ask if our presence has made an impact in the aftermath of this great tragedy. I like to think it has. One of our great strengths is to come together in the face of adversity, adapt, and overcome.

As I gaze out the window, headed towards home, I see an open road, a road towards hope not just for the people of Haiti but all humankind.

Dr. Sam Negin

We came to Haiti to treat people in need and we found thousands of people who needed help. We arrived in Jimani and asked “How can we help?” and gave help where it was needed. This was not only in the medical care of patients, but also in the delivering of medical care in the most humane and pain-free way possible.

I had the opportunity to travel to all the sites our team worked. The directors at the sites were all impressed and appreciative with the efforts of our team and the support from Cooper University Hospital.

I am very proud of the accomplishments of the Cooper Team both in New Jersey and on location. It was a humbling and gratifying experience providing medical care and humanitarian aid to people in need. We could not have accomplished all that we did without the assistance from Cooper University Hospital, the volunteers and medical staff we met in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and the graciousness of the host countries. We give thanks to everyone we met and for all assistance we received. In a country devastated by a natural disaster, I found hope, resilience, determination, caring, and fellowship wherever I went and am truly grateful to be part of a team that helped in every way they could, with hearts, hands, skill, and caring.

Dr. Angela Dixon

When you think about the thousands that have suffered from the earthquake, it’s hard to believe that our team of 18 has made any kind of significant impact in the lives of the Haitian people. When we first arrived, all we saw was chaos. Patients were everywhere, their injuries were grave, and their faces showed fear and hurt. It seemed like an insurmountable mission. I quickly learned how every small amount of care helps.

The patients were always so thankful for our efforts. Most of them had only the clothes on their back and the mattresses we gave them. Instead of being sad, they prayed and rejoiced. On Sunday, our triage was taken over by Christian mass. I have never seen anything so beautiful. They were all on their feet singing, dancing and thanking God.

The day we left the orphanage, I began to see families looking more healthy and lively. I saw more smiles that day than ever before, which made me feel like we have really helped these people. I’m sure these people have impacted me as much, if not more, than I have impacted them.

Dr. David Fuller

Moving to Fond Parisien within the Haitian border for our final days represents an early effort to return these injured Haitians back to their country. We worked side by side with Haitian doctors and nurses caring for the injured. Haitian families were being identified and reconnected within the camp. Hundreds are expected daily to move toward this camp in the coming days as it becomes a safe haven for both medical and nonmedical needs. The Haitian nationals and the volunteers running the orphanage prior to the earthquake expressed tremendous gratitude toward our team for its compassionate care. Numerous compliments were received for our ability to work with others and respect the dignity of the people. As time goes by, this approach — working with local resources — will become increasingly important. At some point, the outside volunteerism will diminish and the sick and injured will be left in the hands of the Haitians. As the recovery moves forward, it is essential that we continue to empower, educate and partner with local Haitian resources (doctors, nurses, therapists, prosthetists, medical centers) to care for their own people.

Hildegarde Cadet, R.N.

In reflecting back, I realized the Cooper Team made an impact each place we set up because when it was time to say goodbye and move on, no one wanted us to leave. I am proud to be a part of Cooper’s Haiti Response Team because we could feel that we had competently completed our mission at each of the four locations we served. Personal thanks to the team for working so well together.

For Additional Medical Mission Updates:

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The Cooper Team continues its three mission lines. The Intermediate Intensive Care Unit at Good Samaritan is inching closer to becoming a full ICU and the Cooper Team is helping in that transition. Many patients at the Church, mostly pediatrics at this point, are improving. The Cooper Team is still helping to staff this area and, because of our expertise in pediatric emergency medicine, travel with patients who need to go to more acute care areas.

The majority of the team is now staffing and camping at Fond Parisien. It has amazed everyone on the team how this orphanage has been transformed into what is now being called the “Haitian Earthquake Relief Center of Fond Parisien.” Starting with little more than an open field and a few empty buildings, a functioning medical camp has been created in just a few days and with the Cooper Team comprising the majority of the healthcare force. This camp has become an orthopaedic rehabilitation center for the earthquake victims that had orthopaedic surgery and procedures, as well as a functioning transfer hospital for Haitian patients to be treated in their home country.

There are over 300 patients now housed in tents. Special tent sections include those for amputees and patients with external fixators. There are now five mobile operating rooms from the Dominican Republic and two new operating rooms were just completed today, supported by an Operation Smile team that arrived yesterday. Preoperative and postoperative services are now in place. Radiology is now operational. Plans exist for treating over 1,000 patients at this location within the next week and as many as 5,000 over the next month.

After three days of hard work, our team is focusing on transition. As more healthcare workers arrive, our work is to create a seamless transfer of patient care. Emphasis continues to be on successful cooperation among healthcare workers from various nations and doing the work necessary to care for the Haitians.

From Fond Parisien

Dr. Sam Negin: I spent my day helping to support the team’s activities. We made a trip into Jimani to pick up a team of doctors we met during our time here. They too have a diverse group of doctors. They will also bring anesthesia capability to this facility. They are also now working with the Cooper Team on the Medical Supply Room, creating an Operating Room, and creating a PACU (post-anesthesia care unit).

At night, I took over for the team during a “night shift”. There were a variety of issues we addressed, including a full arm cast which we had to cut off. Though normally straight forward, this was made more complex given that there was no light and had to be done by headlamp, near the generator, our only electricity source, with the patient on a small fold out chair.

From Team Members from Fond Parisien: Yesterday, a team of Cooper Emergency Medicine doctors staffed the intake tent at the Haiti Earthquake Relief Center. This is the intake for patients being transferred out of acute care facilities, a walk-in clinic for locals and others who came from further in Haiti who had not yet had medical care after the earthquake. There is also a holding area for patients that are unstable and require transport back to acute care facilities. We had a busy day checking wounds, splinting and casting fractures and sprains, and working with social issues for patients who wished to return home rather than stay at the camp.

Notable patients include a 10-year-old boy with a posterior hip dislocation who had not yet been seen by a doctor 13 days after the earthquake, a woman who had an emergency fasciotomy the night before who became unstable, and an 8-year-old boy who acutely deteriorated due to an intracranial process.

The work in this area is very satisfying. It feels good to be able to greet these patients as they enter the camp environment, be able to provide care and stabilization for them, and to direct them to a comfortable place to rest and rehab while other organizations work on rebuilding local communities and camps for the well population.

For Additional Medical Mission Updates:


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The medical team is now seeing an increase in patients arriving at the makeshift transfer/rehabilitation hospital in Fond Parisien, Haiti. The secured grounds are quite large and many tents have been set up for patient care and intake. There is now food, running water, and electricity at this makeshift hospital. The Cooper team has set up a campsite with other healthcare volunteers adjacent to the patient care area. All patients entering the facility are initially assessed by members of the Cooper Team and are then sent to one of three staging areas; acute/nonambulatory, subacute/nonambulatory, and ambulatory.

The facility in Fond Parisien is a former orphanage and our team helped convert some areas to become operating rooms. Other areas are now designated as Radiology in anticipation of the arrival of x-ray equipment. Dr. Fuller and his team treated several orthopedic patients in this space today. The Cooper team continues to pay close attention to the wounds and follow-up care on the many patients they have treated over the last several days.

Our only pediatric physician continues to treat patients at both the Church and the Chapel in the Dominican Republic, floating between the locations while taking care of critically ill children.

There are only 12 ICU beds in the Dominican Republic and they exist in a separate region from Jimani. Equipment and supplies to create a full Intensive Care Unit is being gathered in Jimani. Our own Dr. Ian Butler was able to greet the team from the Society of Critical Care Medicine and give them the tour of the existing facility as they prepare to build the new ICU.

Media Note: Dr. Anthony Mazzarelli was LIVE this morning from Haiti on the CW Philly. Click here to view his interview.

For Additional Medical Mission Updates:

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The Cooper Medical Team had a busy Sunday as part of the team transitioned, along with many patients, from the Municipal Hospital in Jimani, Dominican Republic, to Fond Parisien, a hospital located a few miles inside the Haitian border. The team is camping in one of the compound’s central courtyards so that maximum space can be used for patient care.

In just a few days, nearly 200 patients were moved to this area from parts of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. That number is expected to climb to 1,000 over the next few days and as much as 5,000 in the following weeks.

Patients who arrived today to Fond Parisien were seen by the Cooper Team. Most of the patients arrived from other healthcare facilities, but they still continue to see people for initial care since the earthquake. For the first time, the team is starting to see medical conditions beyond traumatic injuries from the earthquake.

The Cooper Team has established an “external fixator clinic” inside the new compound and many, if not most, of those patients were operated on by Dr. David Fuller and his supporting team. The goal of the clinic is to make sure those patients have proper care for specific needs from their orthopedic injuries.

The Cooper team that was providing care to patients at the Church has also joined the group at Pond Parisien. Many of the patients from the Church were either discharged or are also being moved to Pond Parisien.

The third group continues to take a lead in organizing the Intermediate Critical Care Unit at Good Samaritan and is coordinating with officials to increase the capacity and complexity of the ICU.

“Landing with a team to provide care to victims of the earthquake in Haiti, it was a tremendous help to connect with the Cooper Team which has really taken a lead with organization,” said Michael Vitale, M.D., M.P.H., of Children’s Hospital of New York, Associate Chief of Pediatric Orthopedics. “They have helped our team make maximum impact for patients as quickly as possible. It is amazing what they have done so far.”

For Additional Medical Mission Updates:

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At this time, the drive to collect crutches and canes for Haiti has officially ended. The outpouring of support from our region has been overwhelming and more than 4,000 sets of crutches, canes and walkers were collected.

As previously stated, the first shipment of crutches arrived in the Dominican Republic on Friday and immediately made their way into Haiti. We are finalizing the logistics to have the rest of the supplies transported to Haiti this week. We are grateful for the care and compassion shown by the many people from all over the Delaware Valley who participated in this drive and made it so successful.

The Cooper medical team has told us that 80% of the patients they are treating have severe lower extremity crush injuries and amputations therefore these crutches and canes are very much in need.

If you missed the reports, here’s video from Fox 29 and 6ABC showing the truckloads of crutches being loaded for their 1,500 mile trip to Haiti:

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The first shipment of medical supplies and crutches arrived yesterday in Santo Domingo and are now en route to the injured.

The team continued to provide care through its three missions. In the Chapel, they were providing Intermediate Critical Care. In the Church, they provided care to Medical/Surgical patients, as well as Pediatrics. The third team worked in Good Samaritan Hospital again. The group at the municipal hospital, across the street, continued to work in and out of the operating room handling amputations, debridements, and external fixation placement. Most importantly, our medical team continued to be the driving force in organizing patient care and follow through with wound care at that location.

As patients begin to stabilize, the teams were working to move the patients to a different location to make room for new patients still arriving daily. As a result, a medical facility has been established in an orphanage/clinic about 3 miles inside the Haitian border. It is a location being organized by Partners in Health, which is affiliated with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard University. Our medical team has been asked by the Dominican Republic Health Minister and the local Governor to work with Partners in Health to have some of our team staff this location as patients are transferred to this facility. The Cooper team was chosen because of the quality of care they have been providing and their knowledge of and relationship with these patients. The facility is very secure and both the Dominican Republic and United States Military are in the area.

Here are some comments from individual team members about their experiences yesterday:

From the group at Good Samaritan:

Last night we spoke with an American volunteer who moved to the Dominican Republic three weeks ago for his retirement. His cousin had just flown in to visit him. They both had planned a weekend golf trip to celebrate their birthdays. Instead they drove to Jimani to volunteer as paramedics in the hospital. This entire trip demonstrates the power of the human spirit – not only for Haitians but also for the hundreds of people who were determined to help in difficult moments. For the paramedic, he had experienced the California earthquake and could immediately understand the experiences of those impacted by this disaster. Everyone here has a story and their stories are powerful and can change the world.

More from Good Samaritan (Dr. Nithin Puri):

Currently, I am taking care of approximately 50 patients with a nurse from Boston and my Haitian friends. It’s been satisfying, because I have alleviated some suffering and numbed a little pain. My big victory this evening was turning the lights out in the open air chapel, so the patients could get a good night of sleep. It’s difficult, because every night the children wake up screaming with nightmares. Quarters are close and these gut wrenching screams, unnerve everyone. Therefore, when the noise died down and people actually began to get sleep, I felt relieved. Relieved from what, is the question?

From the group at the municipal hospital:

Today the Cooper team continues to assist with limb stabilization and wound care for the many patients suffering from the trauma. During rounds numerous heartbreaking stories were heard from the survivors. Compassionate surgical, medical, nursing and rehabilitative care was provided by the team in cooperation with the Dominican Republic staff at this small hospital. A tremendous volume of patients transitioned through this hospital whose primary purposes were to provide triage, limb stabilization and initiate wound care. Concern mounts regarding the future for these severely injured patients and where the continuum of care can be provided.

More from the group at the municipal hospital:

Today we returned to the public hospital to continue wound care and rounding on the inpatients. We continued to see horrible wounds in unthinkable numbers. Particularly striking were the bad wounds on the pediatric patients. One 7-year-old girl had a recent foot amputation in Haiti and was transferred to the hospital for further care. We had to open her dressings to assess her wounds and found the wound edges had a green tint. We decided to open her suture to allow drainage and found a huge collection of pus, signs of a serious infection. Although we used lidocaine and morphine, the girl was in a lot of pain, both physical and emotional, with the wound care. However, at the end of the procedure, all she said was “merci”. The patients have amazing strength and resilience. We were concerned about many patients leaving for a rehab today with severe wounds and hope tomorrow to visit the rehab facility and see if we can continue caring for these sick patients there.

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