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.
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