UT medical team helps Haiti

Posted on Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

The amount of infection and the resilience of the people were what surprised Dr. Milan Sen most about the recent trip he and a group of 23 medical professionals from the Texas Medical Center took to Haiti to aid earthquake victims.

“Despite some of them losing everything—their families, their homes, and having nowhere to go to—the patients we found in Haiti were in incredibly good spirits,” reported Sen, associate professor of orthopaedic surgery.

Sen and the group from Houston cared for 300 patients during their medical outreach visit Feb. 26–March 6, treating victims of the 7.0 earthquake, which hit Port-au-Prince Jan. 12.

The medical mission was organized by physician assistant Jerry Buchert, who works with Dr. Rex Marco, professor of orthopaedic surgery, and coordinated by Sacred Heart Hospital’s non-profit foundation CRUDEM. The volunteers were headquartered at Sacred Heart Hospital in Northern Haiti and cared for patients in tents and operating rooms.

The Houston group included orthopaedic surgeons, anesthesiologists, radiology technicians, intensive care unit nurses, physical therapists, physiatrists, occupational therapists, recovery room nurses, and scrub technicians and represented the Medical School, Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, Shriners Hospital for Children Houston, and The Methodist Hospital, among others.

Medical School faculty included Sen; Marco; Dr. Timothy Achor, assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery; and Dr. Didier Sciard, associate professor of anesthesiology. Orthopaedic surgery residents Drs. Matt Camarillo, John Wesley Munz, and Michael Connally also participated.

“I think we were prepared for the patients we saw because we had assembled a pretty large team covering what we thought were the important areas,” Sen said, adding that general medicine specialists were needed.

The team performed 94 operative procedures.

“The injuries were what we expected; however, the number of infections were greater than we could have anticipated. We ended up doing nonoperative treatments that we normally would have operated on due to infection rates,” Sen said.

Sen kept friends and colleagues posted on the Haiti trip through Twitter (Read Sen’s posts here).

“I used Twitter because I thought it would be easiest for those back home to communicate with me in real-time, and the feedback I received is that they did enjoy reading the Twitter posts to see what was going on from day to day,” Sen said.

— Darla Brown, Office of Communications, Medical School

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