This website is dedicated to the revitalization and support of Hospital Adventiste d’Haiti (HAH) in general and the orthopedic surgical program in particular. Our involvement began with the devastating earthquake on January 12, 2010 that plunged Haiti deeper into darkness ultimately killing over 200,000 of its inhabitants. At the time, orthopedic surgeon Scott Nelson was working for the CURE hospital across Hispaniola in Santo Domingo where the trembler felt like just another California earthquake.
But soon word arrived that the situation was far worse, representing the greatest accumulation of orthopedic injuries to occur in one place at one time in the modern world. Having made 19 previous trips to operate in Haiti, Dr. Nelson was able to rapidly mobilize a lean team and fly 160 miles to the west in a small plane landing in Port au Prince less than 48 hours after the earthquake. On his Cure Caribe website he noted “We lifted off without knowing if we would be able to land in Port au Prince or if there would be anyone to receive us. It was like going into a black hole as we had no information aside from what we were seeing on CNN. We were prepared with food and water to survive for 2 days and no return ticket.”
For the first 72 hours after the quake there was still not a single operation functioning at any hospital except for HAH where the innovative local medical director had created an operating room tent out of surgical drapes and was performing life saving amputations in front of the hospital. At every facility there were hundreds of languishing patients, most of whom were laying outside due to fear of aftershocks. Many of them were developing gangrene, some dying, and others already dead. It was utter chaos and no help was in sight. Scott and his team made brief visits to assess the operating facilities at 6 different hospitals ultimately settling in at HAH.
Over the next few weeks and months hundreds of volunteers in all capacities travelled to HAH to assist in the recovery which continues today. Thousands of operations have been performed and countless lives have been saved and transformed through sophisticated surgical reconstructions. Scott and his wife Marni left Haiti officially in July of 2010 but have returned several times each year to facilitate the program.
In November of the same year, orthopedic surgeon Terry Dietrich and his wife Jeannie, a registered nurse, left their home in Wisconsin dedicating a year of their lives in service to the patients at HAH. They too continue to return on a yearly basis and have been an invaluable asset to the advances that have been made at the hospital. You can read more about their service on their blog Orthopedic Ministries of the Caribbean.
For the past few years, the orthopedic program at HAH has been privileged to have a fulltime Haitian orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Francel Alexis in residence who is carrying on the high standard of musculoskeletal excellence initiated by the Nelsons and Dietrichs and numerous others. But there is much work to be done and your Donations and Volunteer efforts continue to be solicited and greatly appreciated.
This website is moderated by orthopedic surgeon Jim Matiko. Over the years, Jim has been on several short-term mission trips (Haiti, Nepal, Bhutan, Malawi) but has yet to make a long-term commitment hence the self-ascribed moniker, “Metro Volunteer.” Please feel free to contact him with questions, concerns or suggestions. It can be assumed that, unless otherwise identified, all posts were drafted by Jim. It is also important to note that this website is independent of, and has no official association with, Adventist Health International, Global Health Institute, Loma Linda University Health or Amistad International or any other reputable organization.