Description by Dr. Jack Hale, Medical Chairperson:
Friends of Haiti’s first medical team of 23 people from the Green Bay area went to Thomazeau in 2001. Thomazeau is a large town but also an area of 55,000. It has a valley and mountains. Missions grew to cover Mahotiere, Noyau, Denigon, Montalais Grand Boulage and Mourne Boulage. Staff came from across the United States and includes The Haitian American Nurses Association from Florida. Most medications and supplies are taken in by the teams but an effort is made to purchase in Haiti too.
People walk hours to get to a clinic and are thankful. Common treatments are for infection, dysentery,diabetes, malnutrition, reflux, worms, malaria, and aches and pains. Burns and wounds are also common. About 6,000 patients are seen at clinics twice a year.
Jack’s favorite story: A woman in Montalais appeared with a large benign tumor hanging from her armpit. It weighed 20-25 lbs. She tucked in in her dress and strapped it to her chest to be able to function. She was referred for surgery to Double Harvest where a general surgeon excised the mass. Next morning as she was leaving she couldn’t hold her arm at her side due to pain of the 6 inch incision, but she smiled from ear to ear and hugged them all as she walked out the door.
In 2018 ongoing violence prevented travel to Haiti. In ’19 and ’20 all Haitian teams held clincs in Noyau. Some supplies were already there and meds etc were purchased in Haiti.
As the country is safer now a Fall mission is planned. It will be to 1 or 2 sites. Hopefully more sites can be added in coming years