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ACTG: Tragedy in Haiti and at GHESKIO
DATE: January 15, 2010
TO: ACTG Network
Dear Colleagues:
It is with great sadness that I forward on to you the following communication from Bill Pape in Haiti. We have been unable to establish consistent communication with GHESKIO directly, but have continued to receive brief messages through other means. We all cherish the friends, colleagues and patients we work with all over the world, but it is very hard to for all of us to hear such news about Haiti and to imagine what our unit at GHESKIO must be going through right now. For all of you who are able to communicate with anyone at GHESKIO, please let them know our hearts and prayers are with them. The ACTG network and especially the partners units that work with GHESKIO are working to determine how best we can provide support and assistance both in this emergent phase of need as well as in the foreseeable future. We are working with the protocol teams for those studies established at GHESKIO to determine how we might continue to support the patients. Ian Sanne at WITS has begun exploring the deployment of a mobile laboratory that may assist in providing laboratory services for the unit as they try to get back on their feet. The Cornell unit has established a mechanism through their website to assist in donations to Haiti and GHESKIO ( I am passing along a simple way to donate through the Red Cross via your cell phones and PDAs. To do so, text the word ‘Haiti’ to 90999 using your SMS function. This message will result in a donation of $10 each time you do this and will be charged to your cell phone bill. You can repeat the message as many times as you wish. Several of us who work with other NGOs and philanthropic organizations are putting together plans for additional support services and mechanisms for donations that we hope will directly help our friends at GHESKIO as they strive to work through this difficult time. Please let us know if there are other opportunities any of you might be considering that will help us to provide critical support and resources to Haiti and our friends and patients there. Thank you.
I am extremely sorry to confirm that we have documented at least 1 major loss: Maryse Thimothee, Head of our Bacteriology lab died as well as her mother when the roof of their house fell. Maryse was extremely well trained, a fine person and a dedicated worker and teacher. This is a huge loss to her family, to GHESKIO and to the country. Not yet confirmed is the death of Dr Sandy Nerette s' child. I am looking for all the other employees and asking all of you to ask about any one in your unit. Please spread the word around. I fear that we may hear more bad news from our staff. Please inform Mrs Camille if anyone is missing in your unit. As you may know the Hotel Montana where some of you may have stayed has completely collapsed. Nadine Cardozzo the owner died as well as the Head of the UN forces in Haiti. Many major police stations have collapsed which may explain the reason so few policemen are in the streets. The Largest National Prison where we have a program is completely destroyed and over 5,000 prisoners some of them dangerous have escaped. The National palace and the national cathedral have collapsed.
The damages are very important at both GHESKIO sites: We have no internet access et either site. In addition at GHESKIO-IMIS the walls fell over the reservoir of gas and all the fuel was lost. We need to purchase quickly a new one before we can use the power generators. I have taken some pictures at both GHESKIO sites but do not have the time to send them to you. The situation is apocalyptic. In addition as the entire wall of GHESKIO along Blvd Harry Truman fell. We have over 1,000 people who are on the soccer field as they have lost their home and have no place to go. I need urgently water, food and some security to avoid chaos. We must put the wall back to have some control and assure security. It may take some time before we can put the wall back. Some buildings at the downtown locations have huge cracks and are not safe to work particularly at the downtown location. Over the next few months we will have 3 missions:
1. Provide the best care to patients with HIV, TB and other infectious diseases already enrolled at our site and continue to provide care to new ones
2. Offer basic medical and surgical care to victims of the earthquake. We must establish a triage unit with the capacity to refer those in need of traumatic care to at least 1 or 2 hospitals. I am studying this possibility and will have a solution by tomorrow. We will need specialized medical and surgical teams from Vanderbilt and Cornell. One important issue is logistics for the foreigners coming to help. I am seeking to rent a house as 3 of the major hotels have collapsed and there are no rooms available at hotel. We could set-up their transport to their place of residence and workplace.
3. Offer immediate assistance with basic services to the large population in our premises: tents, portable toilets, food and water.
We have done it before. We can do it again. We are no choice: we are the only hope for those who have lost everything. The public system is completely overwhelmed.
More when I have a chance.
Bill Pape
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