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Format: 04/24/2014
Format: 04/24/2014

News

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: In Leogane, doctors try to save lives and limbs

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

By Dennis B. Roddy, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

LEOGANE, Haiti -- This city vanished in a cloud of brick, dust and blood, and a team of Pittsburgh doctors is attempting to piece the survivors back together.

"There'll never be an accurate account of how many people are dead," said Dave Lebec, a doctor from Bradford Woods who was among a team that flew here on Sunday, part of a crew working with the Medical Benevolence Foundation.

Leogane was at the epicenter of the Jan. 11 earthquake that flattened so much of the western hemisphere's poorest nation. In this town, 80 percent of the population was already living in poverty. Now, they also are living outdoors.

"It's very much hand-to-mouth living right now," Dr. Lebec said.

Much of the city's remaining census could be taken outside the chain-link gates of the FSIL Nursing School. It somehow survived the quake and became headquarters for a clinic that sees an unceasing stream of wounded.

Tents, shacks, lean-to sheds and anything else that resembles a shelter are lined up in a grid. Haitians driven from their homes expect to be here a while: they have numbered the sectors, put up signs and given their makeshift streets names.

A crew from CARE came through town to assess needs. Klaus Palkovits of the Austrian Red Cross did an assessment for the U.N.

"You can see the destruction here is almost 100 percent," Mr. Palkovits said.

Dr. Lebec recalled his ride into town.

"The buildings were collapsed. Some of the roads were impassable," he said. Professional schools around the island were especially hard hit. Institutes for economics, universities, training schools -- almost all of them multi-story buildings -- toppled.

"A lot of the Haitian leaders of tomorrow are lost," he said.

He is an anesthesiologist -- a profession deeply needed in this city where limbs were crushed as buildings pancaked onto themselves, trapping the survivors.

Initial surgeries, by a team from Japan, lacked pain killers.

The doctors, led by Chip Lambert of Allegheny General Hospital, set up in the FSIL Nursing School. The hospital nearby fell in the quake.

 

To read more, visit the Post-Gazette website.

 

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