Medical Student Missions provides unique “Learning through Service” opportunities to highly motivated volunteers. Designed for medical students, the successful field operations also involves the special skills that nurses, physicians, and other paramedical and lay volunteers bring and share while caring for the citizens of the Artibonite, the largest political Département of Haiti.
Working under the guidance and approval of Dr. Guerlyn Charlesca, the Medical Director of Hôpital Dumarsais Estimé, members of Medical Student Mission are authorized to work in all of the public hospitals and clinics in the region. The Artibonite is the epicenter of the current cholera epidemic. It has the largest number of cases and its major hospitals in Saint-Marc and Gonaïves are the hardest hit by the epidemic, but all clinics and hospitals in the region are over-whelmed triaging and managing this disease in addition to their regular duties.
In August 2010, Medical Student Missions sent 17 medical students, one physician, 3 medical assistants and an MBA candidate on a medical service project to Dessalines, situated in the Plaine de l’Artibonite department astride the Rivièr de l’Estère. Joined there by medical students from the University of New Jersey and University of Washington and eventually by two nurse practitioners along with support personnel, this group cared for over 1,600 people during a two week period.
It was from the contacts made during this trip that Medical Student Missions was asked to return with a small group over Thanksgiving to coordinate future activities and to provide immediate help in the cholera treatment center attached to the hospital in Verrettes. The organization was also asked to provide direct assistance to the nursing school in Gonaïves. This effort is being coordinated under the Director of the nursing academy, Dr Mercédes Philogêne. Medical Student Missions provided direct help with four of its students working in Verrettes alongside two nurses from the United States and other international groups. Representatives also performed on-site visitations and coordinated December activities in the cholera treatment centers at Petite-Rivière de l’Artibonites and La Chapelle. Two other clinics were chosen for future assistance as well.