Mid-South missions consider a return to Haiti after quake

By Jamel Major - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The powerful quake that hit Haiti Tuesday has several Mid-South churches and doctors who conduct missions in Haiti considering a return.

Dr. Gordon Kraus of Haiti Medical Missions of Memphis said his team of roughly 20 volunteer medical and health care professionals on edge.

"Unbelievable turmoil, infections, worse malnutrition and chaos in the months to come, I'm afraid," Kraus said.

The Haiti Medical Missions of Memphis began as a health ministries outreach program for the Church of the Holy Spirit in Memphis.   Their mission is to receive donations of medical supplies and used equipment for the Haitian people.

Dr. Kraus said the organization now needs bandages, cleaning supplies, toothbrushes, and over the counter pain relievers.

In 2001, the organization opened a permanent free clinic in Haiti to assist people in need.  It is currently located about 15 to 20 miles from the epicenter of the quake.

Dr. Kraus and his team said they are anxious to hear how the facility may have been impacted by the devastation.

"I assume the clinic is functioning and standing and was not damaged," Kraus said.  "The real question is was our water source disrupted?  Was our energy source disrupted?"

Members of the group were planning a trip from Memphis to Haiti this March, but they are now hoping to travel there sooner, so they can assess the damage and help those who need it.

The clinic sees approximately 20 thousand patients per year and is staffed on a full time basis.

Volunteers across the Mid-South are also doing their part to provide assistance to Haiti, which is in need of food, water, shelter, and medical services.

Dell Stiner, an attorney who formerly worked in the nursing profession,  was planning her 14th trip to Haiti this March.  Stiner is a member of the Parish Twinning Program of the Americas.

She and a team of about a dozen volunteers from Clarksville, Tennessee have been working to improve the quality of life in Haiti for many years.  They have sponsored a Catholic school and done fundraising to help families in need.  The group is on a now on mission to help provide supplies and medical attention to people in Haiti who have been left devastated.

Stiner said that Haiti, a country already dealing with many problems, is now facing a great deal of destruction.

"There is no infrastructure," Stiner said.  "There is no city in Haiti that has electricity 24/7, not even the capital city.  Right now, needless to say, that's probably in shambles."

So far the organization has provided medical services to about 65 thousand people.

The organization is also building a state-of-the-art hospital in West Haiti, which is scheduled to open this fall.

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