Why a medical doctor who helped a child in Haiti is helping a child again
Medical students from across the country are working to provide the Haitian people with lifesaving medical care, as well as the best possible way to save lives.
They are also doing so with a heavy dose of skepticism.
For Dr. Charles Mignon, an infectious disease specialist from Virginia, who teaches in the U.S. at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Haiti’s medical crisis has forced him to ask: “Is it possible to help people in need while also being a doctor?”
“What is a doctor to do?”
Mignons questions come up regularly at his Haitian clinics, where he works with the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (NAPPS).
“I’ve been here for more than a decade and I’ve seen enough trauma to know how dangerous the situation is,” Mignón says.
“I know there are people who have died waiting for an answer, who’ve lost their lives, and there are families who don’t know how to get their loved ones back.
“That’s what Haiti needs.””
Dr. Charles A. Smith, a pediatrician at New York University School of Medicine, is also a nurse practitioner. “
That’s what Haiti needs.”
Dr. Charles A. Smith, a pediatrician at New York University School of Medicine, is also a nurse practitioner.
Like Mignson, he believes medical professionals are helping to alleviate the countrys humanitarian crisis, but he says that in some cases, they are not.
Smith and others say that while the United States is providing aid, Haiti is not yet equipped to handle it, or to meet its humanitarian needs.
The countrys leaders are “too focused on political survival,” Smith says.
“They’re not investing in the healthcare system that is needed,” he adds.
“They’re going to take their own medicine.”
Smith’s own experience with Haiti’s healthcare system has given him an idea of what needs to be done: he is a father of a child who died of pneumonia two years ago and has had to put his son on a ventilator.
The father of three has now given up his day job as a security guard, working instead as a health educator, helping his students with CPR and other emergency care.
“I’m not saying it’s going to be easy,” Smith admits.
“But I am trying to get through it.”
Smith says that while he has seen firsthand how difficult life can be for Haitians who live in the midst of the pandemic, he also believes that there is hope.
“We can help,” he says.