Ruth Henri, RN, BS, says her training as a nurse and nearly three decades in the healthcare field has made her an expert at filling out paperwork. In the urgency to get supplies shipped to victims of an international tragedy, theres still important and complicated paperwork required as rescue efforts get under way.
Henri, who has been in the nursing field for 22 years, including the past 10 years with MJHS Home Cares Brooklyn-based First to Care Home Care Inc. program, was born in Haiti and has lived in the U.S. for 29 years. So last year when Haiti was hit by one of the worst natural disasters to dominate worldwide media headlines in recent memory, Henri began investigating what she could do to help from home.
Everything that is done today requires lots of paperwork and clearance, especially for arranging shipment of medical supplies, Henri says. I know this from experience, and Im used to filling out forms and requests. When theres no time to spare, as a nurse, you do what needs to be done.Ruth Henri, RN
More than 230,000 people died in the 7.0 magnitude earthquake Jan. 12, 2010. A year later, Henri says more than 1 million Haitians still are living under tents and there have been more than 2,600 people who have died from the cholera outbreak in October.
Like so many nurses, immediately after the tragedy, Henri began working with local organizations to help fund mission trips and supply shipments to Haiti to assist the initial makeshift clinics created by the first response teams.
For the past 10 years, she has worked closely with the Association Moronaise of New York, a nonprofit support organization dedicated to serving the needs of those in Haiti.
Much of our time previous to the earthquake was helping with everything from building schools to programs for clean water, Henri says. After the earthquake, since I also still have my family in Haiti, I began to use my personal resources to help our group with making the emergency contacts we need to help while continuing our efforts right here. We teamed with the Catholic Charities organization to send cargo shipments of clothes, books and supplies, and I worked with my contacts at the consulate to get these things there as quickly as possible.
Most recently, Henri also organized a fundraising event in January. It featured music and food from Haiti along with awareness programs and speakers, raising more than $3,000 to send directly to contacts already in the country assisting with rebuilding efforts.Rachel Lok, RN
Rachel Lok, RN, a nurse case manager at GuildNet, a managed long-term home healthcare plan of the Jewish Guild for the Blind of New York, also had been assisting with efforts to aid Haiti before and after last years earthquake.
Just 10 days before the earthquake, my son Benjamin had returned from Haiti with a group of more than 30 American medical professionals through the MedMissions program, to provide one week of free medical care in the city of Port-Salut to more than 1,000 patients in partnership with 15 Haitian physicians, Lok says. My family and a few other churches started to support these one-week, short-term mission trips back in 2008. And our team has raised a total of $30,000 a year, while collecting at least 3,000 pounds of medical and material supplies in each of these years. All these funds and supplies were used for the support response needed for local hospitals and orphanages.
Lok said although she and her son, a fourth-year medical student at NYU School of Medicine, have worked closely with MedMissions because Haiti is not the sole geographic focus for that organization, they are joining other health professionals to form For Hope International, a nonprofit Christian organization dedicated to delivering care for the chronic diseases in Haitian communities through a cost-efficient mobile clinic model.Jeannine Chyrack, RN
Jeannine Chyrack, RN, of Yonkers, a clinical care coordinator for Calvary Hospital in the Bronx, has been a nurse for 32 years, including 18 years in the field while living in Haiti before her move to the U.S.
Long before last years earthquake, for as long as I can remember, whenever I take my vacation time, I always go to Haiti and help out at the hospital where I used to work in Haiti, Chyrack says. There have always been needs and struggles, and the earthquake just made so many more people realize around the world how much help they can be to those in need.
A month after the earthquake, she joined a church group to donate her time and talents for a week at an emergency clinic in Port-au-Prince.
Even though I had to leave and return to New York, a part of my spirit stayed with those in Haiti in need, and I continue to stay in close contact with my cousin, who is still living there and giving me updates about what is the greatest assistance we can provide, Chyrack says. The best thing anyone can do is to spread the word and help raise awareness about what’s still going on in Haiti during this time of rebuilding. And even just passing an extra collection basket at your local church can help do so much to add to the ongoing effort.
She says she was proud of the help and support provided by Calvary Hospital and her fellow nurses and staff, and the continued group efforts.
Every bit helps, and thats what I always emphasize, Chyrack says. We have to keep talking about the ongoing efforts and changes needed to turn things around. Weve made a start, but theres still so much to be done.