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EHMC Staff in Haiti - Englewood Hospital Physicians and Nurses Aid in Haiti Relief

Spotlight On: Deborah Neufville, APN

On March 1, Deborah Neufville of Teaneck, NJ, a nurse practitioner at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, traveled to Haiti to extend medical aid and care to the devastated country’s population. Deborah spent one week in the country as part of a 14-member medical relief team organized by the Arise and Walk Mission Foundation, which serves to provide spiritual, emotional and medical support to people in need around the world.

Deborah was not surprised to find that the destruction in Haiti was far worse than what the media had portrayed. She was appalled to discover, however, that two months after the earthquake, people were still trying to recover their families from the rubble of their homes. She was even more disturbed to find that people are still in desperate need of the most basic necessities – food, shelter, sanitation and medical care.

The Arise and Walk medical team set up a clinic at Grace International, a compound that, prior to the earthquake, was an orphanage, school and church on beautiful enclosed private grounds. When the earthquake occurred, the surrounding wall collapsed and survivors flooded the grounds. Now, in addition to caring for the charges living at the girls’ orphanage, the owners of Grace have taken on the responsibility of feeding and caring for 20,000 people residing on their property.

Besides Deborah, the team included two RNs, two pediatricians, two primary care physicians, and several non-medical volunteers. Four members of the team were Haitians, which allowed communication to flow smoothly. The team began their day around 5am, wound down around 9pm, and by the end of the week had treated more than 500 patients.  

Deborah, who is a nurse practitioner at The Leslie Simon Breast Care Center at the Medical Center, primarily practiced fast track medical care. She reports that all of the people the team saw had lost at least one family member; and that many had lost more than one. Most patients were malnourished, dehydrated, and suffering from headaches, chronic conjunctivitis, respiratory illnesses and other conditions triggered by post-traumatic stress syndrome. Many had untreated medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, malaria, worms, scabies, TB, HIV, pneumonia, thyroid disease and ascites. For some, it was the first time they had ever received any type of medical care. And sadly, it might remain the only time.

She observed, like so many others who have recently made the trip to the ravaged country, that the people of Haiti, despite their situation, are resilient and hopeful. But, she says, “the world needs to remember that this country is still suffering, and they need our compassion and our care. Many of the people are becoming more and more desperate due to the lack of essentials, and without our help, the situation could become explosive. Clean water, food, shelter and sanitation will improve the health status of people living in overpopulated tent cities. Donations collected must get to those in need in a more direct and timely fashion.”

Deborah is planning to return with the group as soon as she is able. In the meantime, she will be part of a team effort to prepare for future missions. Three other nurses and two physicians from Englewood Hospital have been part of the relief effort in Haiti.