Thursday, March 24, 2011
Medical Journal 2011
KENNEBEC JOURNAL •
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Homeless and Haitians benefit from the efforts of local medical practitioners BY BONNIE N. DAVIS Correspondent
As decades of tragedy ravish the Haitian people and the number of homeless people in Maine continues to grow, the need for free medical services are in great demand. Maine doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and nurses are filling that need. “Each of us has a responsibility to open our eyes and hearts to see our brothers and sisters in need and respond to that need wherever we are – in our own backyard, neighborhood, state, nation and beyond,” said Laura Corbett, physician’s assistant and member of Faith Evangelical Free Church in Waterville Corbett, who also volunteers with Maine Migrant Health Program, returned from the church’s medical mission to Haiti just in time to volunteer with Dr. Donald Dubois on Friday mornings at the clinic for the homeless in Trinity Evangelical Free Church in Skowhegan. The church and adjacent men’s shelter is run by Rev. Richard Berry, pastor of the church. The clinic also treats patients from the New Hope Evangelical Free Church shelter for women and children in Solon. “We supply the food and housing and they add the element we can’t afford,” Berry said. They are a blessing from God — the icing on the cake.” Dr. Dubois said his mission work began when he wanted to take time off from his internal medicine practice in Skowhegan and volunteer in a third world country. “Years ago, I had six months off and tried to go do work with Doctors Without Borders, but they just wanted donations,” Dubois said. After the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, his granddaughter’s middle school in Jackman raised more than $5,000 for relief efforts. Connecting with Pam Brochu, co-director of Maine Haitian Ministries in Bangor and a registered nurse, Dubois learned they needed a doctor and teachers for a trip scheduled last June.
Donald Dubois photo
Dr. Donald Dubois, treats children during his fact-finding mission trip to Haiti last June with Maine Haitian Ministries.
“With donations targeted for specific issues and problems, Haitian Ministries tries to work with other organizations for the betterment of the people,” he said. Although residents of rural villages were not affected by the earthquake, most people had friends or family who were injured or died in Portau-Prince. “I jumped right in and saw patients. I spent four or five days in various clinics — a couple were established clinics,” Dubois said. “We worked with Haitian nurses. They function as primary providers — very impressive. We treated acute medical issues, chronic pain and a lot of elderly issues.” Brochu staffs Haitian clinics with
Haitian nationals. “We saw the nationals we had working really cared about the people,” she said. The directors travel to Haiti often, and raise money the rest of the time. “We donate all our expenses, airfare and time. Our mission is to keep the mission going.” Part of that goal includes training for mothers on nutrition and cholera. Maine Haitian Ministries needs battery and solar-powered microscopes and dressing supplies. Since French is the official language of Haiti and Kreyol (Creole) is the language of the people, communication is difficult. However, Susan Gurney, nurse practitioner and a member of Waterville Church, knew Gessie Gelin,
a Haitian working as a medical administrative assistant at Waldron Family Practice in Winslow. “I used to work with Dr. Waldron,” Gurney said. “I called Gessie (Gelin) to see if she could help and she was thrilled.” Gelin began teaching Kreyol to Corbett, Gurney, Dubois and others. “My intention is to go back to Haiti,” Dubois said. “I know a little French, but not knowing the language is a barrier. Haitians without education speak three or four languages – even people who don’t speak English were
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