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Like many people, Dr. Patricia Wynn-Jones wondered what she could do to help people in Haiti, following the devastating earthquake earlier this month. But whereas most people sent text messages to give money to the American Red Cross, or offered financial donations to other aid organizations, Wynn-Jones is now heading to Haiti to offer medical assistance.
At first, Wynn-Jones, who is the head of pain management at Olympia Medical Center, began by gathering medical supplies from the hospital to send to Haiti, recruiting operating room staff to help her round up unused equipment and eventually convincing the medical center’s CEO, John Calderone, to help in her effort. Then, she learned they also needed orthopedic surgeons and anesthesiologist in Haiti, and decided she could be of most help if she went there herself.
“I’m a pain management specialist,” Wynn-Jones said. “In my anesthesia training, I did a lot of peripheral nerve blocks. I also have a lot of alternative training, with acupuncture and healing and homeopathy, so I have a lot of tools in my arsenal to help get pain under control with a minimum of resources.”
Wynn-Jones said she will probably go with the fourth or fifth wave of doctors from the United States, most likely some time in February. Despite her plan to depart within a matter of weeks, she said she has no idea what to expect when she arrives in Haiti. She has never visited a developing country, never been camping, and does not watch the news on TV.
“I may not be totally prepared for what I’m walking into,” she said. “I have a couple of patients trained in the military with the special forces. They told me there’s nothing they can tell me to help prepare for an environment like the one there.
“I don’t want to be a problem, but I know I have something to offer. I hear there are a lot of amputations and a lot of pain, and peripheral nerve blocks would just be so perfect for crush victims and amputations to help ease some of that pain.”
Despite reports of looting and absence of government presence, Wynn-Jones said she’s not frightened by the prospect of her trip — at least not yet.
“Maybe it’s not so real quite yet,” she said. “But I grew up on the south side of Chicago during the civil rights movement in a housing project. How much more of a war zone can it be? I may be a Beverly Hills doctor now, but I didn’t start off that way. I feel as though I’m going to do something wonderful. Some of the things I’d like to do in the U.S. with integrating Eastern and Western medicine, I hope can really make a difference there. Plus, I can do anything for a week.”
Wynn-Jones will go for a week at a time, along with other doctors form the United States, to work at Hope Children’s Hospital and Orphanage in Haiti, and will also bring additional supplies from Olympia Medical center with her.
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