January 15th, 2010
05:47 PM ET

Helping Haiti

By Stephanie Smith
CNN Medical Producer

We’ve received many emails and responses on the Paging Dr. Gupta blog, from readers who want donate their time and expertise to assist in Haiti.

Annette Smith, of Ephrata, Pennsylvania wrote "I am a Medical Technologist (I work in a hospital laboratory), and I'm wondering how I can help with disasters like the current one in Haiti. I can't afford to give financially, but I'm willing to donate time and expertise. Any ideas?"

The sentiment Annette expresses– the desire to help during one of the most profound natural disasters any country has ever faced - is one that is radiating through the world right now. There are scores of doctors, nurses, search and rescue crews, and medical technicians like you, who are willing to volunteer.

The reality is, one of the few ways to help right now is financially. One reason: Just getting in to Haiti right now is virtually impossible. Many of the roads into Port-au-Prince are impassable and the airport is accepting some planes, but most contain supplies from aid organizations. (need to reword this)

Once volunteers begin trickling in, they will find very little coordination at the government level to organize their efforts, little sense about where the worst-hit areas are, or where they should go to help. Add to that, the communication system - phones, internet - have been down in Haiti, and you get a sense about how difficult the volunteer effort will be.

As you may know, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen are in Haiti now, covering the devastation in Port Au Prince and the surrounding areas. To give you a sense about how dire the situation is here, Dr. Gupta reports that he has seen people clearing rubble with their own hands to rescue family members. There are bodies in the streets, and no coordinated plan for where they will be laid to rest. For those who are still alive, there is no reprieve for their injuries. Hospitals here are demolished and unable to treat patients. The clinics that are seeing patients are overwhelmed.

It is an astonishing thing to see. This is a city on a fragile precipice. Put simply, this is the genesis of a disaster and there is not yet an organized plan to bring in help from people like you.

In the days and weeks to come, people will be saved; food, water, medical supplies and medication will begin to be distributed - and later, there may be an opportunity for volunteers to travel to Haiti to help. But it may be some time before that happens.
In the meantime, you can visit the website of organizations like the Center for International Disaster Information, which fields requests to volunteer during international emergencies. You may also check with other disaster relief organizations, like the International Red Cross.

For those who wish to give financially, check out CNN's Impact Your World website here.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.

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soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. Sandra Logue

    I am with St. Boniface Haiti Foundation and we have a hospital in Fond des Blanc – south and west of PAP- We are getting a lot of patients from PAP and are in need of an orthopedic surgeon at the hospital (Centre de Sante St. Boniface). I have just heard that there are several doctors in PAP who are not being utilized due to lack of hospital and supplies. Is there any way that an orthopedic doctor could be taken by helicopter to Fond des Blanc for the hospital here. Our hospital director is Conor Shapiro phone number in Fond des Blanc 3634-1567. Please, if you can help, we will be so grateful.

    January 15, 2010 at 19:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Nancy

    Are the rescue teams in haiti only helping Port-au Prince. because there's some place like in Carfoure, Leogane where its as bad as Port-au Prince

    January 15, 2010 at 20:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Angela Rickman

    Dominican Republic is right next door, and so is Puerto Rico. Why can injured men, women, and children be Transfer in a C-130 Air Craft to the hospitals in Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic? Why hasn’t the Governor of Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic Suggested Aid from there Hospitals? I hope president Obama can make this suggestion Happen! Many lives would be saved!

    January 15, 2010 at 22:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Judy Loeb

    OMG.......Where is humanity?
    Can they not set up a hospital on one of the ships bringing in supplies so there is one meeting place that is safe and secure?
    This is gut renching to say the least. It would also help to get the sick and wounded in one central spot where there could be some control.
    And continued help............for the love of God!

    My heart and soul goes out to all these people.

    January 16, 2010 at 00:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. fritzner laborde

    please dr i need to know my sister is a nun with st marie church in canape-vent she is missing her name is gernite laborde i hoping she is doing her catholic duties and helping people but we are not able to locate her

    January 16, 2010 at 01:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Herby Mahotiere

    My cousin is under the rubbles of Sogebank located in the downtown Port-AU-Prince between Rue des Miracles and Place Geffrard since the time of the earthquake. My family has kept contact with her until thursday. In spite of all of our outcry and supplications, No rescue team has been there. Till today we have kept great hope.
    Please help us by driving the public awareness to this bank where my cousin along with her staff has been trapped. They have posted a couple of police officers to secure the safe of the bank without caring about the lives under the rubbles...
    Please, Please help us

    January 16, 2010 at 02:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Holly Westby

    God Bless Dr. Gupta and all his staff in Haiti,Your are outstanding human beings, and please stay safe,and know we support you in Minnesota. God Bless!

    January 16, 2010 at 03:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Lori

    Just an FYI (and I am not judging here), but there is no way I would have left those patients tonight. I may not have had a choice but if i
    did, I guess it would have been just the two of us there treating those poor people. God Bless you and protect you. Please take time for yourself as well. You are no good if you are not taking care of yourself too.

    January 16, 2010 at 03:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. frantz/jersey city new jersey

    I would like to thank you and CNN for the great coverage and support that the station have been given to this horrible event that happened in Haiti this week. I love Haiti and the people, I am very sad to see how many lives that have been lost. I have trouble sleelping everyday, I can't stay away from the Tv screen because I am hoping that they can find more survivors. I also want to thank the whole world for their support. May God bless each and every single individual for their courageous effort.
    One way the UN may distribute the food without problems: go to the churches or schools and get everyone in lines
    All distributions must be done at the same time, that way some people will not be able to get more than once and that will allow more to get the help and food they want.

    January 16, 2010 at 05:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. ed sindicich

    Dr.Gupta and your Crew ...YOU ARE HEROS..I coould not sleep allnight when CNN live coverage ended and those patients were abandon.... I woke at 530 am to find out you all stayed and saved their lives...I AM SO PROUD of You and CNN...
    The only way this situation is going to improve is with General HONORE in charge NOW! everything were sending is worthless without a capale leader with common sense to make decisions. (I am a fan for life for your heoric and great common sense in the face of idiotic leadership in Haiti)
    PLEASE RUN 24 hour LIVE coverage ..every minute this rescue operation is without a capable leader PEOPLE DIE...expand your coverage CNN

    January 16, 2010 at 08:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Hilda

    Dr, Gupta, I want to thank you for your help, support and concern with the Hatian people. I do not know who to write to, so I decided to do it to you. I can't get AC's comment blog. You need to tell the officials, that being USA, UN, or the Hatian t(I don't know who is in charge),that they need to divide the population betwwen women & Children, and then the other group men when giving out food and supplies. This has worked in many countries that I have seen chaos (Nicaragua,Panama). Men tend to be more aggresive in these situations, and after seeing when they were distribuiting some type of oatmeal and the desperation it was overwhelming. 90% were men (of course many trying to get food to their wives, mothers, kids) but many just for them or to sell, and its not going to work.
    You need to divide them and have an official who speaks french explain to them what you are distribuiting and how many per person, the Haitian people need to be taught, it will take a while but it is possible.
    Again God bless you & Good luck!

    January 16, 2010 at 08:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Joey Edouard

    Doctor Gupta,

    Thank you for saving my people,s life. Every one else walked away from them, living them to die in pain, you were the only one caring for them overnight. The Haitian people will never forget you and your family in their thoughts and prayers.

    We love you Doc.

    January 16, 2010 at 09:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Steve Corley

    Dr, Gupta,

    Should you read this, I highly recommend that you suggest that the relief teams set up refugee tent cities in Port du Paix and Gonaives.
    The effort needs to remove the excess personnel roaming the Port au Prince area so as to allow the medical and U/SAR teams to do their work unimpeded.
    The tent cities will also help in accountability of survivors since they both should have a family/survivor registration team on site along with the requisite medical clinic and canteens.
    The tent cities should be powered by a solar/wind farm west of Port du Paix and east of Goniaves.
    Another ten city should be constructed at Les Cayes near the airfield. That will help the Jacmel/Bainet over flow refugees from the tent city at the airfield in Jacmel.
    Local security can be hired for perimeter protection o f the tent cities and to help string barbed wire around the regugee camp to keep looters out.
    The main thing is to relocate the masses away from the Area of Operations (AO), keep them in a safe orderly environment, provide for their needs, and control lawlessness.

    Steve Corley
    MAJ AVN USAR (Ret)
    DHS/ICE/ FPS Emergency Mgmt Coord (Ret)

    January 16, 2010 at 09:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Rosie Andujar

    The uninjured Haitians are so resourceful. Why not drop food, water, tools and medical supplies to them from the air. They are seen taking care of their own people. Let’s add them to the rescue equation and let them help their people. This drop should have been done days ago. It’s obvious that it will take too long to truck everything in…dropping everything in is the KEY. Someone please take over and run the show and help these people !

    January 16, 2010 at 12:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Wuinfred

      We did order more Barbancourt! Folks loved it. I'm a light weight so had to have mine mixed with a juice mleedy for rum runner. Most folks drank it straight! We raised $300 and Harlem Vintage matched, so a total of $600 went to NYers for Haiti ( part of UNICEF). Not huge but every little bit helps. Check out L'ex Cafe on 107th & Manhattan- great b'fast grub and they have boxes for supplies donation. The owner is Haitian-born, Evens, and they are sending a container down in two weeks .

      September 11, 2012 at 15:46 | Report abuse |
  15. Rosie Andujar

    Dr. Gupta,

    God bless you for staying with those injured patients all night last night when all the other medical personnel just left them. Thank you for all you do. Please, please, let's see some supplies being dropped down from the air. This should have been done days ago !!

    January 16, 2010 at 12:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Khush

    Dr. Gupta,

    I am a 3rd year medical student and very eager to help out in Haiti. I want to volunteer my time and provide whatever medical assistance that I can, but am not sure how to go about it. I would greatly appreciate any advice that you can provide.

    Thank You!

    January 16, 2010 at 13:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Rachelle

    My grandma and uncle and little cousin are in carrefour. They've tried to move along up a hill because too many dead bodies and the stench. She only has on socks that my uncle took off his feet to give her. There has been NO AID WHATSOEVER in those areas...why cant they just send a little bit of aide everywhere instead of all the aid in one area and move along? by the time they reach these other areas some people will be dead due to starvation and dehydration...i am 16 and i wish i can help anyway i can. All i can do is pray

    January 16, 2010 at 14:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Donna Zivalich

    Dr. Gupta & Crew/Staff,

    Words fail to describe the profound powerful example you set by staying at the tent hospital all night when other medical professionals were ordered to leave due to safety concerns. God bless you and stay safe. Your patients are fortunate that you and your team of caring journalists stepped in when you did. You embody the Golden Rule-"do unto others as you would have them to do unto you".

    January 16, 2010 at 15:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Mark Beams

    I am a physician with about 18 years of E.D. experience, 6 years of Urgent care experience and I.M. board certified. I am betweeen jobs, I want to do something life changing with my experience, I could also bring a dedicated R.N. Help me find a way to help with my training. Mark Beams,M.D.

    January 16, 2010 at 16:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Fred R LaPoint

    Stephanie, while I understand what you are saying about a boots on the ground effort being difficult to organize and coordinate under the current conditions I need to remind you that this is something your nations firefighters are best at. We are confronted every day with rapidly changing quickly evolving man made and natural disasters but we are trained to function at our best under these kinds of circumstances. It's easy to say there are just too many hurdles to over come to get more people in there on the ground who could make a significant difference in the outcome of this situation. But one thing is certain...if nothing changes more will die. At least if someone would give us an opportunity I think you and the world would be amazed at what we could do for the people of Haiti. I am but one thousands of Professional Firefighters across the U.S. that would respond to Haiti right now if given the opportunity. I have thirty years experience as a Firefighter Emergency Medical Technician and have dealt with every imaginable and some unimaginable scenarios and situations. We have thousands of hours of training in specialties like confined space rescue, water rescue, high angle rescue, trench rescue and HAZMAT response. These are the kinds of technical expertise and know how that are in such short supply in Haiti right now. Is it dangerous? Sure, any more dangerous than running into a burning building or approaching a burning tank car, or tanker truck, or drug addict with a weapon and no police around? I don't think so. This status quo isn't good enough in this situation. I and thousands like me have offered our services in Haiti and the collective response has been...nothing. You are told you need to be a member of a USAR Team Urban Search and Rescue. Most of these teams have a limited number of people on them. We can triage, bandage wounds, start iv's give antibiotics and so much more. Why aren't they utilizing what we have to offer?

    January 16, 2010 at 21:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Vickie Vanderbush

    I have been watching the CNN telecast all day regarding Haiti. I am a medical assistant and I have worked 13 years in Internal Medicine and 2.5 years in a surgical practice. I saw on CNN where doctors and nurses left last night and S. Gupta stayed. I would love to have the opportunity to be there to assist him with the wounded in Haiti. I would stay there and do the best of my ability to help with the wounded. I would not leave just as S. Gupta did not leave. My heart breaks for the pain and the suffering that the Haitian people are enduring at this time. I would be there in a moment if the opportunity presented itself. I am here and available. At this time, my prayers are with these hurting people. But prayers need willing hand and my hands are willing. CNN, get me there and I will stay as long as I am needed. My prayers are will all of those that are giving themselves to this critical situation and I only want to be there to assist. I have a prayerful, strong, and willing spirit and I have alot of experience, love, and geniune concern for these people that are enduring what seems to be hell on earth. I am here and available in NC. Get me there and I will stay as long as I am needed. I am willing to go. Thank you CNN for all that you are doing. My prayers are with all the people in Haiti and those covering this critical news via CNN. Vickie Vanderbush

    January 16, 2010 at 22:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Faith

    Bless the CNN crew and Dr Gupta for not just seeing this disaster through the eyes of a journalist but as people who can help. Remember every little bit helps . Thank you for the kindness you have shown

    January 16, 2010 at 22:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Ted C.

    I would like to volunteer too, but right now the logistical problems, and my relatively low level of training make that unlikely.
    But for the long term, as ongoing recovery takes place and needs continue is another matter.
    I am planning to go to Paramedic school and once finished would go to help. The longer term needs to be addressed as well. But I don't know where or how to apply.
    Any help?

    January 16, 2010 at 23:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Robert Ankrom

    I feel the same way many of those that have posted. I have 40 years of medical, dental, ems and nursing experience and would like to help. However, I understand the situation how difficult it is to get into Haiti. Is there a way I could donate financially in a way for supplies to make it directly to Dr. Gupta? It appears he has a great need and little help. God bless all he is doing and may he have the strength mentally and physically to keep helping in every way he can. Please let me know how I can make the direct financial contact and also let me know if I can be of any help in Haiti. Robert W. Ankrom.

    January 17, 2010 at 01:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Claudia McCalley

    Having watched the Israeli Medical Team, facilities, and relative calm, it appeared they have been providing critical health care of several days during this disaster. Would US be able to learn how they established their critical care disaster response facilities and teams so it could be replicated and used as model in the future?

    January 17, 2010 at 07:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cassandra

      Aug29Jean Weiss I watched it last eve out in Aspen while onivaatcon Loved learning about the role of large particles ofcholesterol ~ very interesting!It was informative, hopeful and doable!!!Keep up the fabulous journalistic awareness andbeing of service ;-)BRAVO

      September 14, 2012 at 01:56 | Report abuse |
  26. Emmy Holman

    I know that cash contributions are now critical for immediate needs to be addressed–food, water, medicine. As a physical therapist, I find myself thinking about the mobility needs of the survivors and wonder if mobility equipment, like crutches, walkers, and wheelchairs (particularly with legrest extensions) could be collected for future transport. Equipment is expensive to purchase new and I'm sure there is unused equipment that people would donate. Please contact me if this need has not yet been identified, send me some particulars, and I will spearhead the drive.

    January 17, 2010 at 10:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Charles Elysee

    Dear Dr.Gupta,

    In the name of my family and the Haitian people living in the US,we want to thank you for bringing help and comfort to the people of Port-au-Prince.We also want to thank the entire staff of CNN for the excellent news coverage of the unfortunate situation in Haiti.

    I hope the local politicians including the President Rene Preval learn something from the current situation and allow the international aids organization do its work and try to save the haitian people.

    Further more ,under no circumstances that the donation money collected sould be handed to the Haitian Government.We all know about the corruption and isensitivity among Haitian politicians.

    Again, I want to thank for your courage and your dedication on such "astronomical"task.


    Charles Elysee

    January 17, 2010 at 12:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Joane Josaphat


    As nurse, a Haitian-canadian who grew up in Haiti and have worked in Haiti. I know not only Port-au-prince but all the other cities (departments0 of Haiti, there is not only one hospital in Haiti. There is not only one airport in Haiti. Cap-Haitian as also an international airport , a port, that they can land. Flights from Miami used to land there. Why is it that now they forget about that. Lots of the armericans, canadians and french that I've worked with know that. The US State Department knows that because I've worked with lots of colonels and majors when the multi national force and the UN mission went to Haiti. There is a hospital (Bienfaisance) in the Pignon on the north part of Haiti which is fully equipped with a US army colonnel doctor there and other missionaries. Jeremie, St-marc, Gonaives has a hospital and a port. They can bring people by helicopter to these places. I went to these places on military helicopter in 1994-95 durting the mission. Why, Why, why are they only concentrated in port-
    au prince.


    January 17, 2010 at 19:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. N. Nemorin

    I have family members in Rue St Surin, Petionville, they are very concern about the status of their community, because the focus right now is on Port au Prince, when they have people there in Petionville including themselves who are homeless and starving and in need of food and medical attention, we need CNN to get the word out about Petionville, people are getting desperate, some are now resorting to crime and violence just to survive. please get the word out, we desperately need help for Petionville now.

    January 17, 2010 at 22:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. patricia faustin

    To President Obama and to the CNN network ;

    I would like to thank you President Obama, and the world for the support and enthusiasm throughout this unexpected disater. It is my wish to convey to you my deepest gratitude for those who reach out to helped . To the CNN staff thanks for being the eyes and ears, you make us be part of what's going on in haiti.

    To everyone in the world who left their family behind to volunter to help our people in Haiti on their darkest moment. Please accept my heartfelt thanks. God will bless.

    patricia faustin

    January 19, 2010 at 23:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Sandy J.

    Dr. Gupta

    Me and my family would like to thank you, Anderson Cooper, Ivan and the rest of the staff from CNN for helping the people in Haiti . A lot of people walked away from aiding the Haitian people, leaving them to die. We appericate that you and your staff were the only ones caring for them overnight. The Haitian people and people all over the world will never forget want you have done for Haiti. We will always keep you and the other staff memebers in our thoughts and prayers.

    we love you.

    January 21, 2010 at 22:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Leslie

    There is an empty hospital 75 miles from Port-Au-Prince, ready to treat quake victims! Media or people in need, please contact Tim 413-241-6526, ttraynor1948@gmail.com. They have food, housing, full staffed trauma unit, and so far, only 4 victims to treat.

    January 22, 2010 at 09:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Schedule

    Best you should change the webpage name Helping Haiti – The Chart – CNN.com Blogs to something more generic for your content you create. I loved the the writing yet.

    October 29, 2010 at 22:36 | Report abuse | Reply
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    March 11, 2011 at 12:09 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.