York to volunteer in Haiti for earthquake relief

Published 9:50 pm Sunday, January 30, 2011

Staff Writer

A local doctor left for Haiti today on a week-long excursion to volunteer in the effort for earthquake relief.
Dr. Liz York, a family practice physician at Chocowinity Family Care, said this is something she has been wanting to do for quite some time.
“I wanted to go last year after the earthquake,” she said. “I had a friend I used to work with a long time ago who went, but I could not work out the timing last year to go.”
This year, York said she made time to go down to Haiti and volunteer for a week.
York is going to Haiti by way of Heart to Heart International, which is an American group that works all over the world running clinics.
“I’ll either be working in a clinic in Port-au-Prince that will do general medical work,” York said, “or in another case they’ll send me to a more rural area, in which case we’ll do a couple different rural clinics.”
Once York arrives in Haiti, Heart to Heart will decide where it wants her to work and where she will be the most beneficial.
Heart to Heart gets applications and volunteers from doctors all over the country. The shortest length of time one can volunteer is a week. However, there are much longer stints for which doctors can volunteer.
“There are a couple (physician’s assistants) going down there,” she said. “I think there are a total of five people.”
Although Heart to Heart has many different volunteers programs, right now it is only taking medical personnel to Haiti, but in the future will be looking into volunteers in the nonmedical fields.
“You can volunteer for Heart to Heart for several things,” she said. “But to work in a clinic you have to have a medical background.”
York, who is a family practitioner, said she has been told there is nothing one can do in order to prepare oneself for what is to be seen in Haiti.
“I’ve been in touch with a nurse who went down there and I’m not sure, having lived here and not having been in a Third World situation that anyone can prepare for it,” York said. “She mentioned they went to an orphanage with over 150 kids who didn’t have any food or medical care. The situation is just real bad down there. And not a lot has really improved that much since the earthquake.”
York added she had to get vaccinated last week before her trip, as there are hundreds of different diseases in Haiti.
“I had to get a typhoid and a hepatitis shot, and I have to take malaria prevention,” she said.
In order to prepare for seven days of earthquake relief in Haiti, York said she has been planning for this trip since the fall.
To find out more, you can log onto www.hearttoheart.org.