March 01, 2010
||Media contact: Bruce Spiher
U-M Health System medical team returns from Haiti
Wolverine Team 1 provided medical support onboard USNS Comfort
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The University of Michigan Health System has welcomed back its team of ten volunteer medical professionals who have spent the past two weeks supporting the U.S. Navy’s medical mission in Haiti.
Hundreds of UMHS medical professionals volunteered to help after the devastating earthquake in Haiti on Jan. 12. A ten-person medical team was deployed in mid-February to provide medical care on board U.S. Naval Ship Comfort, in the harbor near Port-au-Prince.
The “Wolverine Team” consisted of two physicians, seven nurses and one pharmacist. While on the Comfort, its members cared for a variety of earthquake victims. During the mission, Wolverine Team’s medical director, Marie Lozon, M.D., provided the following update from the Comfort:
“We are jumping in to care for patients all over the ship. We are everywhere – Emergency Department, Operating Rooms wards, units – and we have all cared for some of the same patients from intake to post-operation to ward. The U-M team was told by Navy leadership it is the most organized and cohesive group, and all of us were complimented for demonstrating that taking care of patients is most important despite the many distractions in an environment like this.” Lozon was asked by the ship’s commanding officer to join the Executive Committee of the medical staff for the duration of the mission.
The leader of the UMHS Haiti Task Force, Tony Denton, J.D., the chief operating officer of the U-M Hospitals and Health Centers, saluted the Wolverine Team’s efforts, and the willingness of many more UMHS clinicians to travel to Haiti to help earthquake victims.
He also noted the contributions of many throughout UMHS who gathered medical supplies for shipment to Haiti, and the Survival Flight crew that flew to Haiti soon after the earthquake to bring two patients to UMHS for advanced care as part of the official federal response to the crisis. One of those patients has been discharged but is still receiving follow-up care; the other is still hospitalized.
“All who have helped our effort to respond to this tragedy in any way should be proud to have made a difference,” says Denton. “We were privileged to be able to partner with the Navy for this mission. The recovery and restoration effort in Haiti will be very long-term. We will stay abreast of ongoing needs and continue to evaluate our Health System’s ability to assist.”
However, he noted that further deployments of UMHS medical teams are not anticipated because the Comfort has been called home after experiencing a decrease in admissions of earthquake victims in need of immediate relief.
The following UMHS medical personnel served as part of the Wolverine Team: Lozon, who also directs UMHS Children’s Emergency Services; John Arkles, R.N., Trauma Burn Center; Adrienne Bell, PharmD, BCPS, Emergency Department Pharmacy Services; Kevin Dombrowski, R.N., Pediatric Surgery and C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital Operating Room; Dennis Fish, R.N., Mott Hospital Operating Room Education Coordinator; Deb Koesler, R.N., B.S.N., Children’s Emergency Services; Patrick Nalepa, R.N., clinical nurse D, Pediatric Surgery, Mott Hospital; Aasim I. Padela, M.D., M.Sc., Emergency Medicine; Janine L. Robinson, R.N., B.S.B.A., R.R.T., clinical nurse manager, University Hospital Operating Room; and Keenan Stonebraker, R.N., EMT-P, UMHS SWAT Team.
QUOTES FROM THE MARCH 1 MEDIA AVAILABILITY WITH MEMBERS OF THE WOLVERINE TEAM
"The suffering of these people is incalculable. I will never ever be able to understand how a nation can absorb the tragedies they have, but they are very grateful and joyful people when helped. Anything we can do for this nation, even the tiny little dent we made by going there for just a couple of weeks, will help. We are grateful that we have a health system that can provide care for these people."
- Marie Lozon, M.D., Wolverine Team leader and chief of Children's Emergency Services at UMHS
"Not since the Battle of Okinawa in World War II has any military medical facility received such a high amount of patients in such a short amount of time. The conditions that these people dealt with and what they produced is truly amazing. They're the true heroes. We were there to give them a break, and I feel it was an honor and a privilege to be there. It was the opportunity of a lifetime and I would do it again in a heartbeat."
- Kevin Dombrowski, R.N., Pediatric Surgery/C.S. Mott Children's Hospital Operating Room
"It was wonderful that the crew of the Comfort could step back and relax a little bit, though many of them wouldn't leave and were still there working many hours. That operating room in one month had done 800 operations -- mostly trauma. We saw some horrific thing, but it's something I'll remember all my life."
- Patrick Nalepa, R.N., Pediatric Surgery/C.S. Mott Children's Hospital
"The dedication of the crew on the Comfort was phenomenal -- they continued on even though we were there. Once they got comfortable with us, they'd go take a break and come back and say, 'That was great.' It made us feel good that they could take some time off."
- Dennis Fish, R.N., C.S. Mott Children's Hospital Operating Room Education Coordinator
"The people of Haiti, their resilience and what they've had to endure even prior to the earthquake is just incredible. What you see on the news just cannot express it. But when we were coming back from the airport, we could see people cleaning the streets and just trying to make the best of the situation. I did not know the rest of the U-M team before, but I came home with a lot of new friends. We have a connection that we'll never forget."
- Keenan Stonebraker, R.N., EMT-P, UMHS SWAT Team
"We had a few days where it was a round robin environment. We'd have five minutes to see a patient, and someone else would come off the elevator for treatment. That's what the crew was doing for a few weeks before we arrived. ... There was a great blend of character and resilience in the U-M team, and we were told that we were one of the most outstanding NGOs (non-governmental organizations) that was there on the Comfort."
- Aasim Padela, M.D., M.Sc., Department of Emergency Medicine