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Haiti: Last update from Rush Unisersity Medical Center staff

31 Mar 2010

Lauren Kessler (pictured here with a municipal nursing home resident) is a clinical social worker with the Rush University Medical Center who has been in Haiti assisting older people alongside HelpAge. She has been keeping the Rush newsblog updated with regular posts from Haiti.

The Rush team have been busy treating older people at the municipal nursing home in Port-au-Prince, as well as other tent cities. They have also visited nursing homes in Leogane, the epicentre of the earthquake, assessing the needs of older patients.

Older people suffering from trauma

The most prevalent complaints they found are hypertension and intestinal issues. They've seen many older people with low-vision or complete blindness, as well as many with dementia.

The overall trauma of the earthquake has caused older people to suffer from "all-over pain". Many of them choose to sleep in tents, even when buildings are available because they're still so frightened of being in a building that might collapse on them.

Being on the ground with HelpAge, they have witnessed the difficulties first hand of securing a safe environment for the older nursing home residents to be transfered to.

"Haitians are incredibly resilient"

In her last update before leaving Haiti, Lauren writes:

"So we're nearing the end of our time here in Haiti, and it's certainly bittersweet. This trip has really been amazing, and we feel so lucky to have been given the opportunity. In such a short time, we have learned so much about this amazing country, its history and culture.

Everyone says it and now we have seen it first hand - the Haitians are incredibly resilient and have overcome so much in their lives. So many have picked up where they've left off and are living their life, trying to make a living as best as they can day in and day out. The people we've met are so gracious and stoic and we've learned an incredible amount from them."

She finishes by saying:

"It's been an inspiring, eye-opening experience and one that we'll never forget."

Read more about HelpAge's work in Haiti.

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Author profile

Sarah Marzouk
Country: UK
Job title: Digital Communications

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These blogs are personal reflections and do not necessarily reflect the views of HelpAge International.