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Rush University staff work with HelpAge in Haiti

23 Mar 2010

Since the Haiti earthquake over two months ago, ensuring older people, like Idalliese (right), get food, shelter, medical care and maintain their dignity has been a huge challenge.

Luckily though, we have great people working with us. For the next ten days, Dr. Martin Gorbien, a geriatrician, and Lauren Kessler, a licensed clinical social worker, both from Rush University Medical Center, are in Haiti.

Responding to the needs of older people

Martin and Lauren will be among the first older adult specialists brought to Haiti to respond to the very complex medical and emotional needs of older people.

While they're in Haiti, they will visit the municipal nursing home with a mobile clinic, as well as other care homes and hospitals. They will also assist with distribution of food, water and supplies.

Not only are Martin and Lauren doing amazing work, they are also writing a blog about their day to day experiences:

Precarious situation

"In natural disasters, geriatricians are never on the list of people called to help, but there is a great need for them," said Gorbien. "The sad lessons learned as a result of the failed rescue of the vulnerable elderly during Hurricane Katrina will remain a shameful memory.

"The strongest people who can get to the front of the line are those who succeed. We are going to help the people who are having trouble because they can't do it for themselves and they may not have an advocate to do it for them.

"Older adults in Haiti were vulnerable before the quake," said Kessler. "Resources are limited for the whole country, and many members of the older population are not only caring for themselves but also their grandchildren. It is a precarious situation."

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.