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NY medical team arrives in Haiti on a borrowed wing

Hospital for Special Surgery has 14-member squad in place as leader returns for more supplies, staff

Crain's New York Business—New York, NY—January 18, 2010

A team of nine doctors, three nurses and two surgical technicians from the Hospital for Special Surgery arrived in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Saturday on a borrowed corporate jet. Dr. Soumitra Eachempati, the head of emergency medicine from New York-Presbyterian Hospital, also traveled with the team.

The team immediately began treating patients. Meanwhile, team leader Dr. David Helfet returned to New York City to gather more medical supplies and equipment, as well as to put together a relief crew of medical volunteers. He is due arrive back in Haiti Tuesday night, a hospital spokeswoman says.

Dr. Helfet, the hospital's chief of orthopedic trauma surgery, is in charge of the group, which is operating at Hopital Communaute Haitienne in the Port-au-Prince suburb of Petion-Ville.

The volunteers, apparently the first group of New York physicians to arrive on a hospital-sponsored mission, mobilized quickly after the chief executive of Synthes, a medical device manufacturer, told Dr. Helfet the company would put its corporate jet and pilot at his disposal for the mercy mission.

At the Hospital for Special Surgery, Dr. Helfet got a team together, and left Manhattan on Friday. They landed at Toussaint L'Ouverture Airport Saturday morning after being forced to divert to the Dominican Republic overnight.

The group was initially referred to a hospital in Port-au-Prince, but because the facility had no power or water, the team moved to its current location.

This story originally appeared at crainsnewyork.com.

HSS Medical Team in Haiti


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