A Rincon doctor is planning a medical mission to Haiti for the end of next month. The biggest need for Dr. Kennedy Okere is transportation — a way to get there and back.
The plans are laid out and they have been gathering supplies for the trip. And this is nothing new to Dr. Okere. For more than the last 10 years, he has been involved in international medical missions. He founded the Horizon International Medical Mission in 1998 and launched his first medical mission to Nigeria in 2000.
“So for the past 10 years in a row, we’ve been doing international medical missions and international relief,” he said.
Dr. Okere lived in the Caribbean for five years and decided to undertake this mission after seeing the devastation from the Haitian earthquake.
They are planning on leaving on Feb. 28 and returning March 7.
“I felt it’s quite compassionate and it would be nice to contribute,” he said. “Our mission, mainly, is to help out in the medical area. We know that by the time we’ll be there, we’ll be dealing more with infectious disease problems. We’ll be dealing more with re-dressing the wounds that already have been dressed by the first group that arrived there when the trauma was at the peak.”
Dr. Okere also is preparing to deal with psychological issues stemming from the catastrophe.
“People have lost their loved ones,” he said. “They’ll be going through a process of grief and some might have what we call post-traumatic stress. So it’s going to be a bad psychosocial issue we’ll be dealing with when we get there.”
Most of Dr. Okere’s team will be from Savannah and Effingham County and will be comprised of doctors, nurses, a pharmacist, a surgeon and other staff. They are going to focus their aid in the area around the capital city of Port au Prince and will base out of a local church with a pastor helping them there.
“What I’ve prepared mainly is wound care. I think that’s gong to be the major issue,” he said. “We know that public heath issues are going to be a problem there as well. Probably we’ll need to educate the people as well.
“When you’re thinking about a situation where the infrastructure has been destroyed — the pipeline water has been broken, sewage disposal is everywhere. The tendency is that, in third world countries, in my experience, you’ll find that the feces will be mixing with water that people are supposed to be drinking, so you’ll be facing a lot of e-coli. You’re going to educate the people for proper sewage disposal, because infections coming from there might be really high.”
Dr. Okere is hopeful that the public will respond to the need and bring in supplies of bandages, iodine solution, hydrogen peroxide, analgesics, vitamins, Motrin, Advil, Tylenol, new or like-new clothes, shoes and canned food. And then there is the huge need for transportation.
For more information you can contact Dr. Okere at (912) 308-8799 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. His office is located at 800 Towne Park Drive, Suite 400 in Rincon.