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January 26, 2010

Week after Haiti earthquake, medical needs still overwhelming

Haiti's medical needs a week after the earthquake are overwhelming -- even with the presence of the USNS Comfort and the influx of doctors from the United States and other countries. As I note in this audio interview, to treat serious burn patients, who require months of medical attention, the Comfort has made arrangements with a stateside hospital for continuing care. But the hospital ship also has had to turn away some patients -- those with serious brain injuries, for example -- who would take up a disproportionate amount of medical resources. That will allow the ship to focus on other patients who can be treated and released.

That very difficult issue lands at the Comfort because it is the most advanced hospital in Haiti. The ship's medical operations director told me that putting three hospital ships side by side in Port-au-Prince harbor wouldn't be enough to solve the problem. I think you could drop Shock Trauma and all of Hopkins hospital here and they would be still be overwhelmed.

Posted by Robert Little at 12:34 PM | | Comments (2)


My husband is on his way to work on the USNS Comfort as a critical care medic. Thank you for providing this blog to keep us family members back home up to speed on what is going on.

My husband is also aboard the Comfort as chief of staff, keeping the operations moving. I also thank you for keeping us aprised of events through your eyes. They are so busy aboard Comfort that there is virtually no time (and very limited capability) to communicate with home. Please keep the news coming.

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About the reporters
Reporter Robert Little, a native Baltimorean, has worked at The Baltimore Sun for 11 years. A former national correspondent, he has reported on military medical issues, and was the recipient of a George Polk Award for a series of articles about an experimental drug used on U.S. service members in Iraq. He also reported from Louisiana in 2005 on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Photographer Kim Hairston, a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, has worked at The Baltimore Sun for 21 years. She studied photojournalism at Ohio University as a master degree candidate. While on assignment for The Sun, she has covered a number of assignments including Catholic Relief Service outreach in Ecuador; AIDS and squalor in Soweto, South Africa and hurricane relief in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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