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Beaver Medical Group Doctors Head to Haiti

April 16, 2010

Published in the Redlands Daily Facts on 3/30/2010

Three Redlands Community Hospital doctors and two nurses leave for Haiti Thursday to give medical aid.
Nurses Diana Kimmell and Catherine MacLean-Miller, Beaver surgeons Richard Kangah, MD and Wisam Haddad, MD and anesthesiologist Kirk Howard will work at a hospital in Fond Parisien, 40 miles from Port-au-Prince and 14 miles from the border of the Dominican Republic.

"This is just an extension of what we do daily," Kangah said. "The conditions might be different in that the infrastructure is not going to exist over there, but you have to work with the minimum. The training that you have is what's going to carry you through." The group's 10-day trip is organized by New Reality International, a Riverside-based relief organization run by Haddad's daughter, Laila Mickelwait. "It's kind of hard not to be interested, to not want to go out and help people," said Kimmell, who lives in Beaumont and works in surgery at Redlands Community. "It's such a devastated country right now." Haddad said when he told his colleagues about the medical need his daughter saw in Haiti, "they all jumped up and down and said, `I want to help.' "

The group will work in rotating shifts in the hospital's one operating room. They will treat everything from earthquake victims' open wounds to routine surgical cases like appendectomies to simple ailments like stomachaches. Not all patients will have earthquake-related problems, Kangah said, and not all procedures will be safe to do. The hospital is next door to a tent city, Haddad said. The group will work with about 10 other medical professionals from around the country and the world, Mickelwait said.

Redlands Community Hospital is sending about 500 pounds of supplies with the team. Kimmell, MacLean-Miller, Kangah and Haddad all said they could not go without the support of the hospital. "Redlands Community Hospital has been so generous - they've given thousands of dollars worth of supplies to the mission," Mickelwait said. When another team went at the beginning of March, they saw more than 1,400 people, Haddad said. "They're going to be working from sunrise to sunset," Mickelwait said.

Team members are taking different flights to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. - Howard is coming from Australia - and are flying together to Port-au-Prince. The trip was organized in the past few weeks, and the group was given lists of what to take, Kimmell said. Kangah, a Redlands resident, said it is important to remember how blessed he is. "Giving of yourself is always so powerful," he said. "It's serving God, the way I see it." "We have the service and skills that they need," Kimmell said.

MacLean-Miller, a Redlands resident also works in surgery and has done medical aid work in Vietnam, said a person can discover strengths, but must also lean on others. It will be hot, humid, and dirty, and there may be rodents and insects in the hospital, Haddad said. The rainy season is starting, and there is malaria and civil unrest. They are taking the supplies themselves, and tents to donate.
"We'll carry a letter in French explaining what's going on," said Haddad, who lives in Riverside. It is all part of traveling, MacLean-Miller said. "We'll stick together and we're a team," she said. And there is even more of a need because some charity groups have left, Haddad said. "My wife understood where I was coming from," Kangah said. "She said, `Why not?' "