Pediatric field hospital in Haiti provides lessons in disaster planning and response

Oct 03, 2010

When a devastating earthquake hit Haiti earlier this year, physicians and health care workers were immediately deployed to the capital, Port-au-Prince. A study on the creation and evolution of a pediatric field hospital - from a disaster service facility to a full-fledged children's hospital - during the weeks and months following the disaster, was presented on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2010, at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in San Francisco.

" in a Pediatric Field Hospital: Lessons Learned in Haiti," chronicles the deployment of Miami Children's Hospital staff - surgeons, pediatricians, nurses, operating room personnel, physical therapists, pharmacists, X-ray technicians and social workers - to a field hospital operated by the non-profit organization Project Medishare. The hospital operated for 45 days, with rotating medical teams specifically composed of specialists and caregivers to best provide the services needed.

Initially, the goals of the hospital were to staff 75 beds for admitted children, an operating room, and a wound care center where surgical management of open wounds (debridement) and dressing changes could occur with sedation.

During the first five days, 93 percent of pediatric patients were surgical specialty admissions, with 40 children undergoing operations, mostly for fractures and wounds. Simultaneously, more than 50 procedures - debridement, dressing changes and castings - took place in the wound center.

Two months after the disaster, however, care needs evolved dramatically.

"As time passed, the facility evolved to more closely emulate a children's hospital with 80 percent of patients requiring general pediatric and and only 20 percent requiring admission for surgical issues," said Cathy Burnweit, MD, FAAP, lead author of the study. As the hospital developed the capacity for intensive care, newborns - including those born premature and with congenital anomalies - and children with acute burns and trauma were transported to the hospital.

The transformation of the facility from a disaster service facility to a pediatric hospital with intensive care capacity required changes in equipment, medical staff and leadership.

"In addition to assuring that the major specialty needs were covered, the team approach afforded us an amazing esprit de corps and a built-in support system," said Dr. Burnweit.

"Numerous sources have stressed how grateful the Haitian people were for the care provided by the volunteers in the aftermath of the earthquake. But we physicians and , in return, reaped remarkable benefits out of our commitment to provide services to Haiti's children," said Dr. Burnweit. "This was truly the most uplifting and rewarding experience I have had as a doctor."

Explore further: Liver transplant recipient marks 25th anniversary

Provided by American Academy of Pediatrics

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Spending time in the intensive care unit can traumatize kids

Sep 03, 2008

Children who spend time in the intensive care unit of a hospital can be traumatized by the experience even months after returning home. Dr. Janet Rennick from the Research Institute of The Montreal Children's Hospital of ...

Recommended for you

Ebola scare boosts business for US company

11 hours ago

The Ebola scare has subsided in the United States, at least temporarily, but an Alabama manufacturer is still trying to catch up with a glut of orders for gear to protect against the disease.

Thai parliament votes to ban commercial surrogacy (Update)

19 hours ago

Thailand's parliament has voted to ban commercial surrogacy after outrage erupted over the unregulated industry following a series scandals including the case of an Australian couple accused of abandoning a baby with Down's ...

Doctor behind 'free radical' aging theory dies

Nov 25, 2014

Dr. Denham Harman, a renowned scientist who developed the most widely accepted theory on aging that's now used to study cancer, Alzheimer's disease and other illnesses, has died in Nebraska at age 98.

Mexican boy who had massive tumor recovering

Nov 25, 2014

An 11-year-old Mexican boy who had pieces of a massive tumor removed and who drew international attention after U.S. officials helped him get treatment in the southwestern U.S. state of New Mexico is still recovering after ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.