A Hospital in Haiti–Day 3, pt. 2

James S. Gordon, MD Haiti 0 Comments

By James S. Gordon MD

Barth Green stands easily in the middle of the dusty yard in front of two small administrative tents, just inside the gate of the University of Miami’s Global Institute field hospital at the Port-au-Prince airport. His blue shirt is clean and crisp, cream colored pants still pressed, his grey hair combed straight back. There is a storm of activity around him, squalls of need coming from every corner of the encampment.

Men and women in scrubs, some with IV bottles in hand, rush up to ask questions. Military commanders and visiting dignitaries stand in a small circle around him. Barth Green responds  thoughtfully, unhurriedly, sometimes with humor, to each person in turn. He is the director of the hospital and of the entire facility – the huge tent which contains the operating room and the acute wards for children which are attached to it, the other large one for adults, the small tents for convalescence and isolation, the tent-barracks where hundreds of volunteers lie on cots just like the ones the patients have.

Barth Green is chairman of the department of neurosurgery at the University of Miami Medical School. Since 1994 he and his colleague, family physician Michael Fournier, have been leading Project Medishare in Haiti, helping (along with the US based Partners in Health and the Haitian Ministry) to bring good primary care to the Haitian countryside. When the earthquake hit on January 12, he and his colleagues moved quickly; volunteers arrived. Some were skilled as physicians, surgeons, OR techs and nurses; others were simply, surprisingly even to them. moved to help: “at least I’m another pair of hands,” more than one says. Since then the “barely controlled chaos” as several doctors describe it, has been providing treatment for thousands, saving lives. And a surprising life enhancing life changing experience of selfless service for many who have come to provide that treatment and save those lives. “For me,”  a tired looking fifty-ish U of M ER doc confides, “this has been the most important experience of my professional life. Maybe,” he adds after a moment, ” of my whole life.”

In Barth Green the surgeon’s calm amidst crisis and attention to present, necessary detail is coupled with  an understanding of long term needs. He knows that the deepest despair and the greatest distress may arise only when the immediate crisis is over; and he recognizes the importance of CMBM’s commitment to helping caregivers deal with their own stress and trauma and to teaching them to help the Haitian people to help themselves. He reads over our annual report and our tentative Haitian work plan, and shares them with Carl Eisdorfer, the former chair of Miami’s department of psychiatry, and present director of its program of aging, who has just arrived.

About the Author
James S. Gordon, MD

James S. Gordon, MD

Website Twitter LinkedIn Instagram

James S. Gordon, MD is Founder and Director of The Center for Mind-Body Medicine; Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Family Medicine; Georgetown University School of Medicine and author of Manifesto for a New Medicine, Comprehensive Cancer Care, and Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven Stage Journey out of Depression.

Related Posts

Breathing in, Breathing out: Haiti’s Children The Center is pleased to premiere the first of a series of short videos by award-winning documentary filmmaker Tod Lending on our Global Trauma Relief...
Back to School: So Much / So Little By Laura MilsteinAs children in the United States head back to school there is always a flurry of anticipation and excitement --- and the usual ru...
A Long Way to Go By James S. Gordon MDThe next day, before we leave, we spend time at the Foyer des Orphelins d’Haiti,  an orphanage not far from the airport. The ...
Now…and Then By James S. Gordon MDIn Port-au-Prince the next day, Kathleen and Catherine have the opportunity to see the small groups—with kids, teenagers, and...
  • Lynn Raskin

    Jim, you are a poet. I feel the acrid atmosphere, tragedy, loss, catastrophic scale, disorientation and resignation from your words.
    Thank you for the compassion and healing that you share in the most broken places.
    Lynn Raskin