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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Blessing me on to Port-Au-Prince

Red Cross Haiti Earthquake appeal: The Spanish Red Cross have set up water supplies for the people crowding the place. (Photo: Olav A. Saltbones/ Norwegian Red Cross)

2.2.2010 Santo Domingo, The Dominican Republic

As I write, I am currently waiting in Santo Domingo to go by land to Haiti around 2am. Haiti had a massive earthquake on 12 January 2010. Didn’t think too much of this, but a few days later I had a call from the International Medical Corps asking me to be part of a mental health programme, led by Dr Lynn Jones. This aims to strengthen and develop mental health services after the earthquake.

From that point it has been hectic trying to organise my travel and all my arrangements. My employers, South West London and St. George’s Mental Health NHS trust, have supported me fully in this endeavour and have released me from my work for this time.

One of my tasks was to try and organise some medical supplies for Haiti. Support has been incredible. Through fundraising, I raised over £7000 of donations which has gone into buying medication which I can take directly to Haiti. Sticking to the required essential medication list, my three large boxes are packed with haloperidol, procyclidine, amitryptiline, fluoxetine, chlorpromazine to name a few. It is important to have a sustainable medical supply until supplies are re-established.

My journey to Haiti was made smoother when people found out my destination. Even at Heathrow, I was sped through towards the plane. In Miami, staff literally blessed me on! It was touching and certainly helped me get through transit to Santo Domingo. The flight to the Dominican Republic was full of relief workers; many were church-based and were from the US.

Santo Domingo - the scale of the earthquake really starts to hit me. On international development work scales, this has been the most exhausting, upsetting and personally demanding for those first on site. The relief effort has been going remarkably well all things considered. The first wave of emergency relief is coming to an end and now is heading towards the stage of future sustainable development.

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Re: Blessing me on to Port-Au-
All of the sudden the dimensions of the Haitian disaster became so much closer seen through the eyes of the psychiatrist colleague...Thank you for sharing your experiences and many good wishes for this harrowing work, stay safe. Maria Eyres, Locum Consultant Psychiatrist in Psychotherapy, ELFT
Re: Blessing me on to Port-Au-
Thanks Peter for your clinical work there, and for the vivid picture you paint on a subject which, as Karen says, is disappearing from our news but still very much in our thoughts.

Your blog is a powerful reminder (on Ash Wednesday, for me) of the fragility of all that we are and do. I look forward to future postings.
Re: Blessing me on to Port-Au-
Great work Peter
An Oxford surgeon just returned from Port au Prince - Chris Bulstrode - was on the radio this am. I hadnt realised how bad & widespread it all was till I heard his account & read your posts. The surgeon agreed with your sentiments, saying this disaster dwarfed all others he had been involved with. Look after yourself (too). Mark
Re: Blessing me on to Port-Au-
Dear Peter, Like Mark I heard Chris Bulstrode on the radio saying that there are more casualties than after the atomic bomb was dropped. Your blog also helps keep Haiti in the news. What amazing work you are doing in such terrible conditions.
Look after yourself.
A great thing you are doing
This has such resonance for me as I have extended family in Haiti - well some now dead or injured. My brother in law, dug out after 2 days surrounded by bodies of his colleagues, and only then because his daughter, a nurse in the Dom Rep, got in a landrover with some friends and went to find her Dad. Despite the huge aid effort it really does seem to be about individuals making a difference. One of the worst things we talk about in the family is the number of amputations, and the dreadful cultural stigma that holds in Haitian society.

You are doing a great thing.

Returned on the 12th from Hait
I am a trainee psychiatrist and I was in Port au prince from the 28th of Jan till the 10th of Feb. I don't know but you might find helpful contacting Quisqueya Crisis center (near canadian ambassy). They coordinate logistically, medical teams. Provide accomodation, food, transport and security on site. Number is 3773-4664. I worked at the haitian community hospital.
take care and God bless you
Re: Blessing me on to Port-Au-
people like you are inspiration to others to do good. I wish you all the best
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About this blog

Dr Peter Hughes - consultant psychiatrist








Dr Peter Hughes is a consultant psychiatrist based at Springfield University Hospital, London. He has an interest in international psychiatry and has been travelling to Africa over the last five years doing short-term assignments in mental health. He has recently flown to Haiti to work on a mental health programme.


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