Haiti Medical Assistance

Children's Hospitals Volunteer Teams
NACHRI Coordination Center

Updated: February 2, 2010
(Please return frequently to this Web site for updated information.)

Pediatric Relief Discussion List

If you are involved in Haiti relief efforts and would like to join this discussion list to connect with colleagues involved in pediatric relief efforts, please contact Brian Johnson.

NACHRI, in cooperation with the AAP, has been working to advocate and provide a central coordination point to help rapidly organize pediatric specific teams to care for the injured children of Haiti. We have been in contact with several branches of the U.S. government, including participation in extensive planning sessions with the Chief Medical Officer and the Program Bureau Chief of the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS). Our goal is to get pediatric teams from children's hospitals in the right place at the right time to provide optimum assistance in a very chaotic and difficult environment.

February 1, 2010
HHS Activates Additional Components of National Disaster Medical System to Help U.S. Hospitals Treat Survivors of Earthquake in Haiti 
As part of the ongoing medical response to the Haiti earthquake, USAID, the agency coordinating the US Government response, announced today that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has activated additional components of the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) to help U.S. hospitals provide care to critically ill survivors.

CMS issues FAQ on Medicaid coverage for Haiti survivors

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has published answers to frequently asked questions concerning the Medicaid coverage status of evacuees from the Jan. 12 Haitian earthquake. According to CMS, several areas have been targeted to receive evacuees based on their available medical facilities and substantial Haitian populations: Miami and Orlando, FL; Atlanta; Washington, D.C.; New York; Philadelphia; and Boston.

The Coordination System

The Haitian government is working with PAHO, the Pan American Health Organization and WHO to provide primary coordination for the huge number of medical assistance teams, equipment and supplies already on the ground and headed toward Haiti from around the world. The United States is one such provider of people and supplies and, like all participating nations, the U.S. is limited to a specified number of personnel on the ground during this emergency.

The U.S. Health and Human Services Department and the NDMS say they have reached their currently allowed capacity levels under the PAHO/WHO coordination program. Because of the difficult conditions on the ground, those teams will likely be tasked for shorter periods. We expect additional pediatric teams and personnel will be needed for subsequent rotations. 

NACHRI and AAP have advocated an expeditious process to authorize our medical teams under Federal protection to provide help for injured Haitian children.  Due to the in-country limitations on federally-employed teams, the application process and the time required for approval of the federalization of new personnel for such a mission, HHS and the NDMS advise us that volunteer teams eager to go more quickly to Haiti may be able to do so by partnering with established NGOs.

NACHRI and AAP Advocate for Pediatric Needs in Haiti Disaster Relief Efforts: Conference Call

Listen to this recording of the conference call held on January 18 with Michael R. Anderson, MD, FAAP, associate professor of pediatric, vice president & associate chief medical officer, Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, and senior medical officer, the National Disaster Medical System as he offers an update of disaster relief efforts. Also featured are speakers Mary Gorman, Vice President of Education, Member Services & MIS; Jackson Bain, Vice President, Public Affairs and Patricia Adair, Director of Education and Member Services.

Established NGOs Now Working in Haiti

NACHRI has a partial list of established NGOs now working in Haiti with which members have had experience.  If you are working with or know of established organizations not on this list, please send their contact information to Patricia Adair at NACHRI.

NACHRI neither approves nor recommends any NGOs in the following list.

Five Important Points

  • Pediatric teams working with NGOs will not have the support of the U.S. military, and their practice will not be covered under a special tort treaty between the United States and Haiti. 
  • Teams should be prepared to bring all that is needed to achieve a high level of self-sufficiency, including provision of food, water and accommodation for staff -- for the entire mission's duration. Please see the planning questions below.
  • NACHRI is NOT selecting these teams, but is acting as an information center for volunteers to more quickly respond and get involved in this emergency program, through NGOs and with NDMS.
  • The global effort to help the people of Haiti after this devastating tragedy is a long-term challenge, and your team's help will be needed for short missions for months--perhaps even years--in the future.
  • Your hospital should appoint a Key Coordination Officer for these efforts.  This should be a central contact such as your CMO, CNO or another senior person who can commit resources to your participation in this emergency program.  That person should forward their contact information to NACHRI: ch4haiti@nachri.org.

Please note that NACHRI will continue to gather information you submit about your volunteer teams.  We will work with your Key Coordination Officer to submit that information to appropriate NGOs and the NDMS for potential partnerships or deployment.

Volunteer Organizing Spreadsheet

NACHRI has prepared a spreadsheet (Excel) and instructions (Word) to help each hospital organize key volunteer information.  When completed, this spreadsheet should be sent to ch4haiti@nachri.org.

While surgical needs are still important, medical needs are shifting to wound care, rehabilitation, infectious disease, and caring for the psychological impact of the disaster.

Individual volunteers can work through the Health and Human Services (HHS) department to offer their services. HHS has set up an email where medical professionals can send offers of volunteer medical care services: Haiti.volunteer@hhs.gov.  Those interested in volunteering can send an email that includes name, clinical area, specialty skills, degrees, and language capabilities (in particular, whether the volunteer speaks Haitian Creole or French and if so, level of fluency). This information will be logged and it will be shared with USAID. Volunteers may be contacted if an opportunity becomes available that matches the volunteer’s skill set.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does my hospital get involved?

1) Your hospital should appoint a central decision-maker as your Key Contact for this emergency program.  In other hospitals, that person has been the CMO or CNO.  Please appoint a person who is able to quickly commit people and equipment resources to the team deployment.
2) Fill out the sample spreadsheet and send it to ch4haiti@nachri.org.

What time commitment will my team need to make?

Depending on the assignment and the government or NGO supporting the team, time commitments will be varying lengths.  Transport team commitments can be 3-5 days and in country volunteers can be two weeks.

Where will my team be stationed?

More information on potential locations of teams is forthcoming.

What is the recommended team composition?

For those hospitals that can send teams, a downloadable Medishare spreadsheet showing Haiti pediatric staffing needs is available.

Who else can I contact to volunteer?

Contact Project Medishare.

What will the living conditions be like?

Teams should note that the conditions in Haiti are extremely austere, are likely to remain so for an indefinite time and experience in previous disasters or in wartime theaters is helpful in preparing for those conditions. 

Critical Logistics, Health and Safety Considerations:

To help your teams prepare, here are some basic planning questions to consider before your team commits to a mission to Haiti.  These questions were prepared by a U.S. security company, and the content reflects their assessment of the situation on the ground in Haiti at this time:

  1. Safety and security are paramount for any disaster relief operation, especially to Haiti.  Looting and gunfire are being reported during the night in the city and militia/rebel groups have long been present within the country.
  2. Potable water is among the most pressing issues at this point and there is no way of knowing when or if the Haitian system will work again.  Food and fuel are also in short supply.  Infection will begin to be a prominent health issue as the cuts, scrapes, and crushing injuries go unattended.  Malaria could become rampant if it is not already. 
  3. This will be a hot, humid environment with no air conditioning, or waste facilities for the foreseeable future.   Personnel must be ready for this and pack/dress accordingly.
  4. Clothing and personal accessories should be kept to a minimum.
  5. All medications should be brought from the U.S. and not procured in Haiti.  Vaccinations needed are: routine, Hep A, Hep B, typhoid and potentially rabies along with anti-malarial drugs (not Halofantrine).

These questions should be answered before launch:

  • Who takes us in and gets us out?  Where are the ingress and egress points?
  • How many days are expected to be served by the members deployed... 5, 10, 20 days in country?
  • Once on the ground, what and where are the teams fed?  Most likely this is straight  MRE (Meals Ready to Eat) and water. If so, who is providing the MREs and water?  Consuming MREs daily for an extended period will keep volunteers nourished but it gets old for those not experienced. In this environment, at least one gallon of water per person is needed daily.
  • Is there a main camp or are different organizations housed in different areas? 
  • Where do the teams sleep? Indoors/outdoors, on cots/sleeping bags?
  • What type of waste (bathroom) system is being used?
  • Who is responsible for camp and member security?
  • Where are the treatment "facilities" and are they secure?  What are the shifts to be worked or are the doors locked and patients prevented from entry at "the end of the day."
  • Considerations if treatment "facilities" are separate from the "camp":  Who is in charge of transporting members from camp to work and back each day?  Are those transports covered by security?  Doctors/nurses will mean drugs to militia types or desperate citizens.
  • What is emergency evacuation policy for members?  Who is in charge of deciding when a member can or should be evacuated and who/what organization is in place to conduct the evacuation?


Public Affairs and Media Coordination

During this emergency, it is important to gather your stories, anecdotes, photos or video of your team's experience.  We want to tell the national story of commitment by all of our participating hospitals as this relief program unfolds.  Please send those to NACHRI when available.

Please coordinate media queries, as needed, with NACHRI for the national perspective on this relief effort.

Media Contact:

Gillian Ray
Director, Public Relations
(703) 797-6027

To describe NACHRI's role, please use the following language:

NACHRI is providing a central coordination point for pediatric specialist teams from children's hospitals across the country to be processed for partnerships with NGO's or for approval by the National Disaster Medical System of HHS.   Volunteers to be federalized are approved by NDMS, which arranges for deployment and Federal support.