According to online sources:
Loma Linda University has launched a program in Haiti dealing with one of the country’s most glaring needs — rehabilitation treatment for the disabled. The program is one of the first of its kind in the country.
Sixteen Haitians are now studying for a certificate that will allow them to serve as rehab technicians. After they graduate in February 2013, they will help their neighbors regain physical functionality that was lost in the 2010 earthquake or through other circumstances.
“I am feeling so good and proud to be useful in my life,” said Fortilus Cedieu, one of the new students. “Helping people is very important.”
Another student, Edgard Bommier, said he is happy to study in the program because “my people need it.” He is from the destroyed town of Léogâne, at the epicenter of the 7.0 earthquake in 2010, where many people now live with amputations.
“Comparing the current poverty of rehabilitation services in Haiti to the almost insurmountable number of individuals with disabilities made me realize we needed to do something about this dire situation,” said Everett Lohman III, program director and professor of physical therapy at Loma Linda University.
The certificate program is based at a sister university and hospital to Loma Linda University and Medical Center— Universite Adventiste d’Haiti and Hopital Adventiste d’Haiti in Carrefour, outside Port-au-Prince. The program is designed to fill a major gap in the country’s medical infrastructure, which includes only a few physical therapists and currently lacks occupational therapists. This is for a country that, even before the earthquake, had an estimated 10 percent disabled population. That percentage has only grown since then. To date, many people have had to rely on international workers for rehabilitation services.
“Foreign volunteers are starting to dwindle as memories of the earthquake fade,” says Heather Thomas, co-director of the program and associate professor of occupational therapy at LLU. “What we hope is that more Haitians will be rehabilitated; But we’re also hoping that this will instill the idea that further rehab education is needed. Eventually a bachelor’s degree program in occupational therapy and physical therapy needs to be developed in Haiti.”
Over the past two years, Loma Linda University has helped coordinate approximately 2,000 volunteers who have worked with either the hospital or Adventist University in Haiti. LLU has also helped to stabilize hospital operations, upgrade services such as orthopedic surgery, improve facilities such as the laboratory and operating rooms, and install critical infrastructure systems such as reliable power and a purified water system.