Heroes in Haiti: Dr. Michel Dodard assists local clinics in Port-au-Prince
By Jennifer Browning
A week after the earthquake shook the capital of Haiti, Dr. Michel Dodard* returned to the Port-au-Prince neighborhood where he grew up. He joined forces with his brother-in-law Dr. Daniel Henrys, a family physician and public health specialist.
With the doctors’ expertise and with Dr. Dodard’s access to supplies at the Project Medishare and University of Miami compound, the two opened up the Rue Lamarre Clinic within two days of Dr. Dodard’s arrival. The location of the makeshift clinic was a special place for these two doctors for several reasons. This was where Dr. Henrys grew up, and were his father, Dr. Max Henrys, had practiced medicine for decades.
For Dr. Dodard, this was where he met his wife, Daniel’s sister. But the landscape had changed, buildings outside were crumbled and the steps where Dr. Dodard had asked for his wife’s hand in marriage were now filled with patients waiting to be seen.
Dr. Dodard and Dr. Henrys organized medical volunteers which comprised of mostly third and fourth-year medical students and nurses. These students formed teams and traveled everyday on foot to surrounding neighborhoods such as Champ de Mars, Kafou Fey, or Bel Air where the medical care had been spotty or nonexistent.
“The clinic at Rue Lamarre became a site of “Medecins du Monde” which provided organization and logistic support as well as access to essential medications,” Dr. Dodard said.
Dr. Dodard also brought along the assistance of Dr. Arturo Brito, a Miami community pediatrician and fellow Katrina veteran, and UM pediatrician, Dr. Gwen Wurm. Dr. Brito worked with the team at Medecins du Monde and coordinated with the Haitian volunteer teams who journeyed out into the surrounding neighborhoods.
Dr. Wurm, joined Dr. Dodard in visiting a local orphanage to access the ground facilities there. During an assessment, Dr. Wurm seeing that the orphanage offered extensive ground facilities worked to convert the site’s lodging room into a pediatric discharge facility. The orphanage had its own medications and medical supplies which had been donated over the years, which helped establish the site as a makeshift medical clinic.
Dr. Dodard and Dr. Henrys worked efficiently and quickly to coordinate their knowledge of medicine and neighborhood logistics to help those earthquake victims not only in the city but the very heart of the neighborhood where they lived, played, learned and grew up. There are many stories like this. Tales of local heroism and bravery that were missed by the mainstream media. Many Haitian American doctors like Dr. Dodard and Dr. André Vulcain* immediately sprung into action to assist those local doctors already trying to set up medical clinics in their neighborhoods in order to meet the needs of the many victims lining up on their doorsteps. These doctors and their Haitian colleagues are hope for Haiti’s capital as they work toward helping their Haitian brothers and sisters continue the healing process.
*Dr. Michel Dodard is on the Project Medishare Board of Directors as well as the Director for The Haiti Project. Dr. André Vulcain is the University of Miami’s Faculty Liaison for the The Haiti Project which the Miller School of Medicine has sponsored during the past six years. The Haiti Project works towards the training of Family Physicians and the establishment of a Family Practice Center at Justinien Hospital, a teaching hospital located in the city of Cap-Haitien, in the northern part of the country.