Georgians work to organize doctors

Georgians work to organize doctors

January 20th, 2010 by Allison Kwesell in News

Staff Photo by Allison Kwesell/Chattanooga Times Free Press Solange Gonbaun, left, and Relal Beidon look for their son amid the rubble of his school in downtown Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Staff Photo by Allison Kwesell/Chattanooga Times Free Press Solange...

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Only once before has James Jennings seen worse devastation than earthquake-shattered Haiti.

"The magnitude of this disaster exceeds anything that I have seen in half a dozen other earthquakes around the world, except possibly the Asian tsunami," said Mr. Jennings, referring to the December 2004 tsunami that killed nearly 230,000 people in Southeast Asia.

"We see people who are very resilient, but many of the wounded are lacking hope and some of them will die," said Mr. Jennings, who lives in Flowery Branch, Ga., an Atlanta suburb. "They will not survive the post-operative phase."

Founder and president of Conscience International, an organization created in 1982 to bring emergency medical response around the world, Mr. Jennings is in Haiti to assess how the group best can help.

Along with logistics director Albert M. Nixon and a single physician, he is trying to secure shelter, food and security so Conscience International can bring more physicians and medical aid.

"There's a tremendous amount of devastation, a lot of people that are injured, the hospitals are overwhelmed," Mr. Nixon said.


Times Free Press staff photographer Allison Kwesell is in Haiti with locally based relief groups. She is sending photos and dispatches sharing her personal observations about what she sees this week. See the paper this week and on Sunday.

But even if more doctors came in, the lack of life-saving supplies such as oxygen, drugs and other medical equipment would make it almost impossible for them to do any good, he said.

"We need doctors, but the infrastructure is not ready to bring doctors in," Mr. Nixon. "The anesthesiologist here (at the United Nations camp) is having a very difficult time. There are so many things that are missing."

with editor's note, slide show, photos, links, tease to Haiti landing page, video and audio by Alli and sidebar "Haiti observations"