Cooper medical team returns from Haiti

    The doctors, nurses and technicians describe the experience as life-changing.

    Medical staff from Cooper University Hospital are back in Camden after spending two weeks caring for victims of the Haitian earthquake. The doctors, nurses and technicians describe the experience as life-changing.

    When we last heard from Cooper nurse Nancy Cadet, she was still in the Dominican border town of Jimani trying to calm an eight-year-old amputee who screamed before doctors even touched her.

    Cadet: Think, she’s lost her leg, she’s a little girl. She thinks anytime anyone in the medical field comes close to her she thinks she’s gonna lose another part of her body.

    Today, Cadet is back in Camden. She says the girl is in a post-operative care unit set up at a Haitian orphanage, just across the border from the Dominican Republic.

    Cadet: What we did there was put her with other children who had stumps and they did better because they saw they werent the only ones so that was good.

    Cadet arrived back in Camden on Friday from the Dominican Republic, where she helped set up a pediatric unit at a church. She says the needs remain.

    Cadet: Everything. There’s nothing you can name that they don’t need. Something as small as a pacifier, we need for some of the kids.

    Orlando DeBessa works as a critical care doctor at Cooper.

    DeBessa: Its a humbling experience.  Almost nostalgically you start thinking my goodness you left these people over there with nothing. And how stoic they are, how resilient and they still find happiness, still find a way to smile, to sing.

    DeBessa says wonders how some of his patients are doing, like the man who suffered second and third degree burns on 40 percent of his body. Josh Torres-Cruz, an emergency medical doctor, says a few stay with him as well.

    Torres-Cruz: I think about this eight year old girl we saw with a leg amputation and who we couldnt give any pain medications to and we scrubbed and put her through pain for twenty minutes. And the first thing out of her mouth was ‘merci doctor,’ which means thank you. She not once screamed, or not once cried. She was very stoic and strong and those were the kinds of things that impacted me the most.

    Trauma surgeon D’Andrea Joseph says after operating on grateful patients using little anesthesia, she has little patience for Americans who complain about being stuck more than once by an intravenous needle.

    Joseph: I mean I used to think a three-star hotel was camping in my opinion. Now I know I can actually survive with less than that.

    Many of the patients are now back across the border in Haiti, at a site where authorities plan to construct a refugee camp.

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