Local ophthalmologist documents mission to Haiti

August 26, 2010

With a bag full of extra supplies Dr. Edward Bedrossian, an ophthalmologist with Wills Eye Institute, set out on a medical mission to Haiti.

"Looking forward to helping the people down there any way I can," Bedrossian said before the mission.

We asked him to bring our Action News mini-camera and he gladly helped show us how Haiti is fairing 7 months after the earthquake that killed approximately 200,000 people.

Upon his arrival, he says it was easy to spot the devastation that still remains around Port-au-Prince.

Hundreds of thousands of people are still living in tents. Banks, churches, and hospitals are still under rubble.

Medical doctors there have set up tents outside ruined medical buildings, but are struggling to keep up.

Dr. Bedrossian is working with a project called the World Eye Mission. He says they treat anywhere from 100 to 200 patients per day.

Doctors screen the patients, many with infections or lacerations from debris.

One woman was hurt by a metal rod.

The operating room has no air conditioning and is shared.

On video, Dr. Bedrossian said, "We're doing two patients simultaneously in the same room. Something you would never see in the United States."

Still, he says, the staff is knowledgeable and procedures are kept sterile. The goal is not just to treat patients and leave, but to pass on more knowledge. Dr. Bedrossian gave lectures to the technicians and residents at the clinic.

"They're very interested in learning, they're very receptive, they're very gracious; they were very welcoming of our presence there," Dr. Bedrossian said to Action News after his return.

Plus, he found a few more glimmers of hope, sights of rebuilding, organizations helping, and a medical center. It went up three years ago and survived the earthquake.

"This is actually a pretty modern building and the facilities are outstanding," Dr. Bedrossian said on the video he recorded.

Still, it is very clear that more work is needed in Haiti.

"The progress is a lot slower than I ever imagined," Dr. Bedrossian said.

Dr. Bedrossian says he would like to go back to Haiti again in the future. He'd also like to bring more doctors with him to help.

More than $2-billion has been raised to help the relief effort, however, experts say it will take years to get Haiti back on its feet and there will be an on-going need for help.

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