Grants Pass Group Travels to Haiti
Many of you followed the story of the team from Grants Pass that traveled to Haiti to help the local population there shortly after the massive earth quake that rocked the region. This month (March) an article was published in the North Pacific Union GLEANER magazine. Below you will find the Gleaner story in it's originally-written entirety. You will also find a round-table interview held shortly after the team's return at the Grants Pass Seventh-day Adventist Church. Farther down you will find the original blog-style messages we recieved while the group was in Haiti and the local coverage given them in southern Oregon.
Grants Pass Group Returns from Haitian-Relief Trip
By Gloria Wilson
Flying home from Haiti, my mind went back and replayed the events of the last couple of weeks. I saw God's hand over and over providing, protecting and guiding. The many miracles brought smiles as I reflected on them, especially one.
We had arrived at Haiti and had been unable to make contact with the part of our team that came a week ahead of us. Desperately looking for them, we saw some large tents at the Haiti airport and pulled in there. The UN greeted us but had not heard of our group from International Hope and Rescue. They pointed us to a new M*A*S*H unit just being built by University of Miami School of Medicine. They invited us to work with them and sleep in their large circus-sized tent (with cots!) and fed us supper. Tired from our long trip, we gratefully accepted their invitation.
In the morning, we heard from the initial team who still wanted us to join them. Now what? We had committed to help the M*A*S*H unit. Huddling together, we prayed for guidance and in walked a man, dazed and weary, saying, "the M*A*S*H unit has plenty of staff. You need to go out where the people are." He proceeded to tell us his story of how he had worked to save 100 people when another quake brought the roof down and killed all of them. He again pleaded with us to go where the people were and then he left. We had our marching orders.
We were taken to our new headquarters/home base. It was a large house sturdily built into and on a large rock, (but no running water). Concrete block walls surrounded the property and had a 20' steel gate with an armed guard inside. At night we could hear all the VooDoo drums beating, people chanting, singing and yelling at a fevered pitch all around us. It lasted all night every night and combined with dogs barking and guns firing. But we felt safe inside the walls, but our safety was in the Lord and His mighty power. THANK YOU EVERYONE WHO WAS PRAYING FOR US.
Each day we set up our make-shift clinic with crates and plywood that we borrowed from the unsafe school close by. We put up tarps for shade, set out chairs and started receiving patients. A steady stream of patients came as our two doctors, two nurses and 4-5 EMTs started treating them with the help of translators. There were wounds of every size, shape, depth and condition. Most were infected. We had to debrid them of crust and pus, often a painful procedure for them. After cleaning the wounds, we applied antibiotic ointment and dressed them. Oral antibiotics were given as well as ibuprofen for pain.
Perhaps the most difficult thing we had to do was refuse to give food and/or water to people. To do so would cause a stampede that we could not handle, which part of our team had already experienced. It tore our hearts out to hear one little boy whose mother was killed in the earthquake and his father's leg was cut off. They had no money, food or water. I can't tell you how hard it was to say no. It helped to remember how Jesus longed to heal everyone at the Pool of Bethesda but could not because it would prevent his ministry there.
Lack of water caused many health problems, as well as all the concrete dust in the air. How do you tell someone to increase their water intake when they have so little? They had stomach aches, headaches, constipation, and high blood pressure. Their lungs and eyes were irritated and causing much discomfort. There were some broken bones that we splinted and sent them to the local hospital. We did a couple minor surgeries and some we referred to the M*A*S*H unit.
Part of our group went up the hill behind our clinic to treat patients whose injuries prevented them from coming. At first, we were able to pray with each one, but soon there were too many pressing in to be treated.
The Haitian people were walking around dazed, not knowing where to go from here. They had all lost family members and their sadness was on their faces - expressionless. They lived in tents made of ordinary sheets. Some didn't even have that.
I left Haiti with the good feeling that comes from helping others in need. I was also more appreciative of what I have. And I admired the young men who pulled this team together (in their 20's). They had just recently formed International Hope and Rescue and filed for non-profit status when the earthquake happened. They responded quickly without adequate time to prepare for this amazing venture, but God sent the people they needed to make it happen. Even on short notice, Dr. Brad Personius was able to procure medicines and supplies from 3 Rivers Community Hospital in Grants Pass.
What a joy it was to hear young Oliver Personius say that he wished he could get the architectural students at universities involved in a contest for designing an inexpensive house for Haitians. As he verbalized his desire, Rosa Marie Garcia, president of Dominican/Haiti Chamber of Commerce, said it was a great idea and she would do all she could to help make it happen. Isn't it interesting that she "just happened" to be riding in the same car as Oliver?
The needs are great in Haiti and will take the help of many with varied talents. Is God calling you to help? Is He challenging you to give donations? If so, he will enable you. For help or donations, you can contact International Help and Rescue at Inhisrescue.com or ADRA at ADRA.com.
Thanks again for all your prayers. May the love of the Father, the fellowship of the Holy Spirit and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always.
Round-Table Interview Video
Watch the round-table interview held February 6, with the team, led by local cardiologist, Brad Personius, MD.
Includes Gloria Wilson, RN, Celso Esquivil, painting contractor, and Oliver Personius.
Original Blog-Style Reports Recieved From the Group While in Haiti
Updated 1-19-10 3:30pm
Local Haiti Relief Group Traveled throughout the Night and will arrive in Dominican Republic at 5 pm today 1/19/10.
Local Cardiologist, Brad Personius ( of Cardiology Consultants PC), his son Oliver Personius (Grants Pass), Grants pass Contractor Celso Esquivel, nurse Gloria Wilson – Gold Hill arrived in Ft. Lauderdale Florida early this morning (Tues). This group of 4 local folks met up with a group of 2 other physicians, 3 EMT’s & 2 nurses coming from various places in the US. They will be leaving this afternoon and will be arriving at approximately 5:00 p.m. in the Dominican Republic today. They then believe they will traveling with armed personnel to Port-au-Prince to bring relief to overworked staff in a ADRA Adventist inflatable hospital or as a number two choice at a secured army/navy portable hospital in Port-a-Prince. If the situation is too unstable, the group may be re-routed to Jamani, Dominican Republic to bring relief to a make-shift hospital near the border of Haiti.
The group is traveling with over 600 lbs. of durable/disposable medical supplies, medications and pharmaceuticals that were donated from Asante Rogue Valley and Three Rivers inpatient pharmacy. Local Allegiant air personnel accepted all medical supplies and waived baggage fees to assist this humanitarian effort.
Before their departure the three local men continued to hear of the overwhelming need for medical assistance. In the Medford airport yesterday, the three men spoke seriously of the anticipated chaos and life-changing experience they were about to embark on.
Chief Executive officer Win Howard along with Roy Vinyard Asante Chief Executive officer coordinated with Mr. Brian Murphy director of Material management to supply the group from Asante’s Warehouse.
Dr. Tom Turek Vice President of medical affairs coordinated cardiology coverage for Dr. Personius
Photo: Pictured from left to right - Dr. Brad Personius, Oliver Personius, Celso Esquivel, Jordan Personius. Also pictured is all the donated medical supplies traveling with them.
Updated 1-20-10 11:05am
Our local Rogue Valley team of 4 (Brad Personius -Cardiologist of Cardiology Consultants, Goria Wilson - RVMC Rehab Nurse, Brad's son Oliver Personius & Celso Esquivel - Grants Pass Contractor were joined by 5 others in Fort Lauderdale yesterday (1 doctor, 1 nurses, & 3 EMT's). The team of nine landed safely in Santo Domingo yesterday afternoon and have been in contact. All their baggage came through and everything is accounted for. This team has been very blessed. They stayed at the Seventh-day Adventist Union offices in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic for the night for safety precautions. They were told it's too dangerous to travel at night. Early this morning they are hiring a truck and driver to take them to the Adventist hospital in Port-au-Prince. Keep them in your prayers....they will be in the center of the city where help is most needed. They have been in contact with ADRA (Adventist Development & Relief Agency) and are now getting help through them. I'll let you know more as I learn more. Thanks to each and every one of you for your prayers and support!
Updated 1-20-10 12:03pm
Kelli Personius, Jordan's wife, and communications laison for Loma Linda received a couple of emails and texts from the group early this morning and they are safe. She is hoping to get a call from them later today when they actually get to Port-au-Prince. First of all, if any of you have heard about a helicopter going down with Union IRR students going down, THIS IS A RUMOR! It's not true... Below is an email I got from one of the guys in the group.
So we are driving to the border of haiti in a rental van and we had not been able to contact ADRA in over a day, our plans were too get to the border and go from there....we prayed for guidance about 2 hours ago since we didn't really know what we were going to do...within 15 minutes of reaching the border an adra van came up behind us on the road and stopped us...out steps Chuck Sandefur the president of ADRA, and Israel the local president....they told us they knew we were coming and we are now following them to the Adventist hospital.
God has really been blessing them...So this is the latest, and I'll get out more later.
Updated 1-22-10 10:36am
We got another email last night about what's going on with our group in Port-au-Prince.
The Rogue Valley group (Brad Personius, Oliver Personius, Gloria Wilson, Celso Esquivel, Jordan Personius + 4 other individuals from other geographical locations) arrived at the Adventist Development & Relief headquarters yesterday afternoon (Wednesday) in Port-au-Prince, their hospital was amply staffed so the ADRA director referred to another contact. The group spent yesterday afternoon trying to connect with the other International Help & Relief group that is two days ahead of our group. While attempting to meet up with this IHR group they were unable to locate them before it got dark. Our group was able to locate the United Nations headquarters and decided to see if they had made any sort of connection with the other IHR group. To make a long story short, and through many prayers, the UN invited our Rogue Valley group along with 5 others directly onto the Port-au-Prince airport to help set up and staff 4 hospitals! They are right in the middle of the chaos and trauma but, “We are sleeping on cots in a giant tent with a large group of medical staff from the university of Miami! We are fully secured by the UN military, and they are supplying us with meals!”
So they are safe and God is putting them where He wants them. Thank you all for your prayers!
Updated 1-25-10 3:00pm
Recieved update by phone from my husband Celso Esquivel and Dr Personius. Their group is now camping in a guarded home of a wealthy buisness man in Port-au-Prince. There are 30 volunteers in their group and they were the first medical crew to arrive at that site. They were able to help around 100 patients in one day. They feel overwelmed because there are so many wounded. Most type of injuries that they are dealing with are head traumas, fractures, burns and massive infections. The most critical are being transferred to the airport field hospital where they have surgeons on site. Most of those patients are needing amputations. They are running low on antibiotics but they sometimes swap supplies with other medical crews. They were able to find tables to use from a school that collapsed. They had to go into the building not knowing what was holding it up, needless to say they got out of there very quickly. There are bodies of children still buried under the rubble and the smell of decay is overwhelming. Through all this, they don't regret going, the only regret is that they wish they could do more. This was about all that they could say for now. They ask that we keep them and the people of Haiti in our prayers.
Sincerely, George Personius
Updated 2-1-10 11:25am
Our Rogue Valley group consisting of Brad Personius- Cardiologist, Celso Esquivel-Contractor, Gloria Wilson - Nurse and Oliver Personius - Student, arrived home late last night from their trip to Haiti. They have much to tell and some pictures to share.
They are still re-acclimating to having everything so available (water, food, shelter) once again.
Sincerely, George Personius
Local Media Coverage of the Team
The Mail Tribune chronicles the trip and the return of the team.