AHA encourages U.S. hospitals to help with earthquake relief efforts

The American Hospital Association is encouraging U.S. hospitals to donate "time, money, supplies or equipment" to the Haiti earthquake relief efforts.

Haiti's healthcare system was in crisis even before the earthquake hit. Prior to the 7.0 magnitude quake that struck Jan. 12, Doctors Without Borders, an international medical humanitarian organization also known as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), referred to Haiti's healthcare situation as "an immediate public health crisis." Now, the situation is in dire straits. 

Many Haitian hospitals, including all three run by MSF, have either been destroyed or damaged beyond use. And while MSF is flying doctors and other medical staffers into the country, as well as a 100-bed inflatable portable hospital to help with surgeries, sterile saline is a precious commodity.

Irwin Redlener, director for the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, believes that eventually, post-traumatic stress disorder in the country will be "absolutely overwhelming." 

"It's highly likely that we're going to see a lot of patients who survive this trauma and then have exacerbations of existing conditions...or who develop stress-related medical disorders" and mental health issues, Irwin said. 

Aside from MSF, several U.S. and international organizations are attempting to reach out to the victims. The University of Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital, for example, and Shriners Hospital in Springfield, Mass., are accepting victims from the quake. Jackson Memorial has already taken in 11 injured survivors, while Shriners received approval Thursday to accept injured children from Haiti. 

For more information:
- read this Newsweek piece
- read this Associated Press story
- check out this news brief from WWLP.com