One of the world’s most recent natural disasters occurred during a devastating earthquake in Haiti three years ago on Jan. 12, killing over 300,000 people and displacing more than a million — 350,000 of those people are still living in displacement camps, according to this report from the New York Daily News.
Cynthia Cichanowicz is an adult health nurse practitioner who took the tragedy to heart and traveled to Haiti three weeks after the earthquake in February of 2010. Cichanowicz is a Peconic resident who currently works in hematology and oncology in Riverhead and in Southampton. She is also on staff at Peconic Bay Medical Center and at Southampton Hospital. She was an RN for seven years before that at the trauma and burn units at Stony Brook University Hospital.
Here are her reflections on her experience in Haiti and pictures she shared from that time.
“I went three weeks after the earthquake in the beginning of February of 2010 and was there for a week. I was home on a Friday watching Anderson Cooper on CNN and was in tears seeing all the children homeless and most of them orphans. I just thought ‘I have to help these people.’
So I went online, found Project Medishare — a group from the University Of Miami and filled out a form with all my information, education, and license. They said it would probably be a few weeks to months before I got called. Well, 24 hours later, I got a call asking me to leave that Tuesday. So, in 72 hours I was on a plane to Haiti. We were in a tent hospital set up by the University of Miami, surrounded by Haitian guards as well as the U.S. Military.
The most memorable experience was our last day when we went out of our hospital and drove through the streets of Haiti to see all the destruction. There were buildings burnt and we were told that they were set on fire because there were people who were dead and trapped and because of the smell and sanitation reasons they had no choice but to light them on fire.
The U.S. military would come once a day and draw blood for us and take it back to their ship so we could manage the critical patients. We were right in the airport in Port-A-Prince. It had been taken over by the U.S. military and closed to commercial flights. Only charters and military flights allowed.
I did not go with anyone from his area, but I met four other amazing nurses who I still keep in touch with today, from Miami, Philidelphia and Texas. I worked with all medical staff ... doctors, nurses, surgeons, physical therapists from all over the world — France, England, and Canada."
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