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Dartmouth responds to earthquake in Haiti

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 1/15/10 • Media Contact: Office of Public Affairs (603) 646-3661

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Dartmouth College has mobilized to provide aid to those affected by the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12.

A group of nine medical personnel from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) will fly out of Lebanon, N.H., and head to Haiti tomorrow. The group includes surgeons, nurses, and a resident with specialties in trauma, plastic surgery, orthopedics, and anesthesiology. The plane will also carry as many medical supplies as possible.

President Jim Yong Kim met with the volunteers this afternoon. "I just want to say thank you," he said. "This is an amazing effort, and it will save a lot of lives."

Kim meeting
President Jim Yong Kim and others with Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center personnel who are headed to Haiti, in Kim's office on January 15. (Photo by Joseph Mehling ’69)

One of the volunteers is Brian Remillard, chief of nephrology at DHMC. "I've never done anything like this. I was sitting with my wife watching it on the news, and we decided it was something I should do," said Remillard, the father of two teenage boys.

Trauma surgeon Kurt Rhynhart called his wife as soon as he received a DHMC e-mail asking for volunteers. "We decided this is where I need to be, because this is what I do," he said.

The group will fly into the Dominican Republic and then have a seven- to eight-hour drive to Partners in Health (PIH) hospitals. PIH is a nonprofit medical relief organization with operations in several countries and an established presence in Haiti.

President Kim, a co-founder of PIH, has been in close contact with students, staff, and leaders from Dartmouth Medical School and DHMC to coordinate Dartmouth's response.

In a letter sent to the Dartmouth community January 14, Kim wrote: "The greatest threat to Haiti now is a delayed response from people and organizations of goodwill. Many of you have asked how you can help. The urgent need is financial support. I encourage you to donate to organizations that you know will make immediate use of your dollars for earthquake relief. I especially encourage you to consider a donation to Partners In Health."

Click here to donate to Partners in Health.

PIH hospitals, located in rural areas near Port-au-Prince that received less damage, are now serving as primary anchors of medical care. "Earthquake victims are streaming into PIH clinics," wrote Kim. 

Dartmouth students are also organizing to raise funds. “We’ve heard from many student groups who want to help—from the Tucker Foundation, the Afro and African American Society, and the Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean group. We’re trying to make this a campus-wide effort,” said President's Office Intern Maura Cass ’10. Cass and Molly Bode ’09, a presidential fellow in global health and higher education, helped develop a website where students can donate money to Partners in Health by using DASH cards, discretionary campus accounts used for general expenses.

Ibrahim Elshamy '09, student director of the Tucker Foundation, led a meeting last night attended by undergraduate and graduate students interested in participating in response efforts. "Numerous students have contacted the Tucker Foundation, both deeply upset and wanting to help," wrote Elshamy on the Tucker Foundation's Haiti response webpage. Another open meeting for students is planned for 6:30 p.m. on Sunday evening in Alumni Hall, Hopkins Center.

The Tucker Foundation will direct half of the voluntary offering from this Sunday’s Martin Luther King Jr. Community Faith Celebration concert to Haitian relief efforts. The other half of the donations will support Upper Valley Habitat for Humanity. The concert, featuring the Dartmouth College Gospel Choir and student ensembles, will be held on January 17 at 3 p.m. in Rollins Chapel. It is part of Dartmouth’s annual celebration of the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

"Moments like these are rare and challenge us to show our compassion for those who are facing unspeakable tragedy and desperation," wrote Kim in his community letter. "As [Dartmouth President from 1945 to 1970] John Sloan Dickey ’29 said, the world’s troubles are our troubles and right now, Haiti’s troubles are as horrific as anything I have witnessed. Let’s show the world that Dartmouth will step up when people are truly in need."

Dartmouth has television (satellite uplink) and radio (ISDN) studios available for domestic and international live and taped interviews. For more information, call 603-646-3661 or see our Radio, Television capability webpage.

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Last Updated: 1/18/10