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Sanford Health Crew Helping Haitians

By Kelli Grant
Published: January 22, 2010, 6:07 PM

A group of physicians, surgeons and nurses from Sanford Health traveled to the Dominican Republic Wednesday to help severely injured people in Haiti. Their bags were packed for a weeks stay along with supplies to help fix bones broken by crumbling concrete.

But these physicians knew reality wouldn't set it until they arrived in the Dominican Republic.

"It's really kind of an overwhelming experience from the fact that this is an orphanage that has a clinic and two surgical suites. That's what it was originally intended for," Sanford Clinic Executive Vice President Rich Adcock said.

Adcock is now the incident co-commander for the make-shift hospital.

"Where we're at is a very safe location. This really is the Haitian hospital now. Even though it's in the Dominican Republic, it's right on the border and everybody acknowledges that there are no hospitals left in Haiti," Adcock said.

What was an orphanage just days ago, is now a place where more than 300 patients are waiting for treatment.

"We have teams right now that are actually going into Port-au-Prince and bringing patients back. Still as we sit here, there are thousands of patients that are still coming out alive. It's not going to be much longer that that will happen," Adcock said.

Sanford orthopedic surgeons work through the night, trying to save legs and lives.

"There's a lot of surgery that has been happening. Unfortunately, there's a lot of amputation because the wounds have just gone on too long," Adcock said.

Adcock says besides surgery, the team is focusing on setting up a command center, working on patient flow and surgical scheduling. Thursday they helped to open a lab and are working on starting radiology services.

"It's an incredible effort, honestly quite overwhelming to try to get your head around in very short order," Adcock said.

Right now, the team has plans to fly back to Sioux Falls on Wednesday but Adcock says they're thinking about one day at a time.

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