ROCKLAND COUNTY, N.Y. -- A group of 13 local residents, including County Legislator Aney Paul – a certified nurse practitioner – flew out of JFK Airport on Friday and headed to Haiti’s capital city of Port-Au-Prince on a medical relief mission to the hurricane ravaged nation.
The nurses are scheduled to visit three communities over the course of six days to administer any medical care possible, Paul said.
The mission has been organized by the Haitian American Nurses’ Association of Rockland County, which has been working to collect medicine, first aid supplies and children’s items such as formula, baby food, diapers and onesies.
The nurses will bring medicine, comprised mostly of over-the-counter items, in their carry-on bags.
Other efforts to provide large-scale deliveries of antibiotics are also under way.
“I am going to try to help people who really need it right now,” Paul said. “Parts of Haiti have been destroyed – homes and businesses blown away by the very strong hurricane winds or swept away by the ocean. Medical care can be difficult because of the destruction and because some communities are difficult to reach. This is a way to try to bring some relief to those who are struggling.”
Many residents of Haitian descent live in Rockland, and many have relatives living in Haiti, including those impacted by the storm.
Local activists have also been working on relief efforts.
Hurricane Matthew was a Category 4 storm when it hit the peninsula on Oct. 4.
Haiti, which already grapples with immense poverty, was still recovering from a massive 2010 earthquake when the storm hit.
As many as 1,000 people were killed and 1.4 million were left in need of humanitarian assistance, according to published reports.
Much of the nation’s southwestern region was destroyed, and a cholera outbreak is suspected of sickening about 1,200 people there, with an estimated 3,500 cases countrywide since the storm hit.
Last month, Rockland County Legislators voted 14-0 to back a resolution that allows the donation of surplus equipment and supplies from the closed Summit Park Hospital & Nursing Care Center for Haiti relief efforts.
The county will work with local agencies to coordinate the donation, requiring a detailed plan outlining how the materials will be shipped to Haiti and dispersed once they arrive.
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