Helping in Haiti: An OMS' firsthand account

2010 02 19 01 37 33 853 2010 02 19 Haiti Thumb

After 11 days in Port-au-Prince draining infections, fixing broken mandibles, and being escorted day and night by military personnel, oral and maxillofacial surgeon (OMS) Kanyon Keeney, D.D.S., is glad to be home.

“It was a gut-wrenching experience.”
— Kanyon Keeney, D.D.S

"It was a gut-wrenching experience," he said. "We saw people dying every day."

Dr. Keeney, a private practice OMS based in Glen Allen, VA, was part of a medical team that arrived in Haiti January 30, just two weeks after the massive earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands and left just as many homeless.

"We had to fly into the Dominican Republic and then cross the border into Haiti," he said. "The military has taken over the airport in Port-au-Prince, and commercial flights aren't being allowed to land there."

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All images courtesy of Kanyon Keeney, D.D.S.
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All images courtesy of Kanyon Keeney, D.D.S.
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All images courtesy of Kanyon Keeney, D.D.S.
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All images courtesy of Kanyon Keeney, D.D.S.
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All images courtesy of Kanyon Keeney, D.D.S.
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All images courtesy of Kanyon Keeney, D.D.S.
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All images courtesy of Kanyon Keeney, D.D.S.
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All images courtesy of Kanyon Keeney, D.D.S.
Helping in Haiti
All images courtesy of Kanyon Keeney, D.D.S.

The team spent the first few days working in a makeshift clinic across the street from the collapsed presidential palace. The bulk of the patients Dr. Keeney saw there had infections that needed to be drained and treated, he said. At night they slept on the roof of the nearby police headquarters for safety.

"We were right next to where they were giving out rice rations," he said. "There were riots at first and lots of people were killed."

He and his colleagues spent the latter part of their trip working at a University of Miami hospital facility that had been set up at the airport, next to the United Nations headquarters. At that point Dr. Keeney's focus shifted to repairing broken jaws, he said.

More aid needed

This was not Dr. Keeney's first medical mission to Haiti, and it won't be his last, he said.

"They are going to need long-term rotations of doctors down there," he said. "Right now they need mostly oral surgeons. But as things get stabilized, they will need all kinds of oral care. I saw people with fractured legs who were complaining more about dental pain than their legs."

He hopes to head to Haiti again soon and is looking for additional doctors to join him.

"As the years go by, we will need volunteer dentists to go down and provide care," Dr. Keeney said. "This will be a very important part of this country's recovery."

If you are interested in contacting Dr. Keeney about future missions to Haiti, email him at [email protected].

Copyright © 2010 DrBicuspid.com

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