Date: 2/26/2010

Community Healthcare System doctors provide Surgical Services in Haiti

Left to Right: Dawn Cook, RN; Richard Berkowitz, MD; Matina Harris, CRNA
David Robinson, MD; Priti Chowdury, MD; Julius Gore, MD

A team of doctors from the Community Healthcare System will leave Saturday to provide medical care for the victims of the January earthquake that devastated the impoverished nation of Haiti.

The doctors will be joining other physicians from around the country volunteering through the University of Miami Global Institute/Project Medishare. This non-profit organization affiliated with the University of Miami School of Medicine has been working improve healthcare in Haiti and is one of the agencies helping to provide health care services following the earthquake.

Traveling on this medical mission to Haiti are General Surgeon Russell Pellar, M.D. of Lake Surgical Associates in Munster; Plastic Surgeon David Robinson, M.D. of Indiana Plastic Surgery; anesthesiologists Richard Berkowitz, M.D., Priti Chowdhury, M.D. and Julius Gore, M.D., of Community Anesthesiologists; Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist Matina Harris of Community Anesthesiologists; and surgical nurse Dawn Cook, RN, of Community Hospital.

On behalf of the surgical group, Dr. Chowdhury initiated the request to help in Haiti shortly after the earthquake when she heard the appeals for surgical teams. The group was informed last week that their assistance was needed.

“I’ve been on a medical mission previously to Guatemala with Dr. Berkowitz and it was one of the best experiences to be able to help people who are so desperate for medical care,” Chowdhury said.

This medical team from Community Healthcare System will be performing surgeries from the capital city of Port-au-Prince, working at temporary medical tents set up at the airport. They will return in one week.

“Several of our physicians are interested in going to Haiti to help” said Dr. Robinson. “We all felt this was something good to do and we are fortunate that we could get away to do this. We don’t know what to expect, but we know there are a lot of needs helping people deal with infections, wounds and burns and that they will need repeated surgeries.”

Operating out of a tent and under less than ideal conditions will be very different from doing surgery at the hospitals where these physicians practice—Community Hospital in Munster, St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago and St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart. To share their experiences with others and bring awareness to the issues affecting the people of Haiti, Dr. Robinson will be sharing his experiences on a blog at:

Dr. Berkowitz, Chairman of the Department of Anesthesiology at Community Hospital, said he is prepared to do things he normally doesn’t do in his role at the hospital. With a background in Pediatric-intensive care, Berkowitz said his expertise outside of anesthesiology might be called upon, depending on the immediate needs.

“We’ll go where the need is the greatest and do what we can to make a difference,” Dr. Berkowitz said.