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Alumnus Assists in Treatment of Haiti Earthquake Casualties

SIOUX FALLS – Dr. Dale Peterson, class of 1960, is assisting in the medical treatment of those injured in the Haiti earthquake.

He is a volunteer physician at Hôpital Sacré Coeur in Milot, located about 75 miles from Port-au-Prince. It is the largest private medical facility in Northeastern Haiti.

“This is a disaster of catastrophic proportions,” Dr. Peterson wrote in an e-mail. “Please keep the injured patients and the medical teams who are working to save them around the clock in your prayers.”

On Tuesday, Dr. Peterson said the hospital received 12 patients transported from Port-au-Prince by Coast Guard and Navy helicopters. He said the facility and staff is prepared to handle much greater numbers. 

“The current effort is still inadequate; many more people are stranded in Port-au-Prince in dire need of care and the clock is ticking. Our biggest obstacle is lack of helicopters.”

Hôpital Sacré Coeur surgical teams did 16 procedures Tuesday, operating until 11:30 p.m. Six surgeries were scheduled today.

“We expect the airlifts to increase and possibly two busloads of injured from Port-au-Prince, a six- to eight-hour ride over rough roads. The local residents of Milot have been enthusiastic to support the effort in every way possible, offering their homes to families of patients and filling potholes in the road so the ambulance will have a smoother ride from the field to the airport.”

Helicopters are landing at a soccer field with UN workers managing arrivals and departures. Two schools near the hospital have been converted into additional space for patient beds.

As the only hospital in the region, Hôpital Sacré Coeur and its center for healthcare education serve the people of Northeastern Haiti, regardless of religion, economic status or disease. Each year, the staff of 100 doctors and nurses cares for more than 3,000 inpatients and more than 60,000 outpatients.

The hospital has 73 beds, a pediatric wing, a specialty outpatient clinic, and a modern laboratory. Its Nutrition Center provides two free meals a day to more than 40 pre-school children and its Mobile Clinic travels to rural villages within a 12-mile radius to serve more than 225,000 people. More than 100 volunteers travel to Milot every year at their own expense to provide hands on assistance.

Dr. Peterson practices Urology in Wenatchee, Wash. He has been volunteering in Haiti since 1986.

Image above, right: The medical staff at Hôpital Sacré Coeur in Milot, along with Dr. Peterson's staff from Wenatchee, Washington. Dr. Peterson is the fourth person from the right.

View photos sent by Dr. Peterson from the hospital:

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