Advance Team in Liberia on Front Lines of Ebola Fight

The HHI Advance Team arrived in Liberia and is already hard at work – meeting with partners, touring facilities and getting a lay of the land – prepping the way for the deployment of volunteer medical teams to provide care for the people of Liberia.

Advance Team & James

The team is being assisted by James Williams (striped shirt in photo above), the acting director of Healthy Women, Healthy Liberia, a Liberian non-profit that develops community-based healthcare programs.  James is helping to serve as a guide for our Advance Team.  A great connection!

Team member Sue Mangicaro, RN, from HHI’s corporate partner Welch Allyn, reports they heard both good and bad news when they met with representatives of Medical Teams International.  The good: MTI is in the process of training community healthcare workers on prevention and treatment of Ebola, however the bad is that they have had to pull their staff out of clinics because of the inherent risks involved in triage and contracting the disease.  The real fear of Ebola is causing the healthcare system to collapse, as HHI CEO Jim Mitchum recently discussed in an op-ed.

MTI clinic closed

A clinic closed in Monrovia, Liberia due to the Ebola outbreak.

 

handwashing station

Pictured above is one of many handwashing stations the team has come across in Liberia’s capital of Monrovia.  They reported the smell of bleach hangs in the air, a comforting aroma, as bleach is used to kill the Ebola virus on surfaces, protective equipment and on skin.

Look for more updates from the Advance Team in Liberia soon!

 

Donate now to sustain OPERATION EBOLA and help save lives in West Africa.

Donate Now!

 

 

 

 

 

Advance Team Departs for Liberia in Fight Against Ebola

Three members of Heart to Heart International’s Advance Team left from Kansas City International airport Sunday, September 21, 2014, and will be joined by a 4th member in New York before flying to Liberia by way of Morocco.

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It’ll be a long journey to get to Liberia’s capital city of Monrovia as air carriers have been restricting or cancelling flights to the country due to the Ebola Outbreak.  The team is also loaded down with supplies.  They’re carrying six extra-large bags full of medicine and personal protective equipment (PPE) for the team’s use in the Ebola hot zone.

Watch local Kansas City news coverage of Advance Team departure

 

Advance Team

Three of four Advance Team members (l to r): Dr. Gary Morsch, Julie Hefner, Dan Neal

 

The team’s goal is to pave the way for HHI to deploy teams of volunteer doctors and nurses in the coming weeks and months into West Africa.  Besides the dire need for medical and protective supplies to fight the virus and treat Ebola patients, there is a desperate need to have more medical providers, nurses and health workers on the ground to provide primary care and more.

Advance Team members:

Dr. Gary Morsch, Founder, HHI
Dan Neal, Director of Global Operations, HHI
Julie Hefner, International Liaison Officer, HHI
Sue Mangicaro, RN – Clinical Affairs Director, Welch Allyn

The HHI Advance Team will be in Liberia for a little more than a week working with partners on the ground like the International Medical Corps, the World Health Organization (WHO) and local government officials to coordinate a broader response, and to assess medical supply needs and determine ways to meet and expand the number of shipments.

See emergency Ebola relief supplies leave HHI’s Global Distribution Center

Because of the Ebola epidemic the limited healthcare system in the affected countries is collapsing creating a Crisis within the Crisis.  This is where Heart to Heart International can do a lot of good, by drawing on the experience and bravery of our medical volunteers to help provide this care.

Donate now to sustain OPERATION EBOLA and help save lives in West Africa.

Donate Now!

The Experience in Photos

A month and a half ago Heart to Heart celebrated its 20th Anniversary in awesome fashion with “The Experience”.
Two days later we mobilized to respond to Hurricane Sandy, and as always the case around here, we’ve been very busy with that and everything else that goes on at HHI.
The point? The photos from that wonderful night in late October haven’t been released.  Until now…

We’ve uploaded the best photos – 118 pics! – from The Experience onto HHI’s Flickr page.  Meaning you can view the photos in a slideshow (best viewed with high-speed connection), or scan through them individually.  You can also download the photos that you like in varying sizes.

For those who attended the night, this will take you back and refresh your memories.  For those who couldn’t make it, these photos will give you a glimpse of the evening… a night of Experience, Engagement & Entertainment. And great food!

DW HHI

Thoughts from Hurricane Sandy

Heart to Heart International has now shifted into Phase II of our Hurricane Sandy response in the Northeast. While we continue to work with partners to coordinate aid deliveries, our Mobile Medical Unit has now returned to HQ after three weeks of service to New York residents affected by the Superstorm.
The MMU was already rolling before Sandy made landfall, and once it had arrived in Long Island, it was plugged into the overall relief effort, first being used at Red Cross shelters housing Southshore evacuees.
For a week and a half, volunteer doctors, nurses and medics made the MMU their office away from office, seeing dozens of patients for various ailments.
Then, once the shelters began to consolidate, the Unit was placed at a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center in Far Rockaway, Queens, the scene of much devastation, and for another week and a half was used by more medical personnel to treat area residents.
I asked some of the med staff and Heart to Heart volunteers to jot down some of their thoughts as they worked with HHI just days after the storm. A few excerpts follow.
DW HHI


 

 

There are so many people in need… Everything from newborn babies, sore throats, ordering meds for patients who need their prescriptions, narcotic withdrawal, staple removal, Coumadin level checks… just at the Manhasset shelter. I had scribbled on a piece of paper a list of meds I wanted, epi pen, Benadryl, Advil, Tylenol. The next morning I was told my van had arrived with my supplies. I walked outside expecting a box (I was so excited) and could not believe what I saw. It was the Heart to Heart Mobile Medical Unit! Two stretchers, portable monitors, EKG machine, a wall full of meds, a list of meds I wanted to order and they arrived the next day! THIS ORGANIZATION IS AMAZING!!! Stop by Manhasset High and check it out!!!
– Lisa Lynch, CRNA – Nassau Co Medical Reserve Corps

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I am a volunteer for the Medical Reserve Corps providing medical care for those affected by Hurricane Sandy. Being able to volunteer my time has been such an incredible experience. Some of these people have lost everything and to be able to give them hope for the future is so rewarding. I am so thankful… Heart to Heart International is available for the community. I don’t know where these people would be without them.
The first day I was here we did not have the Heart to Heart International Mobile Medical Unit so we had to make due with what we had. I was able to see what a difference having the clinic made to the quality of medical care that the patients who needed our help received. The patients were now able to be supplied with medications and check up for those with Diabetes and Hypertension. We were able to give them the care that they deserve.
Jessica Stein PA-C, Family Practice and Pediatric Urgent Care

It has been a remarkable experience, and a great pleasure, to provide assistance to Long Island area residents affected by Sandy. I volunteer with Heart to Heart International and am part of the team that arrived… with the Mobil Medical Unit filled with medical supplies and care kits for those in need. The Red Cross medical teams that we have partnered with have been so grateful for the meds we had on board and immediately available; it was like watching little kids on Christmas morning when they first came aboard the MMU.
Helping these great volunteers utilize the MMU and serve so many in need in these first few days following the storm has been a real blessing for me. We have provided a unique place for the medical personnel to examine, treat and bring peace of mind to the residents of the shelter, and I am proud to say I was able to be a tiny part of that kindness.
– Phil Meiers, Heart to Heart International, volunteer MMU driver

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On Monday October 29, Hurricane Sandy made landfall. Our community of Manhasset, New York was badly affected. On Tuesday the American Red Cross set up a shelter at our local high school. The shelter held 300 clients. The outpouring of relief help has been overwhelming! From the incredible staff at Heart to Heart – Dan, Warren, and Phil – who with their compassion, stamina and huge hearts made such a difference in the lives of so many.
We are all so blessed for what we have and for the generosity of so many angels.
– Kathleen, RN

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Tears came to my eyes when I saw the enthusiastic energy of Heart to Heart International as they came rolling up with their level 2 trauma facility to this shelter. Clients didn’t want to go to an ER for treatment because they didn’t want to be separated from each other, after losing their homes and all their belongings, they were willing to risk having no medical care to stay with their families.

With Heart to Heart International, it was like, if the client wouldn’t go to the medical mountain the medical mountain came to them. As days went by I saw smiles come to theses beautiful displaced faces of our clients as they started to feel medically better and knew that there were people out there that truly cared about them. When the parents felt better – the children felt better and the energy of hope was resurrected.
Dan, Warren and Phil, with Heart to Heart, came from Kansas City to New York… and brought the gift of humanity, hope, caring and medical security… these guys are our angels. We could never have done what we did without them. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! And may you forever be blessed with a trail of sunshine wherever you go!
– Dr. Valerie Mokides, pediatrician

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The Heart to Heart Experience…

No Ballrooms. No Ball Gowns.

For our 20th Anniversary, Heart to Heart is creating The Experience, an immersion into the world where Heart to Heart works and is making a difference daily in the lives of people in need.

We’re doing things differently.

Instead of hosting a formal gala event (which are always a great time!), this year we’re doing something more.  We’re creating The Heart to Heart Experience.

It’ll be held inside our Global Distribution Center, the hub of our logistics operations, and will be unlike anything we’ve done before, and likely attendees haven’t experienced either.  Attendees will enjoy hands-on, interactive scenarios along with opportunities to network, enjoy some world cuisine, catch up with friends and partners, and provide continuing support for Heart to Heart as we move into the next 20 years of operation.

There will be plenty more information to come…  For now, please check out The Heart to Heart Experience to read more and to purchase your tickets!

We’ll see you there!

DW HHI

Heart to Heart Responds in Haiti

Photo credit: Reuters

New Photos below, just arrived from the town of Belle Anse, on Haiti’s southern coast.  Heart to Heart supports community clinics in the area…

Tropical Storm Isaac has moved on from Haiti, but its effects may long be felt.

Haiti is a country where a large section of the population hangs in the balance.  Their future dictated, many times, by the forces of nature: an earthquake, a tropical cyclone…

Fortunately, Isaac did not do great damage to most of the country, however in the South and in the Southeast he did bring near-hurricane strength winds and torrential rains.  Residents suffered the loss of homes (shelters), their livelihoods in the form of crops, and are now at risk of diseases like cholera rearing their ugly heads once again.

Heart to Heart is uniquely positioned as the lead NGO in the remote and mountainous Southeast District to respond to the needs of residents.  And we are doing just that – Responding!

Currently, Heart to Heart is coordinating with in-country partners to deliver relief supplies, in a replay of the supply chain that helped to stem the outbreak of cholera in this same area in 2010/2011.  And like then, it is imperative that these supplies reach these remote communities.

“There are no other relief groups in those mountains, we’re it,” said Heart to Heart’s Dir. of Operations in Haiti Josh Jakobitz. “And is always the case with diseases like cholera and natural disasters like Isaac, speed is of the essence. If Heart to Heart is able to respond, people live.”

Speed is of the essence.  So is your support.

Note:  Heart to Heart International is also following Isaac’s movement as it pushes into the Gulf of Mexico.  HHI is planning a mobilization to the Gulf Coast, as needed, possibly consisting of humanitarian relief supplies, medical aid and our Mobile Medical Unit.

DW HHI

Heart to Heart CEO on TS Isaac

Here at Heart to Heart we are keeping a watchful eye on Tropical Storm Isaac.  It continues to bear down on Haiti, with its sights set on the Gulf Coast.
Below is a letter, just sent to donors and supporters, from HHI’s CEO Andre Butler as we prepare to mobilize.

DW HHI

Dear Friends,

As of this writing, a tropical cyclone is gathering strength in the Caribbean and churning toward Haiti and eventually the U.S.’s Gulf Coast. The storm is named Isaac, and within hours we will know what damage the storm will bring to Haiti.

We at Heart to Heart International are following these weather developments very closely as we have friends, family and coworkers in Haiti right now in the path of this storm, along with the thousands of Haitians we serve.

Our Haiti staff will ride out this storm. They have made plans and storm preparations, as they continue to oversee the operations of the 12 community clinics we partner with and continue to support with volunteers and with medical aid.
These clinics are found across Haiti: in the capital of Port-au-Prince, in the Leogane area and in the very rural and mountainous SE District. All of these areas are in the path of Isaac and could very well be affected by the storm’s high winds, torrential rain and subsequent flooding.

From there, Isaac has set his sights on the Florida Keys, and then the Gulf Coast of Florida and Alabama. The storm is predicted to become a hurricane by the time it reaches the mainland.

We are preparing to mobilize the assets we have, including the Mobile Medical Unit, medical aid, volunteers and Heart to Heart Care Kits, to respond as needed.

Our mission in Haiti, our mission in the U.S., is to improve health and to broaden access to healthcare. Isaac may try to disrupt that. But with your continued support and assistance we won’t let it.

Please give now so that we may respond in the wake of Isaac, in both Haiti and the U.S., and prepare for the storms to come.

Sincerely,
Andre Butler
CEO – Heart to Heart International

 

 

 

Here’s how to make a difference now, to help us prepare to respond:

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HHI To Send Medical Aid to South Sudan

courtesy International Medical Corps

While issues plaguing east-central Africa have become a recent hot topic on social media, Heart to Heart International has long been aware of the needs, and has worked, in that part of the world. So has one of our great partners, the International Medical Corps (IMC).

Heart to Heart is currently working with IMC to provide more than one ton of humanitarian medical aid and supplies to support IMC’s continuing efforts in one of the most troubled areas on the globe. That is a lot of needed medicine for an initial shipment!

Here is a brief, even simplistic, synopsis of what is happening in the region:  South Sudan is a new country.  It gained independence in July 2011 following a half-century of warfare between the North and the South, and between and involving many other groups. This created vast numbers of refugees.  Independence has also brought about a large number of ‘returnees’, people moving into South Sudan. Renewed and continued fighting, political/economic issues, border clashes, along with large populations on the move… all of this has created an environment where people are in need.

The International Medical Corps has operated in Sudan & now South Sudan for years and is currently serving hundreds of thousands of refugees, returnees and other vulnerable populations in both rural and urban areas, working to improve not just primary medical care, but long-term health as well.

We here at Heart to Heart are proud to partner with such a fine group that mirrors our own mission to improve global health.

DW HHI

Images Of Henryville

These photos from Henryville were taken during Heart to Heart’s nearly week-long operation in southern Indiana providing medical aid with our Mobile Medical Unit and distributing Care Kits to residents in the region.

The images are from downtown where the tornado did the most harm.  The damage was great, but the restoration is well underway due to the resolve of the local community.  And we at Heart to Heart want to thank the residents of Henryville and surrounding communities for letting us serve.

 

DW HHI