Healthcare & History in the Heartland

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Recently, Heart to Heart traveled to the edge of the Great Plains with the University of Kansas Medical Center to operate a health fair during the annual Emancipation Celebration in the historic town of Nicodemus, Kansas.

The whole town of Nicodemus is one of those quintessential American tales of hardship and hard work, westward expansion, newly-found freedom and finding a place to call one’s own and holding onto it.

Nicodemus was settled as a planned town in 1877, 12 years after the US Civil War during the Reconstruction era, by mostly former slaves from Kentucky and Tennessee.  At its peak the town boasted around 800 townsfolk.  Residents had petitioned for the Union Pacific Railroad to lay tracks trough the town, but the railroad dashed those hopes, bypassed the settlement and its long slow decline began.  However, Nicodemus is a National Historic Site, and is the oldest and only remaining all Black Town west of the Mississippi. A couple of dozen people still reside there.

Every year since it’s founding, the town holds an Emancipation Celebration during the last weekend of July to commemorate the end to slavery, the freedmen and women who founded the town and the town’s heritage.  This is a “coming home” celebration, as many descendents from across the nation come home to visit with friends and relatives while commemorating the rich history of Nicodemus.

It’s a purely small town Americana affair with a parade and talent show, even a pancake breakfast made from wheat grown in nearby fields.


But the celebration isn’t just about history, but the future too. A healthy future. And that’s what brought Heart to Heart International out here to work in partnership with KU-MED.

ayesOWtwSxi7JuMpfrIE4A_thumb_172acDuring last years Celebration’s health fair, 19 medical students and 4 HHI volunteers worked out of our Mobile Medical Unit to conduct laboratory tests, health screenings and physicals for 50 people.

 

Every year Heart to Heart is honored to have been a part of both the past and the present of this rich historic community and to have broadened access to healthcare out on the wide open Plains.


 

Pictures


Into the Mountains: Battling Cholera in Haiti

intro screengrabFor several months, Heart to Heart International (HHI) has led an anti-cholera campaign in the remote mountains of southeast Haiti, centered around the village of Cascade Pichon.

The video below gives an overview of the campaign and showcases how HHI is working to get in front of any new cholera outbreaks in the region, by not just bringing in needed aid supplies, but by hiking up into the mountains to educate the populace from one remote village to the next. The video also shows how local residents are stepping up to volunteer with HHI to help their own communities fight the scourge of cholera.

Education is key in battling cholera in Haiti…

To help fund these anti-cholera campaigns and other efforts to create access to healthcare in Haiti, please donate.

And please share this video on places like Facebook and other locations to let others know about our work in Haiti!

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Heart to Heart Responds to Moore Tornado

Moore AppealAs of this writing, Heart to Heart International is on the ground in Moore, Oklahoma, the scene of a devastating EF-4 tornado that has left a path of destruction, death and has torn apart many lives.

Our Response Team is currently working out of our Mobile Medical Unit at a shelter in Moore, plugged into the overall response network, ready to serve the needs of those hurt by this storm. Both HHI staff and volunteers are there making this happen for the people of Moore.

Heart to Heart will also very soon be deploying aid in the form of Care Kits and other supplies to those displaced by the twister.  We will need more Care Kits in our relief pipeline, please help by following the assembly instructions here.

Please DONATE NOW in the ways below, to help relief efforts like the one in Moore.

Thank you!

With your help, we can help the people of Moore, Oklahoma and others who are in need.

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Combating Cholera in Haiti

Cholera Response

This isn’t an easy fight, but it’s one that Heart to Heart International is committed to waging.
As we blogged recently, Cholera has flared in the remote southeast of Haiti around the picturesque area of Cascade Pichon.  Where the outbreak stems from, we’re not sure yet.  But its affect is apparent.
In our survey of the outbreak in this small region we found nearly two dozen people died from cholera and more than 50 contracted it, were treated, and thankfully survived.

cholera bacteriumCholera is relatively new to Haiti, believed to have been introduced for the first time in 2010 in the months following the January earthquake.  It is a bacterial infection of the small intestine that causes a large amount of watery diarrhea.  It causes severe and rapid dehydration, cramps, dry mouth and skin, excessive thirst, lethargy and nausea.
The CDC: The cholera bacterium is usually found in water or food sources that have been contaminated by feces (poop) from a person infected with cholera. Cholera is most likely to be found and spread in places with inadequate water treatment, poor sanitation, and inadequate hygiene.

 

This is where Heart to Heart comes in.  We’ve mobilized a response of not just supplies needed – like oral rehydration salts and hand-washing materials – but our professional Haitian staff consisting of doctors, nurses and public health workers.  The goal:  To treat those affected, to help them recover and to train the local population in cholera prevention.
What follows is a gallery of photos from Heart to Heart’s ongoing response to combat cholera. Click a photo to begin the slideshow.

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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Mapping Sandy Relief Effort

Explore the map above, or here to see the larger map with more info and photos, to see where Heart to Heart’s initial response is bringing aid and relief. Click on the placemarks to see more.

Heart to Heart is still on-scene in Long Island, a week after Superstorm Sandy slammed into the Mid-Atlantic states.  We have been shipping Care Kits & water to several locations in both New Jersey and New York, where partners then distribute the aid to hard-hit areas.

 

 

 

 

We are also in Nassau County, Long Island with our Mobile Medical Unit.  It is serving as a busy ER, at a Red Cross shelter at the Manhasset High School.  Area doctors and nurses continue to rotate through, pulling shifts onboard the MMU.

 

 

 

Responding to Hurricane Sandy…

This is a quick post, to update everyone in the Heart to Heart world on what we’re doing in response to Hurricane Sandy.
The hurricane is over, but the storm continues to churn, affecting so many across a large part of this country.

Currently, supplies, volunteers and HHI staff are converging from three sides, to bring relief and medical aid to those in need along the Eastern Seaboard.

Our Program Director began driving south from New England, where she was attending a conference, as the storm was pounding the Mid-Atlantic.  She’s leading our relief efforts and happened to be near as Sandy threatened.

Yours truly flew to North Carolina to bypass the storm, and is now heading north. And surprisingly, it’s quite cold down here, windy too.  Shows how large of a footprint Sandy has.  Cold clouds still linger.
And volunteers with the Mobile Medical Unit left Kansas City as the storm raged, and is now crossing Pennsylvania after dealing with both rain and snow.

We are communicating with numerous folks involved in the relief effort in the region, from state-level to local partners, and are working with them to determine where Heart to Heart can do the most good upon arrival.

Look for more updates soon here, and on Facebook & Twitter.

DW HHI

A Heart for Humanity

It’s a simple statement, but true.  Without our great partners, we couldn’t do what we do here at Heart to Heart International.

FedEx is one of those partners that makes it possible for us to connect people, and especially resources, to a world in need.  That’s why, as we celebrate our 20th Anniversary, we felt FedEx was more than deserving of the Heart for Humanity Award.

You can read more about how FedEx makes a huge humanitarian impact around the world by clicking here, or the article below.

FedEx will receive the award at The Heart to Heart Experience, October 26, 2012.  There are still tickets available for the evening.  We hope you can join us for the celebration.

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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