A Volunteer Reflects on Friends in Haiti

Guest post by Mary Anne Kramer-Urner, PT

Mary Anne Kramer-Urner, PT, recently spent two weeks at the Hanger Clinic in Deschapelles, Haiti, volunteering with Physicians for Peace alongside her husband and fellow physical therapist, Dave, and the couple’s 13-year-old daughter, Sage. ChildFund awarded Physicians for Peace a $500,000 grant to support the organization’s work in Haiti, providing custom-fitted prosthetics, medical equipment and numerous other services.

Technician Stories
Alex Paul

Three men on a motor bike

In addition to working as a technician, Alex frequently helps with patient transfers.

Alexis a skilled prosthetic technician who takes great care when working on the various sockets and limbs that he is involved with.

He was at the clinic the first time I volunteered there for Physicians for Peace in 2010. He was just learning the trade then. Over the course of year, he’s clearly advanced his skills, and is now much more confident and capable.

On one particular occasion, I remember how he handled a small, delicate socket. He had to smooth the edges on the sander, but needed to be very precise because the socket liner was so small, and the plastic thin. He worked the rim of the liner into the proper shape, taking the time needed to get just what was desired. He obviously wanted to make sure that the patient was comfortable when wearing this very important piece of equipment.

Alex takes great pride in his work, and always makes sure that whatever limb he is responsible for works well. He has a great attitude, and it’s clear that he enjoys working with the patients and therapists, along with prosthetists and other technicians. He is developing into a very skilled clinician, and is an important member of the prosthetic team at the Hanger/HAS clinic.

It’s also clear that he is happy to be able to provide this important healthcare service to the amputees in his country and community.

Elinor “TCho”

woman and man with art

TCho is a promising technician and an artist. Mary Anne displays one of his works, made in honor of Sage, Mary Anne's 13-year-old daughter.

I met TCho last year, just a few weeks after the earthquake. He was one of four prosthetic technicians chosen to learn this important skill at the Hanger/HAS clinic, and he was eager for a chance to learn this new, important skill. And, learn it he did!

While we were in Haiti, TCho was eager to help whenever a prosthetic technician was needed. He listened attentively, observed the patient with me, if needed, and made whatever adjustments were needed to allow the patient to walk better and more comfortably. I appreciated that he didn’t quit until the desired outcome was achieved.

TCho really connected with people, and developed patients’ trust easily as he worked with them. When returning patients came in for adjustments, or when new patients came in to be casted, I could always count on him to help with whatever was needed. He is a stable force in the clinic, and I felt lucky to be able to work with him.

It’s important to continue the prosthetic technician training program as it allows the local people to learn the skills needed to serve the needs of the Haitian amputee community for years to come!

Patient Stories

This patient had had a stroke, right around or during the earthquake, which left him with right hemiplegia and almost no verbal speech. Dave worked with him every day until he finally achieved enough strength and coordination to be able to manage the above knee prosthesis with his hemi side. Quite a feat!

A patient with physical therapist

A stroke patient benefits from intensive physical therapy.

This little guy was about 5 years old. He came into the clinic with a broken heel component. Once his foot was fixed, he just trotted off, kicking the soccer ball.

boy on ball

A young boy gets needed PT.

These young men had above the knee amputations. Both of them were about 18 years old, and both were very sweet.

Two boys with girl volunteer

Sage gets to know the teens at the clinic where her parents are volunteering.

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