1. Millender, Eugenia I. MS, RN, CCRN

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Nothing could have prepared me, an RN with military and critical care nursing experience, for what I experienced in Haiti. With members of my team, a native Haitian nurse who lives in Florida and two physicians from Health4Haiti, I flew from West Palm Beach to Port-au-Prince and hit the ground running. For almost one week we provided care, from assisting at births to giving palliative care to the dying to providing emotional support to the community.

Figure. The author p... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. The author provides wound care to a woman in leg traction made from bricks from collapsed buildings. Photograph by Marie Delisma, RN.

We allocated resources to the sickest, and because there were no laboratories to assess types of infections, we visually assessed wounds, looking at color and smelling the drainage. We chose from among the available antibiotics. We made IV pulls from tree branches and created traction with bricks from the collapsed houses.


Supplies and food were scarce. We took water breaks to stave off dehydration and slept when we could in sleeping bags in a parking lot next to the damaged hospital. To make up for the lack of personnel, we trained healthy community members to change IV bags, empty catheters, and keep track of times to give antibiotics, change dressings, and feed patients-primarily children without families.


Although I was called upon to carry out varied nursing specialty roles, I was foremost a patient advocate who answered the call to help. A piece of my heart remains in Haiti and calls out to other nurses to be socially active either in Haiti or at home.


Eugenia I. Millender, MS, RN, CCRN