O&P Assembles to Help Haiti

Rob Kistenberg, MPH, CP, LP, FAAOP
Rob Kistenberg

CHICAGO — The O&P profession is filled with individuals who want to help others, and this was evident in the number of people who gathered last night to support Haiti at The American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists Annual Meeting and Scientific Symposium, here.

Since Haiti’s magnitude 7.0 earthquake on Jan. 12, there has been an outpouring of support from the O&P community, but the smartest way to help the Haitian people is by coordinating all of the efforts, members of the Haiti panel said.

First, monetary donations from groups or from individuals are always accepted, and welcome, Rob Kistenberg, MPH, CP, LP, FAAOP, chairman of the U.S. National Member Society of the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics, said.

O&P practitioners also may donate wound care supplies, compression garments and prosthetic componentry. Many organizations are collecting these as donations to The Prosthetic & Orthotic Component Clearinghouse, which organizes the supplies before sending to Haiti.

Several organizations have begun lists of individuals interested in traveling to Haiti, so find a list and sign up before planning a trip to the country, Kistenberg said.

Another important piece of advice the panel offered was that those planning to volunteer in Haiti should do research before going to a Third World country, including receiving the proper vaccinations and cultural awareness training.

Al Ingersoll, BA, CP, a volunteer on the Healing Hands for Haiti International Foundation board of directors, was asked to head the creation of a rehab network in Haiti, and will move to the country for at least 1 year to help the Haitian government with O&P education and implementation. He said he hopes many others from North America will join in the effort.

“There’s an opportunity to see what other parts of the world do for prosthetics and orthotics,” Ingersoll said. “I think it would be valuable to rotate through and broaden your horizons in Haiti.”

As emotional as this journey will be, the panel emphasized that the O&P practitioner’s job is to make patients complete again — Haiti will be the ultimate patient.

To read more about the efforts in Haiti, see the March issue of O&P Business News.

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“I’m very proud of the coordination efforts for the various organizations to work together, because that’s something that’s not always seen. I’ve been involved in other earthquake responses where there are a lot of efforts going out, but everybody works close to their chest and they don’t talk to each other and you have programs that are duplicating services. But in this one, I think in more than in any other response I’ve ever seen, there’s really an effort to say, ‘What are you doing and where are you doing it, so we can really maximize our efforts.’”

— Jon Batzdorff, CPO
Founder and president, PROSTHETIKA

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