Project Medishare Transitions Relief Efforts in Haiti to Rehabilitation

Partnered with the University of Miami Global Institute, Project
Medishare has been on the ground in Haiti for more than 15 years engaging in
health and developmental projects. Project Medishare’s commitment to
medical infrastructure was never more on display than in the hours following
the devastating 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti on Jan. 12. According to its
website, less than 24 hours after the initial earthquake, Project Medishare set
up a field-trauma hospital on the grounds of the Port-au-Prince Airport at the
request of Haitian president Rene Preval and the Haitian Ministry of Health.

Adam Finnieston, CPO, LPO, chief prosthetist/orthotist for Arthur
Finnieston Prosthetics and Orthotics, was watching the news at his home in
Miami when he called Robert S. Gailey Jr., PhD, PT, University of Miami Leonard
M. Miller School of Medicine, assistant professor, to volunteer his services.
Within 2 days he was on the 700-mile flight to Haiti, approximately 2 weeks
after the earthquake struck.

“You leave Miami International Airport and it’s basically an
hour-and-half flight and then you are in Port-au-Prince,” Finnieston
explained to O&P Business News. “It seems like a
continent away but it really is close to home. That was surprising to me. I am
so close to home, but the situation is so dire. Living in the United States and
then going to a situation like that, it was enlightening, shocking and moving
all at the same time.”

In the 4 months since the earthquake, Finnieston has traveled to Haiti
three times and is scheduled for his fourth trip this weekend. He and Gailey
have been put in charge of developing and assembling a sustainable prosthetic
facility in Haiti. The ultimate goal is to develop a full prosthetic and
rehabilitation facility complete with training for local inhabitants of Haiti
so they can sustain the facility themselves. Finnieston was adamant that
medical volunteers were not going anywhere, but explained that it was important
for local residents to be a major part of the facility as well.

“We basically have everything ready to go and we have begun stage
one,” Finnieston said. “We have gone down there, fit some patients
and made sure that all of our systems are operating properly. We are also
troubleshooting any future problems we may have. That is where we are right

Currently, Finnieston and his colleagues are working in tents like most
medical volunteers, but he is confident that Project Medishare will get a
prosthetic facility up and running.

“It seems like one thing gets better and then something else gets
worse,” Finnieston said. “Basic necessities seem to be better, but
there are other problems that are on the horizon. The rain is coming and that
is of great concern to us because it is monsoon season down there.”

Re-amputations have been performed due to complications. However,
Finnieston insisted that considering the dire circumstances, the surgeries
performed have been good.

“You have no idea who did it and where and what the circumstances
were under,” Finnieston explained. “[Surgeries] could have performed
by the Israelis, the French or the Americans or whoever. But overall, the
trauma teams have done a good job.”

Complicated politics and challenging logistics make Finnieston and
Project Medishare’s job difficult at times; however, Project
Medishare’s experiences with Haiti gave them a tremendous advantage

“They understand the country. That cannot be overstated,”
Finnieston said. “For a newbie to go into Haiti and try to accomplish
anything quickly is a challenge. It is a challenging environment to be

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