BONEL, Haiti (NNS) -- In support of Operation Unified Response, medical professionals from USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) and other Sailors from Navy units in the area organized a treatment facility for Haitians affected by the Jan. 12 earthquake.
The facility, which organizers named Hope Estate Medical Clinic, began operating Jan. 20 in a church near the New Mission compound, an area serving as the landing zone for military personnel and vehicles assisting in the flow of food, supplies and medical equipment in southwest Haiti.
The Hope Estate Medical Clinic medical team, which includes corpsmen and doctors from USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), Beachmasters Two (BMU-2) and other units in the region, provided medical and dental care to more than 150 patients and arranged six medical evacuations (MEDEVACs) to nearby Navy ships.
Most patients seen in the facility were treated for wounds suffered during the earthquake and illnesses associated with inadequate drinking water and sanitation. Carter Hall medical professionals said the clinic, which serves as a central distribution point for medical care and relief supplies near Pandou, is a symbol of hope for the Haitians and the establishment of the medical clinic is the beginning of a significant effort to assist Haitians.
"We are getting a footprint on the ground so that we can get medical care for the people we found in need here," said Lt. Mark Heitzmann, Carter Hall medical officer. "The plan is to use this first model as an example as we move on to the next town."
Sailors staffing the facility said the opportunity to provide assistance was something they welcomed.
"It was a very humbling experience. I got to do a lot of work I normally don't do on the ship," said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class (FMF) Jacob Earl.
Other Sailors stressed the importance of being a part of Operation Unified Response.
"I'm proud of what I did here," added Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Kelby Mays. "It's good to know we're doing something that's making a difference in the lives of the people here."
Although Hope Estate Medical Clinic personnel were able to make a significant impact during the facility's first day of activity, Sailors staffing the clinic said that without an increase in medical presence and aid, Haitian humanitarian issues will worsen.
"Before the disaster occurred there was a definite need here," Carter Hall Dental Officer Lt. Joseph Reardon said. "Now it is multiplied. There's an overwhelming chance of outbreak of infectious dieses and other health problems that are definitely going to worsen without increased intervention."
Carter Hall Corpsman 2nd Class (SW/FMF) Sergio Hernandez said the medical professionals currently staffing the Hope Estate Medical Clinic are dedicated to supporting Operation Unified Response.
"We need to pray for these people," said , "They need food, water, and medical care, and we need to provide it to them."
USS Bataan (LHD 5), along with amphibious dock landing ships USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) and USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) are also providing military support capabilities to civil authorities to help stabilize and improve the situation in Haiti.
Operation Unified Response is a joint U.S. military effort designed to provide provide humanitarian relief and assistance in response to the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck the Caribbean nation.
For more news from USS Carter Hall, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/lsd50/.