Thursday, December 18, 2014
Now that I have recovered the password after much hassle I hope to commit to catching up and try to update on a more regular basis Tom
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Within those bags were the contributing pieces of the new state-of-the-art Dental School - manikin heads, a Nomad x-ray unit, networked computers, compressors and much more. Dr. Suzette Stines and Dr. Sammy Prophete greeted us with big smiles and hugs when we arrived at the Haitian Faculte d`Odontologie. They had been busy with a dedicated group of workers putting a fresh coat of paint on the walls of the dental clinic and lab. Dr. Suzette had commandeered 25 durable dental chairs from NYU that she had professionally reupholstered through a friend of hers in Haiti. As she says in her Facebook post, "It`s looking more like North Carolina evey day. We were pleasantly surprised and excited at the progress they have made since our last visit. Expect some amazing pictures soon by our professional photographer ,Tom B., from DEXIS."
We reconnected with Nadia and Frantz who safely drove us through ferocious traffic to Fahima and Joe`s house at the US Embassy. We dined on a lovely dinner prepared by Fahima and carried on provocative and insightful conversation until our eyes could not stay open any more.
Today, the dental crew carries on their installation of the delivered goods at the dental school, while Carol delivers vaccines to Gaetan, and connects with local medical projects. The dental school is planning an Open House for Friday, with a big celebration at the end of the day.
All is good in our Haiti world right now.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Loni always goes to the heart of the matter at some point in the interview by asking, "What would you like people to do after they read this article? What would you like the reader to come away with?"
The first action is to keep Haiti in your thoughts, prayers, and donating money. International Medical Alliance is still feeding 500 orphaned children each day, and in February, we will be returning to do clinics that will see thousands of people in those two weeks. We will be giving out a six month supply of medication to the patients. That all requires funds.
Forget all the stories about how some aid is not spent, or spent poorly. I can assure you with total certainty that www.imaonline.org spends every penny you give where it is needed. Everyone who goes pays their own way and contributes so that that their experience is not paid for with much needed funds.
There are no paid staff or offices to support. The money you all donated just after the quake went from your hands to mine and then directly (many times even before it arrived in the mail) for food, diesel fuel and items that without all the medical care in the world, would not have kept people alive during those first crucial days.
What do we need from you? First, come join us in helping support the dental school in Haiti with your time and energy. We have regular conference calls every other Sunday night with personnel from the ADA's Global Outreach staff and dentists in the US, Canada, Haiti, and as far away as Germany.
Secondly, the school has almost nothing to teach with - no text books from this century. I know you have not touched that operative dentistry, etc. book on your shelf since sophomore year in dental school. So here is what you do - go buy a nice plant for that shelf - and bring your books and usable oral surgery instruments (you know the ones you will never use again since you bought those expensive
For Ritters, mission to help Haiti continues a year later
On anniversary of earthquake, couple planning next trip
By Loni Ingraham
"Money is hard to spend; you can't just go to the hardware store and buy drywall," said Dr. Tom Ritter, a dentist with a Ruxton practice. "There is no hardware store."
The need for help is as acute today as it was a year ago.
Currently, Haiti is threatened by an outbreak of cholera. The epidemic that began in October has been "a real eye-opener," said his wife, Dr. Carol Ritter, a Greater Baltimore Medical Center gynecologist and obstetrician.
The Ritters were among health care providers who came to the aid of the Haitian people soon after the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake, and have made two subsequent trips to Haiti. They are planning a fourth next month.
It is understandable that people who are providing aid to Haiti feel good about what they are doing -- and good about themselves.
"But it doesn't necessarily always help Haiti," Carol Ritter said. "And sometimes it does deadly harm."
Take the cholera outbreak, for instance. Testing has revealed the strain that produced the cholera was South Asian.
The consensus in the news is that U.N. troops introduced cholera to Haiti when Nepalese forces dumped sewage from outhouses at their base into the Artibonite River, from which some of the affected people drank.
Three thousand people have died, even though cholera is a preventable disease treated by simple, inexpensive means, such as rehydration salts and IV's, according to Tom Ritter.
As the earthquake anniversary is marked, the Ritters are focusing on individual projects as well as trying to raise money and supplies for Haiti.
Tom Ritter has been working with the dental school, trying to keep it open. Eighty percent of government buildings in Port-au-Prince were destroyed. The dental school was built to withstand earthquakes -- and two government departments have taken over parts of it.
"We want to keep it open so another part of the government won't conscript it," he said.
But the school has little; a small supply of outdated textbooks and virtually no tools for teaching.
"We are stepping up our efforts to keep it functioning," he said, noting he needs practical donations such as textbooks and basics such as forceps to remove teeth.
And money, always money.
Carol Ritter has been working on a Pap smear project. In Haiti, there is no pathology lab yet, so she goes off into the mountain and outlying areas and brings specimens back to Baltimore, where Dr. Shahla Moshiri has volunteered to run tests in the Cockeysville pathology lab she runs.
The tests are crucial. The human papillomavirus (HPV) virus that has been known to cause cancer is different in Haiti and not covered by the current vaccine.
"I see it in young Haitian women and it is so aggressive," she said. "I know it will cross the ocean some day."
Lessons learned in Haiti
The couple's trips to Haiti and their work with the Haitian people have left them with several impressions and observations. Carol's observations include:
* The people she works with are the Haitian middle class -- teachers, drivers, interpreters. There are not that many of them, she said.
* The women in Haiti keep the country going because they are caregivers to so many.
* Haitians are a religious people, and are primarily Catholic, she said. But when people are desperate and don't have access to medical care, they sometimes turn to individuals who call themselves priests, but practice voodoo.
"I don't claim to understand," she said. "I'm just aware of it every time we go down there."
* Groups have improved their ability to provide aid. The International Medical Alliance provides Haiti-centered aid, he said.
* Haiti needs money, not visitors -- unless they have special tasks to perform. The infrastructure can barely support the people who are there. Between U.N. forces, Catholic Relief Services and other organizations, the competition for housing is brutal.
* Costs have gone through the roof, he said. Airfare is easily twice what it used to be, translators charge twice what they used to and it would cost $300,000 to buy an apartment in Port-au-Prince -- and it wouldn't be a nice one, he said.
Haitians need money for water and for feeding kids -- just rice and beans.
Tom Ritter was pleasantly surprised when his staff told him one of his patients had made a donation for Haiti that she had left in an envelope for him.
He was shocked when he discovered it was for $10,000.
"That money will go a long way," he said.
Both Ritters are happy to report that the baby born by their Haitian interpreter, Natalie Amedee, at GBMC last January after a high- risk pregnancy, is doing very well.
"His name is Gaetan Thomas Amedee," Carol said. "He's a chubby little thing."
"We'll see him during our February trip," Tom said. "He doesn't like us because when we show up we give him injections."
The Ritters plan to continue their work in Haiti.
"You get up in the morning and do what you can and try not to make mistakes," Tom Ritter said. "You meet such beautiful people along the way. The Haitians are the most beautiful people I have ever met. They are very appreciative of everything we do."
Follow the Ritters through their blog, www.carolandtominhaiti.com, and find out where how to make a donation.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
These pictures are of my two assistants, Debbie Streeter and Karen Cashen who were responsible for helping to gather the teaching aids and many other items requested by the dental school in Haiti. The shipment included an emergency kit, models and manikins for practicing dentistry, root canal practice blocks and a host of other teaching tools .
Other victories this month included:
- The installation of 20 dental chairs at the school that were donated by NYU.
-A "memorandum of agreement" is in the process of being signed between the University of Maryland Dental School and the Haitian Dental School. This document, once signed, will allow for important exchanges between the two schools.
- Friends of Haiti will be bringing dental students on their mission to the mountains around Grand Boulage, Haiti.
-Tom attended the ADA Symposium on Overseas Volunteers and made all kinds of head way on many fronts.
- Karen Cashen and I toured the old dental school next to the new school and discovered a treasure trove of items that if moved to Haiti, would prove invaluable.
... and a host of other good things including the possibility of doing a documentary to help raise funds for the ADA Adopt-a-Dentist program.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
My name is Doug Copp. I am the Rescue Chief and Disaster Manager of the American Rescue Team International (ARTI), the world's most experienced rescue team. The information in this article will save lives in an earthquake. I have crawled inside 875 collapsed buildings, worked with rescue teams from 60 countries, founded rescue teams in several countries, and I am a member of many rescue teams from many countries... I was the United Nations expert in Disaster Mitigation for two years. I have worked at every major disaster in the world since 1985, except for simultaneous disasters.
Saturday, September 4, 2010
A good time was had by all on the New Orleans trip. The group that went down included Carol and I, three of my staff, Mary and my two sons Austin and Eric. Carol did women's health. Kay played one of the three most overworked hygienists ever. Eric took up his usual post in instrument cleaning. Austin ran the digital x-ray. Karen, Debbie and Debbie's good friend Mary all assisted multiple dentists.
The Remote Area medical group treated hundreds of grateful patients. RAM's equipment and operations were first class compared to any working conditions we have ever had in Haiti or elsewhere. They had 20 chairs all with suction and operative units. It was a treat to be able to fix a few teeth instead of just extracting everything.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Remote Area Medical® has scheduled a free medical, dental and vision expedition to Louisiana. This will be a two prong clinic, the Oil Spill Coastline of Plaquemines Parish and Orleans Parish. We have a great need for doctors,nurses, dentists, hygienists and dental assistants at both locations.
The Plaquemines Parish location is also set. It is about 45 minutes south of New Orleans. There is really limited lodging there so we have arranged another civic center to be available and we are going to house volunteers there. There will be cots available and bathroom/shower facilities. We also hope to set up some type of shuttle services between the lodging areas and the clinics.
The airport has a shuttle to the downtown hotels, but not south to Plaquemines Parish. The cost of all transportation is the responsibility of the volunteer.
The most important dates of attendance are Friday, August 27th to Sunday, August 29th. If you want to attend set up on Thursday and tear down on Monday that is great, otherwise arriving sometime Thursday and departing late on Sunday or early Monday is fine. We are happy for any part of this you can make work out.
We need your help to make this two part clinic a success. Please email email@example.com or call 865-579-1530, if you need any assistance.
Remote Area Medical
n July 16th, 2010, the deans of the Haitian Dental School, Dr. Sam Prophete and Dr. Denis met with me at the school to discuss how our group might be of service to them and to assess what changes are already underway. I also had the opportunity to meet and spend time with some fifth and sixth year students.
please Go to Monday, May 24, 2010 blog post to see rest of report.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
I must be clear from the outset that I make only observations, not to be taken as criticisms. I believe the fact that the school is up and running so well under these post-quake conditions is nothing short of miraculous. These are my findings:
Coordination and Transparency
These are two issues we discussed for some time, and we reached the following conclusions:
Coordination of efforts to improve and promote dental education in Haiti should be handled by The Oral Health of Haiti Coalition, formed by the Pan American Health and Education Foundation, for issues of a more global nature.
My thoughts were to create an internet portal or even a blog where the world community can come together and interact, exchanging information about what is being done specifically for the Haitian Dental School. This will avoid duplication, will prioritize efforts and will promote transparency and coordination.
Transparency seems to be the trend in relief funds management today. We discussed that issue, and the deans were more than happy to share their accounting methods as well as to generate any of their reports for analysis. It was thought that an accounting entity could be brought in to coordinate which computer accounting program would be best for the school, and to what standards would be used to ensure transparency in the distribution of funds.
We also discussed the creation of a completely separate fund, which would be accessed by the deans for emergency needs or very specific projects.
The chief request has been and continues to be educational materials. The following is a list of needs that has yet to be satisfied in any appreciable way since my last report:
LCD Projectors – There is only one projector for the entire school.
Typodonts – Used to practice cavity preparations and root canals.
Practice blocks for endodontics.
Manikins – My assistant Debbie has procured donations of two dental manikins valued at $1,500 each. We have sent out inquiries to the University of Maryland School of Dentistry as to where the manikins and typodonts were disposed of from the old school facility.
Books – The library was locked and was without a librarian since the quake, as she is recovering from a leg amputation. The library has no computerized indexing and lacked sufficient up-to-date volumes, but the students nonetheless used it to its full potential. Here, one possible solution would be a book drive in the States, or better yet from a French speaking country, for a uniform set of textbooks that could be made available to the students.
I believe the more important and more easily attainable solution would be to connect the school up to the internet and provide student access to computers in addition to online dental libraries and journals. The school had this capability in the past. There was a dish on the roof with a security cage and a room dedicated to computers, all of which was out of date and nonfunctional.
With little effort and minimal cost, I believe the school could be fully WiFi’ed, preferably with Apple computer products, as computer viruses are a large problem in Haiti. This could be achieved if funds could be made available to maintain the internet connection service. This connectivity would bring immediate improvements to dental education in Haiti.
Power Point lectures and educational materials - (again, preferably in French) enough to teach all six years of dental education - could now be gathered and stored on a large thumb drive!
It is my firm belief that there is an abundance of unused dental education materials in the States that could be brought in to Haiti, to eliminate Haiti’s lack of such materials. The Association of Dental Education (ADEE) in Europe and/or The American Association of Dental Educators (AADE) would be logical places to start this appeal and to follow it through.
The Mechanical Room
The mechanical room was undergoing some compressor repairs. The staff had just finished changing out a large capacity compressor for what appeared to be a different one with insufficient capacity. There were two larger compressors, and one of those had been almost completely scavenged for spare parts. I believe the other was in need of a coolant pump. My best guess is that they need the capacity to run more than 30 dental units and 20-25 lab handpiece units. The school only has five air driven laboratory units with need of twenty more. New York University was to supply dental chairs to replace the aging ones.
As Tobias mentioned in his report, there is no central suction for any of the units. The one single unit suction appeared to be inoperable.
Possible solutions would be to have engineers or dental lab technicians make a thorough review of the school’s future and current needs, and determine if their larger compressors can be brought back online. The plumbing and compressor capacity needs to deliver adequate suction to each dental unit. Perhaps the UN or engineers from other countries could be brought in to repair or assess the situation. The dental schools in the Dominican Republic could also be asked to send technicians.
The supply room seemed to suffer from lack of shelving in order to conduct a proper inventory. A problem that we have seen in many medical facilities throughout the developing world is the inability or knowledge of what to save and what to discard as either obsolete or unfixable, under the best of conditions.
From our warehouse in Jimani, Dominican Republic, I was able to bring in about 5,000 doses of antibiotics. From the States, I brought in approximately 2,500 doses of local anesthesia and needles, along with 150 pounds of assorted supplies and two ultrasonic scalers.
My assistant has been able to obtain a new donated emergency kit for the school and is working on acquiring accessories for the existing portable oxygen cart. We will need to know what type of oxygen bottles are used so we can find the correct connections for the hoses.
Some of these immediate needs could be purchased in the future with the institution of the aforementioned emergency fund. The limited supplies and funds that the International Medical Alliance (IMA) helped us deliver in February seemed to make a significant contribution toward the continued function just after the quake. It has been our goal to be flexible and to meet the requested supply needs of the school in a timely fashion.
One of the two sterilizers that we had shipped through MedShare in their first container after the quake was there, but appeared not to be in use. The school was still using dry heat sterilization. From the provisions brought with us from the States, we supplied some sterilization pouches with indicators on them. It would be beneficial to use these to determine if their current methods of sterilization are working.
Infection control improvement is an area of great importance, and would be a Herculean task for any one person. My thinking is that before any visiting faculty or student exchanges could take place, this issue needs to be addressed.
A possible solution is to appoint some member of the staff or faculty to take responsibility for overall infection control implementation and to educate the remaining faculty or staff. That person could then be paired with their counterpoint in one or more US dental schools.
The issue of infection control issues is closely linked to the lack of infection control materials, such as sterilization pouches, barriers, paper products, distilled water, more sterilizers, cold sterilants and surface disinfectants.
Things That Need Follow-Ups
New York University’s equipment donation or transport and installation.
Commitments from Sullivan Schein, the ADA and Health Volunteers Overseas – what are they doing to follow up on their promises of aid? The deans are very discouraged.
Dental laboratory involvement – The students I saw had no way to place dowel pins in crown and bridge models or to bake porcelain onto metal.
Students expressed desire to interact and exchange with other students internationally. I met with some of them, and I believe that every effort is being made on the school’s behalf to provide a quality dental education. The students should be included in the process. They, as children of the internet, Facebook and other social media, may be able to help us in ways we old-timers could ever begin to comprehend.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Haiti, six months later, is a continued lesson in extremes. Living side by side are the rich and poor, sick and healthy, living and dead. The frailty of life is so close to the surface of everyday living that it almost becomes invisible to the eye. Tent cities precariously appear everywhere as an immutable way of living. It scared me when even I passed them without seeing them in the midst of a bustling work day. Staying one night at the Plaza in Port au Prince was a surreal experience. An old Holiday Inn that easily withstood the 7.0 quake, the Plaza hosts celebrities like Sanjay Gupta, and Anderson Cooper who enjoy the good life of buffet meals, air conditioning and an indoor pool. Outside an amoebic mass of black and blue tarps surround the parks statues, where our attention was taken when a rock fight broke out in front of our car, necessitating our quick departure. It`s only been six months since the biggest urban disaster in the history of modern man. It took two and a half years to rebuild after the tsunami in Sri Lanka, so we need to keep the faith that the rebuilding will continue with conscious direction. There is little solace at least that major disease has not become rampant in the streets.
We had a brief yet wonderful visit with Nadia and Gaetan last week at her home outside of Port au Prince. When Frantz, our driver, finally found the street after several passes, we arrived with big smiles and hugs for all. Gaetan is a perfect baby, with rolls and rolls of baby love. He barely cried when his Godmother gave him his 6 month shots. Their garden is large and flourishing and the house is rebuilding nicely. Unfortunately we missed Jonathon and Manasse who were out at school and work. We had planned to circle back and see them on the other end of the trip but had gotten delayed too much because of the fatal accident on National Hwy 1. I did get a chance to talk to Jonathon on the phone though. It didn`t matter that we couldn`t speak each others language. Language is incidental with us.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Sent by Tom via text message, Saturday, July 17, 7:55 p.m.:
Just made the day even longer. There was a fatal accident on the road. Spent an hour stabilizing the driver for transport, with a broken leg and possible spinal injury. Made splint out of sticks and loaded him into our pickup truck - another day in paradise!
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Tom by text message 2:08 p.m.:
Made it over the mountain and started surgeries three hours late. Going to be a long day ... very, very hot here, but at least we did not have an earthquake.
Should we fly in and help with bury survivors? Send private jet, please!
Tom by text message at 11:46 a.m.:
My phone is finally working again. Since my last e-mail, we could not get the right paperwork for the container, so we took three small trucks to no mans's land at the border and unloaded it. We sent half to the DR and food to the orphanage in Haiti. Dorothy was very happy, but a lot of IMA money was spent.
Today, we headed out with Sheila. One hour north of Port au Prince - it took us 1/2 and hour to climb up into the hills. One truck fell off the road, but we were able to get moving again. The road is washed out - we need to go back down and start over on a different road - nothing is easy here.
Friday, July 16, 2010
As usual, when I need this Palm phone the most it decides not work! Dorothy is off to see if she can get papers to cross the border. She doesn't want to put pressure on the powers that be as it makes people with jobs work even slower when pressed from above. So hopefully they will find an answer but time is ticking and the truck is costing $500 a day. If needed, I can be reached at the Plaza Hotel. Wish I could send pictures - they say a thousand words easily.
The plan is for Carol and Eric to join me here tonight. We will see. I told Dorothy to pack supplies for us to take to them to NLO in August. Off I go. Love to all - Tom
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Carol via text message at 7 p.m., detailing text conversations today between she and Tom:
Tom: Things are looking grim for our mission. We're stuck on the border - there are changes in the law and need for paperwork. Still waiting. Call me now, please.
Carol: Ruth got a room for you at the Plaza Hotel tonight.
Tom: That's great. We are still not across - going to make a run for it at the border without proper paperwork. Say a prayer.
Carol: Are you across?
Tom: No, but we hope to be within the hour. Rattle your beads.
Carol: Hail Mary.
Tom: Call our driver tell him to return to car - do it now. Leslie here.
Tom: Still in between DR and Haiti. Still hope to cross after dark. Leslie went away - he did not see us but saw Cedric and Widza - Leslie went in to Haiti.
Carol: Did the trucks cross?
Tom: No, we are still waiting but we have not been thrown out yet. Do not stress Dale with details - I'm teaching Dorothy to breathe - I just bribed another person $160.
Tom: No luck - gotta go to Port au Prince to get the right paperwork. I'm going to rest at the Plaza Hotel.
Today we loaded up the truck with gloves and drugs for the dental school. We found our 40 foot container, but they have changed the law about bringing in humanitarian supplies without charging taxes, and we need more paperwork. We sit at the border trying to get clearance amongst the worst chaos - you can't even begin to imagine. Carol will be doing surgery into the night.
We need a miracle to allow the truck to enter Haiti. I wish we still had a team of people to call on to research with their higher connections.
After the OR was set up, Dorothy, Eric and I went to their warehouse where a small amount was obtained from the tons of supplies sent down for the quake, that either came too late or were too much of a wrong thing at the time. Mountains of them need sorting and need to be sent to a clinic of hospital that can use them. We already prepared one mountain for distribution. All in all, a good day.
Thursday we head back to Port au Prince with a 20 foot container of supplies and food for the orphanage.