Within hours of the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti on Jan. 12, HHC staff were mobilizing to help the people of the stricken island and their countrymen and women here in New York City. More than 125,000 New Yorkers are of Haitian descent, including many HHC patients, doctors, nurses, and other employees. Numerous people throughout HHC facilities have been affected directly or indirectly, including people whose family members were hurt or killed in the catastrophe.
HHC President Alan D. Aviles appointed Antonio D. Martin, Senior Vice President of the Central Brooklyn Family Health Network and Executive Director of Kings County Hospital Center, to coordinate HHC’s response to assist the Haitian people. Martin will collaborate with NYC Council Member Mathieu Eugene, a native of Haiti, the Office of the Mayor and other appropriate organizations to develop HHC’s immediate as well as long term response. Given the scope and magnitude of the catastrophe, help will be needed for months to come.
“I know that HHC employees will have a strong compassionate response to this unfolding tragedy and will want to do what they can to aid those in desperate need” Aviles said.
In a message to staff, Martin said that because Kings County Hospital is in the heart of New York City’s Haitian Diaspora and serves a large Haitian population, the hospital has organized support groups for staff and community to cope with their grief and loss.
“It’s important that each of you reach out to fellow co-workers who need support,” Martin said.
HHC is doing the following:
- A Relief Fund was established by the HHC Foundation immediately following the earthquake. Cash or check donations will be accepted. . Donations may be sent to:
The HHC Foundation of New York City – Haiti Relief Fund
160 Water Street, Suite 1129
New York, NY 10038
- The Kings County Hospital Center’s 24 hour Behavioral Health Hotline will be available to provide counseling to members of the Haitian community. Trained mental health professional counselors who are fluent in Haitian Creole can be reached at 718-245-2314.
- A payroll deduction program will be set up to enable HHC employees to donate part of their paychecks to the HHC Foundation Haiti Relief Fund over the next few pay periods.
- HHC will recruit medical volunteers who can be ready for deployment at a moment’s notice and when advised by government authorities in charge of relief efforts. It was not advisable for HHC medical teams to travel to Haiti immediately after the quake because so much of the infrastructure of the island was damaged or destroyed, particularly at the epicenter near Port-au-Prince, making travel extremely difficult and dangerous. While some HHC doctors travel regularly to Haiti on their own to provide healthcare, and plan to go down on their own now, HHC will send a team with medical equipment and supplies as soon as authorities coordinating efforts on the ground signal that such assistance can be accepted.