by Elizabeth Baier, Minnesota Public Radio
Rochester, Minn. — The last team of Mayo Clinic doctors volunteering in Haiti since the January 2010 earthquake return to Rochester beginning Saturday.
In all, about 100 Mayo doctors, nurses and pharmacists volunteered in Haiti, helping the country rebuild its medical system.
Immediately after the disaster, Mayo doctors helped with emergency care. But as the country slowly recovered, clinic staff helped Haitian medical professionals restore an adult hospital in the capital city of Port-au-Prince.
Walter Franz, a family doctor at Mayo who went on two separate missions to Haiti, said the goal was always to set up a system that Haitian doctors could eventually maintain themselves.
“It’s a real challenge sometimes to look at what is sustainable and what can we do that sets up something that our colleagues elsewhere can run and maintain and we can get into a mentorship role,” Franz said.
Cholera continues to be a problem for Haiti. Franz noted the latest team was reluctant to leave a place where they still could be useful.
“Certainly it’s sad,” Franz said. “Every team that was down there didn’t want to come back. You always feel ‘if I had just stayed longer.’ And that’s both the poignancy and the necessity of doing work like this.”
Franz said Mayo doctors will continue to mentor their colleagues in Haiti via weekly video conferences.