A Fraser Lake paramedic and nurse is flying to Haiti this month to help patients in critical care.
Leaving for Port-au-Prince on Oct. 21, Christie Arnason will be volunteering for one week in Hospital Bernard Mevs through Project Medishare, working with patients and helping to train local medical staff.
Arnason originally planned to stay for two weeks, but she was advised to shorten her first-time assistance due to the draining long hours.
“No idea what we’ll be doing yet, usually 12 to 16-hour shifts,” she said. “Which is fine; it’s what I’m there for.”
Arnason first heard of the project in spring, when she read about a Northern Health lab technician who recently volunteered for the initiative.
“I’ve always wanted to do some kind of overseas volunteering,” Arnason said, a paramedic in Fraser Lake for six years and a nurse for 20 years. “Being a paramedic is a skill I can use to help out, rather than building a house.”
Having previously visited and enjoyed the Dominican Republic — an island nation that shares its western border with Haiti — Arnason also became interested in the country when a family friend adopted Haitian children.
“I always wanted to help, but didn’t know where to start,” she said.
Through online donations and two local barbecue fundraisers, Arnason so far raised over $2,000, which will go towards patient supplies, medical care, and training for medical staff through Project Medishare.
Founded by two doctors in 1994 and started with a health care assessment of Haiti by University of Miami faculty, the project aims to improve Haitian capacity through grassroots public health initiatives and education of local medical professionals, and also works in three rural communities in Haiti’s Central Plateau, the poorest region within the country.