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Video IconDr. Robert Fuller, head of emergency medicine at the Health Center, is interviewed by CNNís Wolf Blitzer about the difficulties of providing medical care after Haitiís devastating earthquake.

Feature Story

Health Center Today, January 20, 2010

Health Center Physician in Haiti to Help with Relief Effort After Devastating 7.0-Magnitude Earthquake

By Carolyn Pennington

International Medical Corpsí Emergency Response Team

International Medical Corpsí Emergency Response Team is in Poart-au-Prince assisting survivors of the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti.

Photo by International Medical Corps, Director of Global Communication Margaret Aguirre

Dr. Robert Fuller, head of emergency medicine at the Health Center, is in Haiti as a physician-volunteer with the International Medical Corpsí Emergency Response Team. Fuller is accompanied by Matt Howell, a graduate of the UConn emergency medicine program.

Fuller says heís trying his best to get the Port-au-Prince General Hospital up and running but itís not an easy task. "This hospital only had capacity for 700 patients when it was fully operational, and thereís nearly 1,500 patients sitting outside waiting for care so itís very tricky to try and squeeze all of those patients into a place that couldnít fit them to begin with,Ē explains Fuller.

The team is treating crush injuries, trauma, basic wound care, shock and other critical cases. Doctors are reportedly doing 20 amputations a day. Medical supplies, such as IVís, pain medicines and bandages are extremely limited.

Fuller is not a novice when it comes to disaster relief efforts. In another International Medical Corps mission, he travelled to Banda Aceh, Indonesia, after a tsunami killed 300,000 people in December 2004. Fuller was the interim director of emergency medicine in a clinic there for one month.

On September 11, 2001, Fuller was part of the medical response team from the Health Center that assisted in the efforts at ground zero in New York City. Over its 24 hours of service, the team offered specialized rescue/medical care and assisted in the search and rescue efforts.

Although it did not follow a disaster, Fuller took a sabbatical from the Health Center last year to work in Ecuador. He provided his emergency medicine expertise in an inner-city hospital in the countryís biggest city, Guayaquil, whose patients are mostly the poor and underserved.

Fuller is expected to be in Haiti for two weeks.

Dr. Robert Fuller and Dr. Matthew Howell

Dr. Robert Fuller (right), providing care with another member of the International Medical Corps, Dr. Matthew Howell, a graduate of the UConn emergency medicine program.

Dr. Robert Fuller talks with former President Bill Clinton

Dr. Robert Fuller, director of emergency medicine at the Health Center, talks with former President Bill Clinton, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.