Dr. Guesly Dessieux, a family practice physician at Santiam Memorial Hospital in Stayton, is returning to his roots with hope, help and heartache.
“It will be hard to see so many people suffering,” said Dessieux, a native of Haiti, the small Caribbean island that suffered catastrophic damage during the magnitude 7.0 earthquake Jan. 12.
Haitian Christian Mission representatives immediately asked Dessieux to help provide medical support at its local hospital. Fond Parisien, run by the mission organization, is about 24 miles east of the capital city, Port-au-Prince, hardest hit by the earthquake.
“It won’t be like the last time,” said Dessieux, who helped at Fond Parisien last October and at other times.
“People are coming for medical help, suffering, many now homeless. There will be lots of sick kids … some pain, heartaches and sadness.”
Finding no national team to join, Dessieux quickly put together a 15-member medical team of doctors, emergency room nurses and paramedics. Joining the efforts were Dessieux’s older brother, a maxillofacial surgeon in Connecticut, and a sister, a nurse practitioner living in Kansas City, as well as other physicians from around the country. The team left Jan. 24 after gathering hygiene items and medical supplies, including gauze, bandages, casting material, antibiotics, aspirin and more.
“We expect to see a full gamut of problems,” Dessieux said. “More than likely we’ll see a lot of secondary infections from untreated wound, orthopedic injuries, and dehydration.”
Dessieux appreciates the opportunity to give back to his country. He came to the United States at age 8 with his parents, who wanted a better future for their six children, one born after their arrival in Miami.
“They highly promoted education,” said Dessieux, who attended medical school in Kansas City and did his residency in Jefferson City, Mo.
Santiam Memorial Hospital FBO
Haitian Relief Fund
1401 N. 10th St. Stayton, OR 97383
For information, call Adam Meurer or
Maggie Hudson, 503-769-9236
He traveled with Fellowship of American Medical Evangelists in 2004. On that trip, he met his future wife, Sara, who was teaching English at Haitian Christian Mission.
“She was born and raised in Eugene, so we moved to Oregon in 2007 after my residency,” said Dessieux, who started his practice at Santiam Memorial in July of that year. The couple has a 6-month-old son, Josiah.
Dessieux asks for continued prayer and support for Haiti, still reeling from the destruction cause by the earthquake and aftershocks, including a 5.9 tremor on Jan. 20. Early reports from the Haitian government estimated 150,000 capital residents died in the quake, a number that could double as deaths from outside of Port-au-Prince are reported and rubble within the city is cleared.
Survival has been reduced to basic needs: water, food, shelter, medical care. Relief efforts are continuing worldwide and in Stayton.
“The poverty in Haiti is tremendous,” Dessieux said. “People here can get involved in more than just the immediate cause. Haitian Christian Mission has a children’s sponsorship program for just pennies a day.”
Dr. Paul Neumann, also in family practice at Santiam Memorial, said his children, Oso, 9, and Levin, 7, are raising funds for Haiti at Lourdes Public Charter School.
“The lack of resources and follow-up and support for patients is a concern,” Neumann said. “I feel fortunate to be in a community and with Santiam Hospital who make it possible for us to help.”
The team is expected to return on Feb. 2, Dessieux said.