If Haitians are ever going to recover from the crisis caused by the massive earthquake that very nearly leveled the capital city of Port-au-Prince, they are going to need nurses.
Lots and lots and lots of nurses.
Haiti’s health-care infrastructure has crumbled. Many health-care providers were killed in the earthquake, that has killed tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of Haitians. The local doctors and nurses who survived are, themselves, injured and in shock. And hospitals and clinics that were maintained by United Nations agencies and relief organizations are either destroyed, shuttered or overrun.
So where will the nurses come from?
More than 8,000 U.S. nurses have, in a response organized by National Nurses United and the powerful California Nurses Association, have signaled their readiness to deploy immediately to Haiti.
Last month, in the annual progressive honor roll I prepared for The Nation, I hailed the NNU/CNA as the nation’s most valuable union.
And this militant labor organization is confirming its status in the aftermath of Haiti’s disaster.
"As reports of dire medical care shortages continue to pour in, we have thousands of registered nurses willing and ready to travel to Haiti," says NNU Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro. "We are doing everything in our power to get these nurses engaged as quickly as possible."
The NNU/CNA is in contact with the U.S. government and is prepared to work with other nations as part of the international relief effort. "We know that the few remaining medical facilities in Haiti and those who are now on the ground are completely overwhelmed. In this enormous human tragedy, it is vital to get the nurses deployed rapidly," says DeMoro.
What will make that possible is money.
To make a donation, go to the Registered Nurse Response Network website.
The nurses will do the rest.
Says the NNU:
You have seen the news reports–of the U.N. closing their hospital in Haiti, of the "bottleneck" of supplies and personnel getting into Port-au-Prince, of the official international and U.S. agencies gripped by problems that remind us of what we experienced in the aftermath of Katrina. The few remaining medical facilities in Haiti and those who are now on the ground are completely overwhelmed. In this enormous human tragedy, it is vital to get the nurses deployed rapidly.
As nurses did after Katrina, when hundreds volunteered to provide direct relief through RNRN, we will break through these logistical challenges and bring our ability to care, heal, and save lives to Haiti.
Anyone who knows the militant past and present of the CNA and, more recently, the NNU, will recognize that this union and its members will not let chaos or crisis prevent them from caring for those who need it most.