By Stephen Smith, Globe Staff
From the rubble of the devastated Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, the injured are making their way slowly to outlying hospitals and clinics run by Partners in Health, according to a spokesman with the Boston-based international health agency.
"People have started to arrive," Partners in Health spokesman Andrew Marx said this afternoon from the agency's Boston headquarters. "Some of them are getting there on their own. There has been more than a trickle of people coming in."
At the Partners in Health hospital in the town of Hinche, workers loaded a truck with medical supplies and prepared to make the two-and-a-half-hour journey to Port-au-Prince. The need, they learned from a colleague in the capital city, is acute.
"We heard from a doctor who is in Port-au-Prince that the only thing she had for pain was aspirin," Marx said. "So there's a desperate need for pain medications and simple things like bandages."
The medical director of Partners in Health, Dr. Joia Mukherjee, was also en route to Port-au-Prince, via Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.
Partners in Health has a major presence in Haiti, particularly in the Central Plateau region that sits to the northeast of the capital. Its workforce, almost entirely constituted of Haitian medical workers, numbers 4,000, including 100 physicians and 600 nurses. All of the group's workers in the country have been accounted for, Marx said. "Everybody seems to be OK, which is a great relief," he said.
What is less certain, he said, is the safety of workers' relatives. "Many of them have not been able to determine the whereabouts and well-being of their family members," Marx said, "and obviously that's a huge concern." The Partners in Health model -- established in Haiti and later expanded to Peru, Russia, several African nations, and the United States -- depends on developing a local workforce.
Dr. Paul Farmer, the charismatic co-founder of Partners in Health and subject of the book "Mountains Beyond Mountains," recently underwent knee surgery and was recuperating in Miami at the time of the earthquake. Farmer, who is also the UN deputy special envoy to Haiti, flew to New York today to meet with former President Bill Clinton, who is the UN special envoy to the island nation. "They're hatching the UN response and trying to make sure there is a substantial response from the UN," Marx said.
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