Haitian earthquake victims could come to Massachusetts for treatment within the next few days, state officials said.
"We have made it clear that we are ready and capable to receive patients," said John Auerbach, commissioner of the state Department of Public Health. "But it’s a fluid situation."
State officials are organizing doctors and working with federal agencies and local hospitals to prepare for the arrival, said Auerbach.
The Patrick administration offered the state’s assistance shortly after the Jan. 12 earthquake, and local hospitals had expected to receive patients last week. But federal officials on Wednesday suspended flights from Haiti to Florida, where the victims had been sent, amid a dispute over who would pay for the hundreds of victims being treated there.
After federal officials agree to cover the victims’ medical expenses, the government resumed emergency medical flights on Sunday night, leading local officials to increase their preparations.
"We need to plan on multiple levels, meaning we’re talking to federal officials, our counterparts in Florida, local health partners, and community-based Haitian agencies," Auerbach said. "We will need to deal with issues including immigration, tracking, and transportation."
He said the state will likely only have several hours of warning before the first plane arrives, and it won’t be clear until then how many patients will be aboard or where they will need to go.
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