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Haiti earthquake survivor dreads departure

Zilania Joacin, who suffers from dementia, said she would die alone if she returned to Haiti after care in Cambridge.
Zilania Joacin, who suffers from dementia, said she would die alone if she returned to Haiti after care in Cambridge.Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff

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They help her into a sequined dress, tie a good luck balloon to her bed, and share a cake bidding “Bon Voyage.”

The medical staff at Spaulding Hospital Cambridge has healed the wounds of Zilania Joacin, fed and clothed her, helped her in and out of bed nearly every day since she arrived with little more than a hospital johnny.

Now, some in tears, they gather in the cramped room the wizened woman shares with another patient. They have come to say goodbye.

Joacin arrived in Boston four years ago, battered by the earthquake that ravaged Haiti in 2010. For nearly all of that time, home has been the second floor of Spaulding Hospital Cambridge. The 71-year-old has been here longer than any other patient and, by all accounts, she is the last evacuee of the quake remaining in a Boston-area hospital.

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