Mission Initiative Update: Haiti

MTSA faculty and partners were joined by five students on the school’s third trip to Haiti last October, providing acute surgical pain management care in conjunction with hand surgeons from the Touching Hands Project, at Hopital Adventiste d’Haiti in Carrefour, near Port-au-Prince.

The MTSA mission team, pictured on the steps of Hopital Adventiste d’Haiti, is joined by hand surgeons, anesthesiologists, and the other volunteers from Annapolis, Md.


The team also conducted education sessions for local ER physicians and anesthesiologists, boosting the standard of care and providing a long-term impact on the people in Haiti. In addition, MTSA students and faculty held training sessions for providers at myLIFEspeaks, a non-profit in Neply that offers services for children who have been orphaned or abandoned.

“We assisted with 17 surgeries, mainly upper extremities, with each patient receiving a peripheral nerve block placed by our students with guidance from our CRNA and anesthesiologist team,” said MTSA Program Administrator Rusty Gentry, DNAP, CRNA, who was part of the mission team. “In one case, we performed a nerve harvest from the leg and placed that nerve into the arm. But mainly our focus was peripheral arm, tendon and ligament transplant, allowing the patients to have better function in their extremities.”

As part of the education for local ER physicians and anesthesiologists, MTSA provided intubation training and donated a McGRATH™ video laryngoscope. B. Braun Medical Inc., represented by Stan Bearden, supported the mission effort by donating block kits and catheters.

“The level of training and experience for ER physicians and anesthesiologists isn’t quite the same as in the U.S., particularly with regard to central lines, intubations and nerve blocks. So our sessions really helped, especially focusing on the axillary block. The students assisted in the instruction, and they were able to scan my neck and arms and perform upper extremity nerve identification. The physicians were eager to learn and did a great job,” Gentry said.

One unique aspect of the trip was the inclusion of a student, Kemens Desruisseaux, who originally hails from Haiti and is fluent in the native language.

“Having such a knowledgeable student to translate information that is challenging for a non-medical person was extremely helpful,” Gentry said. “We normally rely on an interpreter. But having someone from the anesthesia community – a student, no less – it was just incredible. Kemens was a valuable member of the team.

“It’s important to impart to the students the mission of MTSA by participating in these mission trips and allowing them the opportunity to place these nerve blocks and perform anesthetics on patients who may not speak the same language,” Gentry added. “The patients we served in Haiti had a much higher tolerance for pain than we’re used to, even the kids. They just deal with life in a different way. Watching the students serve them in this setting – performing every single block – made me very proud of what they’re accomplishing.”

The 2018 Haiti mission team included the following students from the Class of 2019:

  • Eric Cooper
  • Kemens Desruisseaux
  • Tyler Lamb
  • Kelsey Monger
  • Mercedes Philips

Funding for MTSA’s Mission Initiatives is provided, in part, by the generous contributions of alumni and friends through the Mission and Awards Gala, Golf Classic, Sporting Clay Tournament, and other events and donations throughout the year. To contribute, visit www.mtsa.edu/donate.

Emergency room physicians and nurses attend a lecture given by MTSA Program Director Rusty Gentry, DNAP, CRNA.

MTSA SRNA Tyler Lamb performs a regional anesthesia block with Kemens Desruisseaux and the visiting anesthesiologist from Annapolis, Md.

Mercedes Philips, MTSA SRNA, and mission team member prepare to perform a regional anesthesia block.

Back To News