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Dean of medicine delivers baby in Haiti

By Sharon Gray

It was straight to work for Dr. James Rourke, dean of medicine at Memorial, when he arrived in Haiti Feb. 18 with Team Broken Earth. He was on a ward looking after a number of sick patients when a patient came in just about ready to deliver her baby.

"The nurse came and asked if I would give her a hand which I was glad to do," Dr. Rourke explained in an interview with NTV news Feb. 19. "A beautiful baby girl, seven pounds. All went well and the mom and baby went home a couple of hours later as they tend to do here. This isn't a maternity hospital but if people come in right ready to deliver, what are you going to do? You just go ahead and do what's needed and that's sort of the approach here, you do what's needed because without that there's no one to do it."

Although it's been a decade since Dr. Rourke delivered a baby, it was a regular part of his practice as a rural doctor in Goderich, Ont., for 25 years.

There are 27 volunteers from Newfoundland on Team Broken Earth's fourth mission to Haiti. The team is headed by orthopedic surgeon Dr. Andrew Furey. NTV's Darrin Bent is also spending a few days with the team and will be reporting back live Feb. 20 and 21 and concluding the three-part series on his return Feb. 22.

Dr. Rourke said when the team arrived at the hospital in Port-au-Prince, the acting medical officer in charge talked about the hospital built by Project Medishare, University of Miami, being the "last hope" hospital for Haiti.

"It's the place where all the worst injuries come," he said in the NTV interview. "It's really something to see what they have here compared to what the needs are."

Dr. Rourke said that so far his time in Haiti has been both exciting and daunting.
"We've seen more in two days here than I would see in all my years of practice. The kind of patients we see have a lot of gunshot wounds and ongoing trauma and then a lot people left with needed surgeries – like the cleft palate surgeries being done by Dr. Art Rideout – that have not been able to be done because there's nobody to do them."

Haiti was ravaged by an earthquake two years ago that levelled the capital city of Port au Prince, killing 200,000 people and leaving more than a million people homeless.

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