COM responds to the tragedy in Haiti

As the world’s attention is gripped by the tragic scenes coming out of Haiti this week, several faculty, staff and students at the College of Medicine have expressed their willingness to assist in the earthquake relief effort.

“I have already heard from many in the college who are willing to offer their talents, time and funds to help people who are in great need,” said Dr. Michael L. Good, dean of the COM. “I am inspired by their selflessness and compassion.”

In an e-mail sent to faculty, staff and students Thursday evening, Good emphasized the importance of staging an orderly relief effort in Haiti and said any UF efforts will be arranged through appropriate state and federal agencies. Good participated in a teleconference earlier in the day called by Frank Brogan, chancellor of the Florida Board of Governors, who noted that as Haiti’s closest U.S. neighbor, the state of Florida will play a central role in relief operations.

“Certain people and resources are needed right now, but others will be needed in Haiti in the weeks, months, even years to come,” Good said. “As health-care professionals and the state’s physicians, we are in a position to fill the greatest needs.”

Good announced that Dr. Nancy Hardt, senior associate dean of external affairs, will serve as the contact person for the College of Medicine’s relief efforts, coordinating the college’s efforts with those of the university and the state. Her initial activities will include an inventory of COM people and resources that would be appropriate when UF is called upon to provide help as part of the coordinated effort.

“I ask that you also keep students and fellow faculty members in your thoughts who have family and friends in Haiti,” Good said. “As I’m sure you know, our medical students have had a strong commitment to the people of Haiti for more than a decade. Hundreds have participated in the medical outreach trip Project Haiti every spring break since 1998. UF medical students are some of the most sympathetic and caring individuals I have come across. I hope you will reach out to them during this time of disaster.”

Dr. Donna Parker, assistant dean for minority affairs, is assisting COM students of Haitian descent contact loved ones in the country. Her office is also organizing students’ relief efforts.

Good said the college will mobilize economic support, both for those relief organizations already on the ground in Hiati as well as COM faculty and students who may travel in the future. Dr. Rick Davidson will coordinate the collection and distribution of funds and will communicate how individuals can help with financial support.

“Thank you for coming together to help others in their time of great need,” Good told his faculty and students.