HSC-led team arrives in Haiti

College of Public Health and Health Professions dean leads response to crisis in Haiti

Dr. David Meurer, a clinical professor in the department of emergency medicine and medical director of the ShandsCair adult team, is the latest COM faculty member to travel to Haiti to assist in medical relief efforts following the 7.0-magnitutde earthquake that has devastated the country.

Meurer left Gainesville this weekend as part of a team of public health and medical professionals from UF and the community led by Michael Perri, Ph.D., dean of UF’s College of Public Health and Health Professions and Edsel Redden, an IFAS extension agent with 20 years of experience traveling to Haiti. The group is working with the U.S. Southern Command, which is coordinating the Department of Defense’s response to the disaster in Haiti.

In addition to Meurer, Perri and Redden, the group includes two surgeons from Palatka, Drs. Robert Molsh and David Risch; an internist from Palatka, Dr. John Gaines; Sally Bethert, R.N., from the College of Nursing; Slande Celeste, M.P.H., from the College of Public Health and Health Professions; community physician Dr. Paul Henry; and Cindy Nelly, R.N., a nurse at Shands. The team departed Florida from Tampa, traveled to the Dominican Republic then to Haiti on Tuesday. They will set up in Croix-des-Bouquets, located approximately eight miles northeast of Port-au-Prince.

The group will not only provide medical relief but plans to prepare an on-the-ground assessment of public health needs in Christianville, a mission community in the town of Gressier about 20 miles west of Port-au-Prince. The clinic and schools in Christianville have collapsed and the American physician and nurse who head the clinic have asked for assistance. They have nearly exhausted their medical supplies. IFAS faculty have had a long-term relationship with the Christianville community, where they run a demonstration farm that provides the major source of nutrition to the local schools.

Meurer, a 1989 graduate of the College of Medicine, will attempt to provide updates while in Haiti. His wife, Sherry Meurer, is accompanying Mark Atkinson, Ph.D., an eminent scholar for diabetes research at the UF COM, who left for Haiti Saturday in response to the need for medical professionals and supplies. Atkinson and his group were said to have spent the first night at the airport in Port-au-Prince before traveling north to Saint-Marc.