News & Politics

Haiti Desperately Needs Nurses. Here's How You Can Help

Haiti's health-care infrastructure has crumbled. Many health-care providers were killed in the earthquake. Local doctors are themselves injured and in shock.

If Haitians are ever going to recover from the crisis caused by the massive earthquake that very nearly leveled the capital city of Port-au-Prince, they are going to need nurses.

Lots and lots and lots of nurses.

Haiti's health-care infrastructure has crumbled. Many health-care providers were killed in the earthquake, that has killed tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of Haitians. The local doctors and nurses who survived are, themselves, injured and in shock. And hospitals and clinics that were maintained by United Nations agencies and relief organizations are either destroyed, shuttered or overrun.

So where will the nurses come from?

More than 8,000 U.S. nurses have, in a response organized by National Nurses United and the powerful California Nurses Association, have signaled their readiness to deploy immediately to Haiti.

Last month, in the annual progressive honor roll I prepare forThe Nation, I hailed the NNU/CNA as the nation's most valuable union.

And this militant labor organization is confirming its status in the aftermath of Haiti's disaster.

"As reports of dire medical care shortages continue to pour in, we have thousands of registered nurses willing and ready to travel to Haiti," says NNU Executive Director Rose Ann DeMoro. "We are doing everything in our power to get these nurses engaged as quickly as possible."

The NNU/CNA is in contact with the U.S. government and is prepared to work with other nations as part of the international relief effort. "We know that the few remaining medical facilities in Haiti and those who are now on the ground are completely overwhelmed. In this enormous human tragedy, it is vital to get the nurses deployed rapidly," says DeMoro.

What will make that possible is money.

To make a donation, go to the Registered Nurse Response Network website.

John Nichols writes about politics for The Nation magazine as its Washington correspondent.
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