ROCKPORT, Maine — A team of Penobscot Bay Medical Center physicians and medical staff, led by orthopedist Dr. Kevin Olehnik, is expected to be recognized during halftime of today’s football game at the University of Notre Dame.
Olehnik, a 1978 graduate of the South Bend, Ind., university, has worked for Notre Dame’s Haiti Program for the last four years, donating his time and skills to helping Haitians with debilitating bone injuries.
Most recently, Olehnik and his team performed surgery at the Rockport hospital to repair the fractured tibia of Claudy Bertrand, 30, who was injured sliding four stories down a collapsing building in Port-au-Prince during the Jan. 12 earthquake.
Bertrand, who is recovering nicely, has returned home to Haiti, according to Christopher Burke, Pen Bay Healthcare’s director of marketing and communication.
A second Haitian, Jean Junior, also 30, is expected to arrive in Rockport later this month for a hip replacement required because of a motorcycle accident that happened just before the earthquake.
While Olehnik and his team members are donating their services and the Haitian men are housed in the doctor’s home during recuperation, there are other medical costs and travel expenses that need to be covered.
A fundraising effort is under way for an estimated $35,000 to cover those additional expenses, Burke said Friday.
“We are actively seeking support in the community and the state for this effort,” he said. “There has been a lot of excitement. People seem excited about the opportunity to make a difference directly in these people’s lives.”
Burke said the surgeries are life-changing.
“There is a very real stigma attached to people with physical handicaps in Haiti. They are even rejected by their families,” he said.
Checks may be made out to Pen Bay Healthcare Foundation, marked for the International Medical Fund-Haiti, and mailed to 22 White St., Rockland 04841. Donations also may be made online at www.penbayhealthcare.org/internationalfund. For information, call 594-6713.
Burke said Olehnik and Dr. Doug Cole would be in South Bend today to represent the medical team at halftime of the Notre Dame game against Pittsburgh.