ROCKLAND — Two men from Haiti with bone and joint injuries are coming to Penobscot Bay Medical Center for surgery and extended recovery in the local community.
A team of Pen Bay physicians and medical staff, led by orthopedist Dr. Kevin Olehnik, will care for the men. Much of the cost of the medical care will be donated and funds are being raised for other costs, including medical equipment and travel to and from Haiti.
Olehnik, a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and New Jersey Medical School, has been active with Notre Dame’s Haiti Program for the last four years. That work took on additional urgency earlier this year when the small island nation experienced a devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake. Since then, Olehnik and his colleagues Dr. Lars Ellison, urologist, and Dr. Doug Cole, surgeon, have twice traveled to Haiti.
One of the Haitian men will receive a full hip replacement. An artist with two sons, Jean Junior, 30, sustained a hip dislocation in a motorcycle accident just before the earthquake. He is closely associated with the Notre Dame Haiti Program.
The other man, Claudy Bertrand, 30, has one child and was the program assistant with the University of Notre Dame’s Haiti program. Bertrand requires major surgery to repair his tibia it sustained an open fracture when he slid four stories down a collapsing hotel in Port-au-Prince during the Jan. 12 earthquake.
Both will spend their initial recovery period at Olehnik’s home in Rockport and will receive physical therapy and related recovery services from Pen Bay. The men are from the Leogane area in Haiti, home to the University of Notre Dame’s Haiti Program headquarters as well as the earthquake’s epicenter.
“Unfortunately, in Haiti, handicapped people are severely outcast,” said Olehnik. “Many times they are even rejected by their families because they are considered ‘abnormal’ and are unable to provide for the family. In this sense, surgery will, quite literally, give them their lives back.”
Bertrand arrived in the midcoast in mid-September. Surgery was scheduled shortly after his arrival and he will require approximately two months to recover.
Due to visa delays, Junior will make the trip to the midcoast around the middle of October. “Despite his present condition, Jean must visit the main hospital in Port-au-Prince to be evaluated to verify that the surgery he requires cannot be performed in Haiti. Then he will have to go to the U.S. to apply for his medical visa,” said Olehnik.
All Pen Bay physicians involved in the surgeries are donating their services. Penobscot Bay Medical Center is providing hospital resources required at cost. Orthopedists Dr. Richard Beauchesne and Dr. Douglas MacMichael will perform the surgeries along with anesthesiologist Dr. David Maddox and the rest of the anesthesia department.
A group has formed to raise money for Jean Junior’s and Claudy Bertrand’s travel expenses as well as other costs related to their operations, hospital care and aftercare. With the help of The Pen Bay Healthcare Foundation, a restricted fund has been created to facilitate donations to provide this care.
Checks may be made out to Pen Bay Healthcare Foundation, with check notation International Medical Fund/Haiti, and mailed to: 22 White St., Rockland ME 04841. Call 594-6713 for information, or make a gift to this fund online at www.penbayhealthcare.org/internationalfund.