When Children’s Hospital Central California (of Madera) pediatric orthopaedist Dr. Daniel Ruggles learned of the desperate need for medical aid in Haiti following the devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent aftershocks, he knew he had help.
“He told me ‘It was kind of my calling, Haiti is where I need to be,’” said Wesley Segal, ambulatory general manager, Children’s Orthopaedic Clinic, who has been in contact with Dr. Ruggles while he is in the Caribbean.
Dr. Ruggles is a perfect fit for the medical need there in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, where people have suffered fractures, broken limbs and a host of other medical conditions. He has traveled extensively serving on medical missions for CURE International and SHARE in Dominican Republic, Haiti and Kenya. Dr. Ruggles is here with Children’s for a few more months and is then planning to move to the Dominican Republic this summer to serve as medical director of the CURE Center for Orthopedic Specialties in Santo Domingo. His specific surgical interests include trauma and fractures, limb deformity and scoliosis.
Upon learning of the news in Haiti, Dr. Ruggles contacted his CURE counterpart Dr. Scott Nelson, medical director of the CURE International Hospital in Santo Domingo, and was soon on a transport plane to the Dominican Republic. CURE International, a Pennsylvania-based charity, gives medical care to disabled children in developing countries.
Dr. Ruggles left the United States on Jan. 20 , along with other volunteer physicians and medical supplies, en route to the Dominican Republic where he then traveled by ground to Haiti. Dr. Ruggles said the CURE facility had treated more than 90 cases before he reached Haiti, but there was a backlog of over 300 patients waiting when he arrived – more than 50 of those were urgent.
“Fortunately CURE has a stable network within Haiti and has a viable OR running at a local hospital,” said Dr. Ruggles in his communication to Children’s Orthopaedic physicians and staff.
Dr. Ruggles arrived in the Dominican Republic at midnight on Friday, Jan. 21 and traveled to Haiti that morning, but not before running into complications in crossing the border. “Things are very chaotic and communication has been challenging, especially with quick decisions,” said Dr. Ruggles.
Now safely in Haiti, Dr. Ruggles is with a team of physicians utilizing his orthopaedic expertise in providing critical care for injured earthquake victims. He has sent messages to the Children’s staff indicating conditions are tough, but they have adequate food, water and security.
“This is close to his heart and what he wants to do,” said Segal of Dr. Ruggles. “The physicians and staff here are very supportive and have stepped up to take care of his patients in his absence.”