Many Connections. One U.

Faculty Salutes

on January 11, 2011 by Janet Edwards

Dean Gulas leads his Haitian students in a Tai Chi exercise during class.
Rubble is piled along a wall of the Verrettes Market in Deschappelles, Haiti, where Dean Gulas is currently teaching at Hopital Albert Schweitzer.

Blogging: Dean Gulas Reports from Haiti
Charles Gulas, PhD, dean of the School of Health Professions, was in Haiti when a devastating earthquake rocked the country on Jan. 12, 2010. This month, Gulas is back in Haiti for three weeks to work in the city of Deschappelles at Hôpital Albert Schweitzer (HAS), teaching in the Rehabilitation Technician Training Program he helped to establish. During this, his fourth visit to the country, Gulas is posting photos and updates on his blog, drgulas.com. He returns to Maryville on Jan. 24.

On the anniversary of the quake, Gulas asked his students to reflect on their experiences. He shared some of their stories on his blog:

“Several of our students were in school in Port-au-Prince and witnessed their friends being crushed as buildings collapsed. One student had the barbed wire from the top of a collapsing wall collapse on her legs as she ran out of the school yard. Almost everyone knows of people who were simply ‘lost’ that day, assumed dead and their bodies never recovered. This afternoon there was a celebration of progress at the Hanger Clinic.  There was music, a Haitian skit, and many patients recalled their experiences and demonstrated their new legs. One gentleman, who lost both of his legs, actually demonstrated that he could now run with his new legs. An amazing feat!”

Students he began teaching in 2009 graduated from their program last fall and are now working at the hospital. A prosthetic program has also been started at HAS and more than 500 people have been provided with artificial legs. With all the injuries that resulted from the earthquake, these new rehabilitation practitioners are desperately needed, Gulas said. A recent series of video stories created by MSNBC feature the work being done at HAS with a young prosthetic patient. Watch the first video here and view the slide show here.

Since the earthquake, Haiti has struggled with other major concerns, most recently a cholera epidemic.

“Before coming here this year I was somewhat concerned about the cholera epidemic,” Gulas wrote on his blog. “I am happy to report that the number of cases here and across the Artibonite River Valley have significantly decreased and the HAS pediatric cholera unit was closed yesterday due to the low census.”

When the earthquake hit, in honor of the work being done by Gulas and his colleagues, the Maryville community began raising money to support HAS. To date, nearly $3,500 has been collected. Contributions are still being accepted online.

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