Nurses share their experiences in earthquake-ravaged Haiti

by Brandon Richards bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC-TV) – Three nurses from CHRISTUS St. Patrick who traveled to Haiti to help with earthquake relief efforts shared their experiences with a group from the First Presbyterian Church of Lake Charles Saturday morning.

Calling it a trip "of a lifetime," Karen Carr, Molly Hagen and Melanie Gentry, all surgical nurses, said it was an experience they would never forget.

The three nurses were part of a 20 person team of medical professionals who delivered supplies to Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti and the epicenter of January's massive earthquake.

The nurses said they treated earthquake victims during the day and slept on a cot in a tent at night. Medical workers who worked at night had to sleep during the day, when temperatures were scorching.

The Lake Charles nurses participated in 85 surgeries during their week long mission.

Each of the nurses also said they had "meltdowns" while in Haiti.

For Hagen, it came after a five month old baby died on the operating table.

"It was just so sad, but at the same time there was another [being] child born," said Hagen.

For Carr, it came when she found herself stuck between an argument over medical supplies between hospital guards and a victim's family members.

"[I] started crying because they wouldn't stop fighting and I didn't want anyone to get injured," said Carr, noting her crying somehow convinced the two sides to end their argument.

And for Gentry, it came when a 12-year-old boy, whose entire family had perished in the earthquake, asked her if he could come live with her in Louisiana. Gentry had to tell him no and the boy turned and walked back into the streets.

"It was very heartbreaking for me to have to tell this child that I couldn't take him home with me," said Gentry.

Despite the long work hours, the sweltering temperatures and the personal meltdowns, all of the nurses said they would go back if they were asked to.

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