Argentine Military Hospital Saves Lives

By Dialogo
April 01, 2010

The Argentine Air Force relies on a rapid-deployment military hospital in Haiti to provide health care to all the members of MINUSTAH, the U.N. mission in the country. In the days following the earthquake, the hospital increased its capacity to accommodate 15,000 patients and was reinforced with eight professionals.
“We provided care for members of MINUSTAH and the Haitian population because most of the public hospitals as well as the hospitals run by the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, the Cuban hospital and others had collapsed, so the people who lived near the hospital were treated here,” the unit’s Commander, Col. Osvaldo De Simone, who is also a doctor, explained to Diálogo. “We had to care for the population as much as possible ... because everything had been knocked over as a result of the earthquake, like the X-ray machine and the operating room. Since we didn’t know whether there were going to be other earthquakes, we decided to care for everyone outside, in the parking lot,” De Simone explained.
In a single night, doctors at the Argentine hospital treated 482 patients, the majority of them seriously injured, and performed several surgeries. “In less than two hours, we repaired the generators, the fuel tanks and the water [purification] plant, and we managed to get the operating room set up. The most serious cases were evacuated to Santo Domingo [in the Dominican Republic] on 20 flights, where we took 38 patients; all of them made it alive and [eventually] recovered,” De Simone said.