Earthquake déjà vu

After a huge earthquake hit Chile on Saturday it was difficult to avoid a feeling of déjà vu.

Just seven weeks ago similar scenes of destruction streamed out of Haiti. Following the Haitian quake Americans responded generously. In similar fashion medical aid and emergency response teams are now rushing to Chile.

Doctors, nurses and other medical personnel from the Philadelphia region were early responders in Haiti. Teams from Cooper University Hospital and the University of Pennsylvania quickly arrived to care for survivors. Individuals and ad hoc medical teams from South Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania dropped everything to help.

And hospitals here stood ready for the most grievously injured Haitians. Five days after the earthquake hit, the first three Haitians evacuated to the U.S. for care arrived at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. On February 3, a pregnant Haitian woman delivered a healthy baby girl at Penn-affiliated Pennsylvania Hospital. Nine Haitian children have received care at Philadelphia hospitals – four at Shriners Hospital for Children-Philadelphia, three at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and two at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children.

After being told the care he needed wasn't available in Haiti, Wilner Pierre, 28, expected to die. But a young doctor from South Jersey found Pierre and fought to have him flown to Philadelphia for treatment. Pierre arrived at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital at 10:15 p.m. on January 29 with a fractured spine, a severely broken leg, gangrene and multiple infections. He was the first of two young men with broken backs sent to Jefferson.

In the month since his surgeries, Pierre's condition has improved. He still has pneumonia, but was recently moved from the surgical intensive care unit to medical ward. Still, it will take another couple of months to learn whether the young man will regain the use of his legs.