Haiti Mission Trip
On November 15, 2016, I attended a presentation at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital (TJUH), where my surgeon Dr. David Cognetti and his colleagues Dr. Joseph Curry and Dr. Adam Luginbuhl spoke about several topics including the Complex Head and Neck Care and Education (CHANCE) mission trip to Haiti. Jefferson has one of the top ranked Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) programs in the United States, and they believe this care should not be limited to those who can travel to Philadelphia. Through the CHANCE mission trip to Haiti, they’re able to expand their impact and give individuals suffering from a complex thyroid disease or head injury a better chance of surviving. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and were still digging out from the earthquake of 2010 that killed at least 200,000 when Hurricane Matthew hit in October 2016 killing an additional 600+. Still today, nearly a million people are looking for food and drinkable water every day.
Jefferson team members have partnered with skilled Haitian doctors for the past two years to provide 150 Haitians with care, hope and a chance at Hospital Lumiere in Bonne Finne and St. Luke’s Hospital in Port-Au-Prince. The Jefferson team members also connect with Haitian people locally, attending mass and seeing how their spirits are lifted through songs and prayer. Dr. David M. Cognetti, M.D., FACS, Co-Director, Jefferson Center for Head and Neck Surgery, and Associate Professor, Department of Otolaryngology- Head & Neck Surgery at Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University; offered the following comments in a recent interview about the upcoming trip. “Jefferson’s CHANCE foundation is not only about bringing medical care to Haiti, but also about educating the local medical professionals on how to continue the care after our visits. When Jefferson was looking for a volunteer to provide a patient’s perspective, David Caldarella immediately came to mind. Not only has he experienced head and neck surgery firsthand, but, as a lifelong resident of Long Beach Island, he has also witnessed the devastating effects a Hurricane can have on a community.”
I’m blessed to be a dear friend and former patient of Dr. Cognetti’s and now a volunteer at TJUH. The invitation to accompany Jefferson’s amazing team on a 4-day mission trip to Haiti leaving Sunday January 22nd, is an opportunity of a lifetime. I will serve in a support role for the team and interact as a patient advocate to the families of patients through local interpreters. Overall Patient Support is of utmost importance to all of us at David’s Dream & Believe Cancer Foundation and being able to watch and learn directly from the care providers at Jefferson and staff in Haiti will afford me the opportunity to bring those valuable techniques home to current and future patients of DDBCF. My friend of 25 years and respected photographer Michael John Murphy has also been invited to join us on the mission to visually capture many impactful moments. It is truly an honor to have been invited by the Jefferson team to join this Haiti mission trip and to share a common goal in serving as “A Beacon of Hope” that shines beyond our borders and out into the global community!