How to help
To donate to Karin Feltman’s mission trip and other relief efforts, visit One Heart Ministries International Web site at ohmhaiti.org. Indicate in the donation box that the money is for Haiti relief.
As soon as the 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, Karin Feltman’s friends started asking when she would go to help.
A 13-year veteran of Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s emergency room, Feltman has served on medical mission trips in Mississippi, Kenya, Honduras and Malawi.
“I cannot not do this,” Feltman said. “I go out and help those people who need it the most. And I can’t think of anyone on the face of this earth who needs it more than those in Haiti.”
On Saturday afternoon, Feltman sat among the piles of supply boxes that had collected in her living room in east Lawrence. Beside her were fellow nurses Maria Ilardi and Paula Westphal. The group was pouring bottles of aspirin and ibuprofen into plastic bags, taking antibacterial creams out of boxes and gathering latex gloves. Those medical supplies were about to go in a suitcase bound for Haiti.
As part of a six-member One Heart Ministries International mission team, Feltman has plans to arrive in Haiti on Tuesday. She will spend the next week in Carrefour, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince and one that has so far seen little aid.
The aspirin and ibuprofen will help those who have severe wounds, amputations and broken bones and no medication to soothe the pain.
“All we can do at this point is relieve as much suffering as possible and give them as much hope as we can,” Feltman said.
Feltman is prepared to survive off Clif bars and nuts, sleep on the ground under mosquito nets and be ready for the unexpected.
“I plan to do whatever it is that walks, rolls and crawls through the door,” she said. “Right now nurses are helping with amputations, sewing up wounds and setting broken bones.”
Feltman will be joined by five other nurses from the Kansas City area. Each team member can travel with one 70-pound bag and a carry-on. However, on the phone Saturday afternoon, Feltman was discussing plans to pay to carry on more bags.
The bag limit means Feltman’s own supplies — enough food to get her through the week, clothing, and a sleeping bag, flashlight, headlamp and water filtration bottle — have to fit in a backpack.
From a nursing conference in New Orleans last week, Feltman helped organize the mission and put out a request on Facebook for donations and medical supplies. By the time she arrived in Lawrence on Friday night, her living room was full of boxes.
Contributions came from employees who worked at LMH, Bert Nash and Health Care Access; members of her church; and family and friends.
Feltman, who is now a patient advocate at LMH, started working on medical relief missions in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. She has since gone on missions all over the world.
She uses vacation time and often her own money to go. Others inspired by her work help with donations.
“It’s not a trial or tribulation. It is something that I really find rewarding and something that I was made to do, why I was placed on the face of this earth,” she said.
As for all the supplies that won’t fit in Feltman’s suitcase this time around, she plans to make a return trip to Haiti soon.
“We know the need is going to last for a long time,” she said.