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L.A. medical team flies out to Haiti

January 16, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
A team of nine doctors and nurses from L.A. County Health Services and the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California left for Haiti Saturday to offer relief assistance following Tuesday's deadly earthquake.The team members took food, medical supplies, sleeping bags and some personal items to help get through the time they are in Port-au-Prince.

"It's with mixed feelings, I'm going with a heart and I'm very thankful to be able to seize this opportunity to help and serve," said Claudel Thamas, a registered nurse who is making the trip.

Thamas is a native Haitian and is going back to the country for the first time in 25 years. But the country that he remembers fondly is now in ruins.

The doctors are expected to mainly treat broken bones and infections.

"There is a hospital set up at the airport with operating room capabilities," said Ramon Cestero, who organized the team. "We hope to be able to go out in further areas where we are needed the most, but we're going to wait to see what is needed once we arrive."

The team is expected to spend a week in Haiti and will work with a team from the University of Miami and other nongovernmental agencies at the scene.

The doctors said they don't really know what to expect once they get there.

"We have pretty good experience on what trauma management is," said Cestero. "But from a mental standpoint, I'm not sure you can get ready for this until you get there."