Dr. Rena R. Amro, a Wellington resident, traveled to Freeport, Bahamas on a humanitarian medical mission on Sept. 5 only two days after Hurricane Dorian decimated the area.
Amro is an orthopaedic surgeon in West Palm Beach and the president of Palm Orthopaedic Institute. She and about 20 other physicians, in coordination with the Palm Beach County Medical Society, mobilized a humanitarian medical mission to Grand Bahama Island. They received only a few hours’ notice to leave on a cruise liner to the Bahamas that evening. Most of the doctors rescheduled patients and surgeries to head to the Bahamas on short notice to be part of this important humanitarian effort. About 30 support staff, including nurses, pharmacists and EMTs, accompanied the physician group.
The group led by Amro visited Rand Hospital and triaged and treated patients. The facilities had no electricity and were severely damaged from flooding. Doctors evaluated the patients under tents and in nearby churches.
Most of the physicians donated and brought medical supplies. They hand-carried bags full of casting supplies, gauze, bandages, sutures and medications to the hospitals and clinics. The doctors were transported on the back of pickup trucks around the island to different locations. Some accompanied members of Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue to assess and treat patients in the outskirts of the island. In some locations, the medical mission team were the first people that the Bahamians had seen since the hurricane.
At the port, the doctors helped Bahamians who were standing in line for hours to get on a ferry or cruise boat to leave the island. The elderly and children were passing out in line and were brought in for medical care. Many were suffering from heat exhaustion, and they had not had access to clean drinking water and food for days. The doctors fashioned a makeshift hospital on the boat to treat the Bahamians who were transported back to Palm Beach County. One patient had to be airlifted to University of Miami due to a heart attack and was treated by a cardiologist on board.
Weekly trips in coordination with other nonprofit groups and Celebration Cruise Lines have been organized for physicians and medical professionals to return to Grand Bahama Island to administer medical care and deliver supplies. Many of the physicians, including Amro, plan to return to the Bahamas on another mission in the near future. Anyone interested in donating supplies or time should contact Bahamas Mission Relief based on Clematis Avenue in West Palm Beach or contact Amro at the Palm Orthopaedic Institute at (561) 434-6796.