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Westchester's Hands Up For Haiti Provides Education, Awareness

Dr. Roma Bhuta, pediatric resident at Goryeb Childrens Hospital Morristown, N.J., examines a child. Photo Credit: Audrey DeWys
Nurse Alicia Benton, who works at Mount Kisco Medical Group, talks with a young child. Photo Credit: Audrey DeWys
Dr. Ann Engelland helps out pharmacist Thermitus Jean. Photo Credit: Audrey DeWys
Dr. Roma Bhuta feeds a young child. Photo Credit: Audrey DeWys
Dr. Katherine Hough, pediatrician at Pediatrics on Hudson, in Hastings-On-Hudson examines a baby. Photo Credit: Mary Ann LoFrumento
Nurse Judy McAvoy of Mount Kisco Medical Group pediatrics examines a baby. Photo Credit: Audrey DeWys

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Hands Up For Haiti, a growing nonprofit centered in Northern Westchester, is raising awareness about the problems in Haiti through funded medical missions and host volunteers to provide education to Haitian counterparts.

The organization was founded by Dr. Jill Ratner, a Goldens Bridge resident. She has served as chief of pediatrics and on many leadership committees at Northern Westchester Hospital and at the Mount Kisco Medical Group. She and a team visited Haiti and felt compelled to make a difference in a country that was in need of healthcare, sanitation and education.

"Many people who have traveled say you can leave Haiti, but it never leaves you -- people are so appreciative of the things we take for granted here," Ratner said. "It's truly an enriching experience for both the teams that travel and the people of Haiti."

Hands Up For Haiti is an open organization that provides hands-on training for nutrition, sexual education, family planning and provides community-style lectures featuring pamphlets and posters to help people understand and learn visually.

One of its programs, Helping Babies Breathe, put forth by the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics, teaches Haitian counterparts newborn resuscitation and how to help babies breathe at birth. Volunteers teach residents of Haiti how to stimulate babies appropriately, how to use a resuscitator and how to suction babies.

Volunteers who travel abroad to Haiti are mostly medical professionals. However, the organization seeks students and non-medical professionals to help with the mission as well.

In the future, Hands Up For Haiti hopes to improve perinatal care, increase access to care during pregnancy, improve access and knowledge of feeding and taking care of babies to decrease infant mortality.

For more information on Hands Up For Haiti and to get involved with its mission, visit www.handsupforhaiti.org.

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