DALLAS — Nearly a week after their return from Haiti, a group of North Texas doctors, nurses and surgical technicians is planning another trip to the devastated island.
Most of medical team at Forest Park Medical Center in Dallas is back at work, including orthopedic surgeon Dr. Terry Madsen.
"It was good because it provided a distraction," Madsen said. "I like working, and my patients, they are all talking to me about it, so it's kind of my to way to relive it and wind down a little bit."
They are adjusting day by day after helping dozens of people at Sacred Heart Hospital in Port-au-Prince. They had back-to-back life-saving surgeries, and most were amputations. Every operation was heartbreaking.
"Amputating five-year-olds, that's not really uplifting," Dr. Madsen said. "It had to be done to save his life, but you don't leave that case and high-five the guy next to you."
For some team members, returning to Texas has been bittersweet. Everyday sights and noises sometimes trigger memories of their mercy mission.
"It's hard, because you can't get their faces out of their mind," said Amber Mays, Forest Park's Director of Surgical Services. "You hear a baby crying here and automatically you think of the baby that was crying there, left by themselves," she said.
Staffers can't stop thinking about the children who lost their homes and families. Their faces bring joy and concern.
"They were so appreciative even though they are in pain and you know that they are suffering. They were smiling," recalled Dr. Michael Stephan. "We just don't know what's going to happen to them. Are they going to have people who are going to take care of them?"
The team came home with a deeper appreciation for family and a renewed passion for work.
"I became a nurse for a reason," Mays said. "That helped show me that I made the right choice in becoming a nurse."
Plans to return to Haiti to offer follow-up care and prosthetic limbs are already in the works. The team wants to finish the job.
"If we are going to fix things, that's high-five stuff," Dr. Madsen said. "Fix someone and watch them walk away — that will feel really good."
Only then will their mission be complete.