Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

15 young Haiti earthquake survivors settle into Tampa Bay area hospitals

TAMPA — They were all survivors, the 15 Haitian patients who arrived in the Tampa Bay area on Tuesday evening with infected burns, spinal cord injuries, fractured bones and other injuries.

Ranging in age from 4 to 24 years, many had survived days without medical attention before getting treatment at a U.S. military operation there. After it became inundated, they were transferred to Tampa.

"They are amazing. These are very badly injured patients and they have survived two weeks, so these are people who are very strong," said Dr. Cathy Carrubba, Hillsborough County's medical mass casualty director. She said many patients were smiling upon arrival.

"This is a group of people that was very grateful for some civilization at the other end of their journey," said Carrubba, an emergency physician at Tampa General Hospital.

While their injuries do not appear to be life-threatening, she said, many have extensive medical needs. Some should recover fully, while others will require long-term care.

Tampa International Airport got a second flight of 22 critically injured Haitian evacuees Wednesday night. Officials prepared patients to go to local hospitals, just as they did Tuesday night. Ten patients were children, said Kelly Figley, a spokeswoman for the airport.

Florida hospitals have taken a total of 436 people, according to the Florida Department of Health. The majority — 361 — were treated in South Florida.

Jackson Health System spokesman Robert Alonso told the Miami Herald on Wednesday that the health services region covering Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties "has reached surge capacity and is no longer accepting medical patients from Haiti."

Tampa General, which has a specialized burn center, treated nine. Four were sent to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa. Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg and University Community Hospital in Hillsborough County each got one.

Two injured U.S. service members on the flight went to the James A. Haley VA Medical Center in Tampa.

The Haitian evacuees at Tampa General have settled into patient rooms, many in intensive care. The young children came with adult caretakers; it was not clear if any are orphans.

Throughout the night, they shared their experiences in French and Creole with the Rev. Celillon Alteme, a native of Haiti who works in pastoral care at Tampa General.

A teenager, who was found buried in rubble, said he was afraid to be inside the hospital building because anything can happen to it.

A man who had stopped for gas when the earthquake struck described the agonizing screams of his wife and others when no one came to treat their burned skin.

A young boy told his translator simply that he was hungry.

"They wonder after the treatment where they are going. That's the question they are asking," Alteme said. "I told them I don't know yet."

Letitia Stein can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3322. For more health news, visit

15 young Haiti earthquake survivors settle into Tampa Bay area hospitals 01/27/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 27, 2010 11:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Mother's testimony about toddler's death brings judge to tears


    TAMPA — Nayashia Williams woke up early on May 7, 2014, to the sound of her daughter calling for her. It was the last time the young mother's mornings would begin with a summons from Myla Presley, who couldn't yet climb over the mesh fencing around the playpen she used as a bed.

    Deandre Gilmore looks towards the gallery Tuesday in a Tampa courtroom. Gilmore is accused of killing the 19 month-old daughter of his girlfriend in 2014. He said the child fell while he was giving her a bath. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  2. Speakers: Getting tough can't be only response to teen car thefts


    ST. PETERSBURG — Bob Dillinger remembers coming to Pinellas County as a legal intern in 1975. There were five major poverty zones in St. Petersburg.

    Wengay Newton, Florida House of Representatives (in front, in center), talks as a panelist to a packed room during a community forum on "Reclaiming our Youth: Is Juvenile Justice a Reality?" at the Dr. Carter G. Woodson Museum in St. Petersburg Wednesday evening (10/17/17). The event was presented by the Fred G. Minnis, Sr. Bar Association. Community leaders discussed the ongoing auto theft epidemic among Pinellas youth.
  3. Internal White House documents allege manufacturing decline increases abortions, infertility and spousal abuse


    White House officials working on trade policy were alarmed last month when a top adviser to President Donald Trump circulated a two-page document that alleged a weakened manufacturing sector leads to an increase in abortion, spousal abuse, divorce and infertility, two people familiar with the matter told the …

  4. Black entrepreneur says city stiffing him on project after he endorsed Rick Baker


    ST. PETERSBURG — A prominent African-American resident says his endorsement of mayoral candidate Rick Baker has led city officials to freeze him out of a major construction project along the historic "Deuces" stretch of 22nd Street S.