UCSF Provides Information on How to Help Haiti

A girl waits for medical attention in front of a damaged hospital in Carrefour, outside Port-au-Prince. Photo by Ariana Cubillos / AP

UCSF faculty, staff and students who are interested in volunteering for disaster response or offering support to the victims of Tuesday’s 7.0-magnitude earthquake in Haiti are encouraged to coordinate their plans with their respective hospitals, clinics, schools and departments.

UCSF will hold a town hall meeting on the situation in Haiti on Tuesday, Jan. 19, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in Health Sciences West, room 301.

“It is important to understand that getting emergency response teams and volunteers to Haiti is very difficult at this time,” says Christopher Jones, director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management at the UCSF Police Department.

Most disaster response organizations only send pre-qualified teams of volunteers who have already been trained as a team member and have had their licenses and credentials verified, says Jones, who has extensive experience responding to national emergencies. 

In fact, opportunities to volunteer for those who are not already a member of disaster response team are very limited during the initial weeks following a disaster.

“Aid organizations most desperately need money to support the teams they have sent in,” Jones says. “Generally they discourage donations of food, clothing and medicines due to the cost to sort though and inventory the items, ship the items, or dispose of unusable items.”

Those who are not already a volunteer with a disaster relief organization will most likely find their opportunity to volunteer after the initial disaster response when communications, roads, transportation and other basic infrastructure are partially restored, and when the first waves of organized disaster response teams need to be relived, Jones adds.

Below is a list of disaster aid organization websites.

“UCSF is not endorsing any specific organization; however we are trying to provide links to known or established organizations,” Jones says. “Please be aware of scam websites, which are often created to take advantage of the outpouring of donations. Make sure the organization you provide funds to is an established and reputable organization.”

Ways to Help via the Web

Organizations Seeking Volunteers

  • Partners in Health is seeking surgeons, nurses, and other medical personnel to help in Haiti. Those interested in volunteering, should send an email with information on credentials, language capabilities (Haitian Creole or French desired), availability, and contact information.
  • California Nurses Association (CNA) has put out a nationwide call for volunteer nurses to travel to the disaster zone. The CNA has asked hospitals to give nurses relief time, as well as donate medical supplies. Qualified nurses can sign up at the CNA website.

Here is other information for the UCSF community:

Haitian Creole Language & Health Care References

Travel Accident Insurance

Those electing to travel to Haiti as part an organized relief effort (even if not organized by UCSF) are covered at no cost under UC’s Business Travel Accident or Student Off-Campus Travel Accident Benefit, 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

This benefit covers emergency medical care and travel, political/security evacuation, repatriation, and many other related services.

Travelers receive an insurance card with access to an international toll-free 24-hour emergency hotline. For a summary of benefits, go here [PDF]

To register, and for more complete information visit the UCSF Risk Management and Insurance Services website

Registering a trip at the UC Office of the President website also connects members of the UCSF community to iJet, which enables travelers to receive Worldcue Travel Intelligence reports providing real-time, on-ine travel alerts regarding important disaster-related information. The iJet system knows where travelers are based on their itinerary and personal profile so that they can be reached if the emergency deepens. In addition, iJet experts monitor world conditions around the clock and will alert those registered in the system to new threats that may arise during their trip. For more information, go to UCSF Risk Management and Insurance Services website [PDF]  or call 415/476-3460.

CDC Travel Health

For UCSF personnel planning on traveling to Haiti, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has posted health and safety guidance at on its website.

Travel Immunizations

Information about travel immunization services available to UCSF staff and faculty is available on the Occupational Health Program website

and information for students is available on the Student Health website.

Related Link:

UCSF Activates Disaster Assistance Team, Holds Town Hall Following Earthquake in Haiti
UCSF Today, Jan. 14, 2010