A physical therapist from The Gait Center in Richmond, Va., will put her skills to work this spring at an amputee clinic in Haiti. Kirstin Anderson, DPT, is volunteering in Haiti on behalf of Physicians for Peace (PFP), an international nonprofit that sends physical therapists to work with amputees and disabled patients at the Hanger Amputee Clinic at Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Deschapelles. Her mission is funded by a recent grant from ChildFund International in Richmond, Va.
“I’ve wanted to do something like this since I was 15 years old,” said Anderson, who was inspired as a teen by the medical volunteer work of family members. “It’s always been about finding the right time, and the right fit. I’ve been working at the Gait Center for a year now, and because many of our patients are amputees, that’s given me much more confidence in my abilities.”
At the clinic in Deschapelles, Anderson will work with a team of healthcare professionals, including prosthetists, to provide care to patients. While many of the patients lost a limb in the earthquake, others have been waiting for a prosthesis for years. In volunteering, Anderson is building on a long tradition of partnership between Physicians for Peace and The Gait Center. In 2000, David Lawrence, MSPT, ATC, the Center’s founder and president, helped create Walking Free, Physicians for Peace’s program for comprehensive amputee care.
“It’s a huge benefit to work with people who understand the importance of this volunteer work and the time requirement,” Anderson said. “ David’s given me flexibility to stay later or come in early to fit in my scheduled patients and get ahead – and our patients understand and are very supportive and excited.”
Physicians for Peace is a founding member of the Haitian Amputee Coalition, a confederation of organizations including Albert Schweitzer Hospital, the Hanger Ivan R. Sabel Foundation, the Catholic Medical Mission Board, the Harold and Kayrita Anderson Foundation and the Shepherd Center, among other groups. Between March and November 2010, PFP volunteer physical therapists contributed more than 1,700 hours of service to Haiti’s disabled population. In that time, they completed more than 1,300 patient visits and helped 635 amputee patients learn to “walk free” with new prosthetic limbs.
For more information on Physicians for Peace’s work in Haiti, please visit www.physiciansforpeace.org. For more information on the Gait Center and its locations in Richmond and Hampton Roads, please visit www.lawrencerehabilitation.com.
ABOUT PHYSICIANS FOR PEACE
Physicians for Peace is an international non-profit organization that mobilizes volunteer healthcare professionals to assist developing nations with unmet medical needs and scarce resources. Through effective, hands-on medical education and training, clinical care and donated medical supplies, Physicians for Peace develops long-term, sustainable, replicable, and evidence-based programs to help partner nations build medical capability and capacity to help themselves. Since 1989 Volunteers for the 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization have conducted medical missions in more than 60 countries. With its headquarters in Norfolk, Va., Physicians for Peace has programs in 22 countries and offices in Manila, the Philippines and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. In 2009, the organization celebrated its 20th Anniversary. For more information, go to: www.physiciansforpeace.org.