Doctor to accompany LDS relief to Haiti

Utah businesses and residents open their wallets wide to help

Published: Saturday, Jan. 16 2010 12:00 a.m. MST

Dr. Jeff Randle will be on board when a plane loaded with supplies for a humanitarian mission of the LDS Church takes off for Haiti, most likely on Sunday. His determination to help has been matched by a huge outpouring of relief from Utahns.

The rehabilitation specialist founded Healing Hands for Haiti more than 12 years ago after seeing the poverty and lack of rehab services for Haitians with disabilities when he was on an LDS mission. He'd made up his mind to bring rehab to the island country and over the course of years, relying heavily on volunteers and donations, mostly from Utahns, he did just that.

Thursday, he learned that only the guesthouse in the compound owned by the charity he founded still stands. It's possible, he told the Deseret News Friday, that at least some of those traveling with the LDS Church will stay there.

It's also possible, though, that he won't make it to the compound himself, he admitted. The roads are still largely impassable and he's not sure what to expect. And much as he'd like to see the clinic he established, his purpose in going, along with the other doctors, is to help those who are suffering in the earthquake's aftermath.

A representative of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who is serving in Santa Domingo plans to leave very early Saturday and make his way to the Port-au-Prince area to "get things going for us," Randle said.

Another of Randle's physician colleagues, affiliated with Healing Hands for Haiti in Canada, will travel there at the same time with Handicapped International to help triage the injured and see who perhaps needs to be transported off the island for treatment.

"I hope to help do some of that, as well," Randle said. He added that he expects to provide suturing, first aid and other immediate-care services to the injured.

Trauma surgeon Dr. Ray Price of Intermountain Medical Center will be on board, as well, along with other physicians with different specialties, including an emergency room doctor.

Meanwhile, Susan Gleason Pierre-Louis met with Haitian students who are trying to organize relief and find ways to locate relatives across the divide between Utah and Haiti. This weekend, Pierre-Louis, a Salt Lake woman who for years served as a program director for Healing Hands and who married a Haitian, has also been asked to meet with returned LDS missionaries who over the years served in Haiti so they can come up with some type of long-term plan to help the devastated and impoverished country.

Many of the returned missionaries, she said, are now successful businessmen and they're all looking at ways they can make a real difference to Haiti's recovery and future over the long haul.

Local businesses are pitching in any way they can. Channel 2, KUTV, held a telethon Friday beginning at 6 a.m. and running until 11 p.m. At 8 p.m., the station had raised $350,000 to be donated to the American Red Cross and expected to reach $400,000 by the end of the telethon.

"We've had large corporate donors," said Steve Carlston, KUTV general manager. "We've received $100,000 from Wells Fargo and substantial contributions from APX Alarm and NuSkin. The outpouring of support has been thrilling and just quite humbling to see how people have reached into their pockets. We've received donations as low as $2, all the way up to the $100,000 corporate sponsor. We've also received tremendous support from the Utah Jazz, Real Salt Lake, Salt Lake Bees and Utah Grizzlies, Wells Fargo employees and the Salvation Army."

Donations came from Idaho and Arizona, and as far east as Indiana where a woman read about the telethon on Facebook and donated $200.

"The people in this station, as a station family, felt the need to help this country that is just devastated and then the people of Utah just reached deep into their pockets," Carlston said. "When people give back from the community, it's very heartwarming."

For every lift ticket sold Saturday, Jan. 16, Brighton Resort will donate $1 to Healing Hands for Haiti. Guests at the resort will have the opportunity to match those donations.

Rio Tinto, the international mining company, has donated $250,000 to the Canadian Red Cross.

Employees of Denver-based Qwest Communications International Inc. have donated $40,000 to United Way. Qwest agreed to match those funds, bringing the total donation to $80,000.

Alliant Techsystems is encouraging its employees, many based in Utah, to donate to the American Red Cross International Relief Fund. For every dollar donated by Feb. 1, Alliant Techsystems will match, up to $50,000.

e-mail: lois@desnews.com. Contributing: Emily James, Laura Hancock

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