Describing it as a calling and a sense of duty, Dr. Mitchell Schuster prepared Friday to travel to hurricane-damaged parts of Haiti, where more than 1,000 died during Matthew.
The Boca Raton physician, who has spent time in in Third World after several other natural disasters, plans to spend the next week delivering food, water and providing medical care to those in Haiti affected by Hurricane Matthew.
Schuster founded the Bicol Clinic Foundation, a charity that has provided medical care for impoverished patients in Haiti, Nepal and the Philippines. Last year he made trips to Nepal to assist with disaster relief efforts there after two earthquakes and their aftershocks killed more than 8,000 people.
“I understand in my life that I cannot attend every disaster,” Schuster said this week. “But I have committed myself to these three nations. There’s a certain feeling that I get when these disasters occur. … I feel that I have this sense of duty.”
During his trip, Schuster and his wife, Tess, will join a team of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and translators providing aid in Haiti. On Oct. 4, Matthew made landfall in southwestern Haiti as a Category 4 hurricane.
Schuster traveled to Haiti numerous times following the 2010 earthquake, which killed hundreds of thousands in the Caribbean nation. He will travel to the town of Paillant, about 70 miles west of the capital city of Port-au-Prince, and he anticipates there will also be challenging conditions this time around.
“We are expecting to have basic conditions of no electricity,” he said. “To protect against cholera, we’ll wear masks and gowns and gloves. (We’ll) have to deal with crowd control.”
Schuster, who practices family medicine in Boca Raton, said running a practice and a charity has been a challenge, but he notes that his patients locally have been supportive of his efforts.
“Most of my patients in Boca are sympathetic and many of them are supportive,” he said.