Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Look Back

Peoria Journal Star

August 14, 2003

Haitian Hearts will continue its program -- Patients will be treated in the U.S. and elsewhere

PEORIA - Haitian Hearts will continue to bring heart patients from Haiti for treatment at hospitals in the U.S. and perhaps elsewhere, its founder, Dr. John Carroll said Wednesday.

Carroll returned last week from Haiti where he arranged for two adult patients to be treated in the U.S. One is scheduled to receive a pacemaker at St. John's Hospital in Springfield, he said, and the other is to have heart valve surgery at a Jacksonville, Fla., hospital.

In July, OSF Healthcare System and the Catholic Diocese of Peoria announced they would no longer participate in the Haitian Hearts program.

Haitian Hearts has brought nearly 100 Haitians, mainly children, from Haiti to Peoria for medical treatment, mostly heart surgery at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center.

On Tuesday, the last Haitian child in Peoria, a 10-year-old girl who has been in the U.S. since last year, received heart surgery at St. Francis, a follow-up to earlier surgery. Carroll said the surgery went well.

Doctors, nurses and others who have cared for this child and other Haitians have expressed regret that the program is ending in Peoria, Carroll said. Some have donated their time and materials, and even offered to care for Haitian children in their homes while they recovered, he said.

Carroll said he now is working with others interested in Haiti, including the Mercy and Sharing Foundation, founded by philanthropist Susan Scott Krabacher. The organization operates an orphanage and medical center in Haiti. Its Web site is

Carroll said he hopes that up to 20 children soon will be placed in hospitals in the U.S., Canada and Europe for surgery. He has identified 38 who need surgery. A 19-year-old died while on the waiting list, he said.

Since December, St. Francis has refused to approve any visas for medical care for Haitian Hearts patients.

St. Francis fired Carroll in December 2001 from his job of 21 years as an emergency room physician after a dispute with hospital managers.

Looking back from today, February 15, 2009:

1. Many Haitian Hearts patients in Haiti have died since this article was published. Two young men that were operated at OSF, but were denied care at OSF when they needed heart surgery again, have died too. Haitian Hearts has been able to get a few OSF Haitian Hearts patients operated in different medical centers, and all have done well, but they wouldn't have if it were up to OSF. All Haitian Hearts patients are still being refused at OSF.

2. Bishop Daniel Jenky and the The Catholic Diocese of Peoria had one 45 minute meeting with Haitian Hearts in February, 2003. There were no other Haitian Hearts meetings with Bishop Jenky. Ever. When my brother asked Bishop Jenky at this single meeting if I could go to Haiti and bring back five sick Haitian kids to OSF for heart surgery, he replied no.

Yet, two weeks later in his office with Patricia Gibson (Diocesan Chancellor and Canon Law Lawyer) present, Bishop Jenky told me that I needed to go to Confession to him in one year if I petitioned for a Catholic Tribunal Court against OSF. He was holding me responsible for any Haitian deaths that occurred in this time period. My education how the Diocese acted behind closed doors was "up close and personal". I left the Chancery in disbelief.

3. Since this article, Haitian Hearts has personally brought or consulted in approximately 150 Haitians who have come to the United States for surgery. Most have been children. Most have had heart surgery.

4. And my "dispute with hospital managers" noted above, included overcrowding in the OSF Emergency Department. No one who worked there at the time would have disputed this.

Since this article was written, OSF has admitted in the Journal Star that the OSF-ER was dramatically overburdened. Work on a new ER has started as part of the one-half billion dollar OSF Milestone Project and an Observation Unit for ER patients was started several years ago.

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