"I thought you'd be over in Haiti," a patient said when I walked into her room.

A pang of guilt hit me as I explained that I can't leave work for long without risking not meeting payroll.  It's a true fact about being in private practice: I am the commodity I sell, so my absence brings nearly all revenue to a halt.  Given the tight margins in primary care, that makes any day off be accompanied by the that hovering fact.

That sounds uncomfortably like rationalization.  Am I sitting comfortably here in America making excuses for my inaction?  A large part of me wants to help, but then there is my staff, my patients, my family - all of whom depend on me being at my job.  I feel tied by my responsibility and the needs here, but then I see the needs in places like Haiti, and it makes me ponder.  It makes me feel uneasy.

Maybe a conscience in this circumstance is OK.  Maybe it's OK to feel powerless when I look at TV.  It's fine that I am doing what I do now, and I need to be committed to first helping and serving those who are in front of me, but I shouldn't ever forget that there is more.  We can help by sending money and prayers, but should always be looking for more we can do.  One of my greatest fears is that my comfort will turn into a sense of entitlement of the things I have gotten.  Pictures of Haiti remind me that much of what I have stems simply from the fact of where I was born.

So, my attention was piqued when I got the following email:

Dear Rob

International Medical Corps is a global, humanitarian, nonprofit organization, founded by volunteer doctors and nurses and dedicated to saving lives and relieving suffering through relief and development programs. Our emergency response team is in Haiti responding in force and I would like to ask for your help to get the word out to the readers of Musings of a Distractible Mind. There are still thousands of patients seeking treatment of which approximately 80% are in need of surgery and are running out of time - especially with the tremendous aftershocks still devastating this country. The team is treating crush injuries, trauma, substantial wound care, shock and other critical cases with the few available supplies - And they're in it for the long haul.  I would love your help spreading the word by blogging or tweeting about IMC's rescue efforts. We've put up a blogger friendly widget here on our site:

http://www.imcworldwide.org/haiti

With the widget it's really easy to let your readers know that donating $10 to help the people of Haiti is as simple as sending a text message of the word "haiti" to 85944. If you have any questions just let me know and I will do my best to help you out. If you are able to post the widget or tweet, I would appreciate it if you could send me the link.

Thanks so much,

Ellie

Here is some information from their website:

International Medical Corps is a global, humanitarian, nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives and relieving suffering through health care training and relief and development programs. Established in 1984 by volunteer doctors and nurses, International Medical Corps is a private, voluntary, nonpolitical, nonsectarian organization. Its mission is to improve the quality of life through health interventions and related activities that build local capacity in underserved communities worldwide. By offering training and health care to local populations and medical assistance to people at highest risk, and with the flexibility to respond rapidly to emergency situations, International Medical Corps rehabilitates devastated health care systems and helps bring them back to self-reliance.

International Medical Corps has gone on to provide life-saving care in more than 45 countries worldwide, responding to nearly every emergency in the last two decades. It deploys quickly in emergencies and then stays on to teach life-saving skills so that people locally can become self-reliant. Its training assures continuity and a new level of care for those impacted by conflict, tragedy and extreme poverty.

Over the years, International Medical Corps has responded to the world’s most devastating man-made and natural disasters, including famine in Somalia, ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, the Rwandan genocide, and atrocities against children in Sierra Leone. More recently, International Medical Corps was a first responder after the 2004 tsunami in southeast Asia, the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan, responded domestically following Hurricane Katrina, and is among the dwindling number of humanitarian agencies still working in Darfur and Iraq.

What I like about this is that this is a group of medical people providing relief.  These are people who can give care in the first person.

No organization is perfect, and no amount of giving on our part will fix the pain in Haiti.  But I think the medical blogging community should consider standing behind this organization.  If you have a blog, put the widget on your site.  Grab the one on the top of my sidebar.

And give what you can, but not to assuage your guilty conscience.  If your conscience is that easy to assuage, then you probably need to think a little more about your situation and that of these people.  It's not wrong for us to have what we do, but it does give us a responsibility.

Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required (Luke 12:48)

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