Canadian Medical Teams Helping Out in Haiti

Monthly Archives: May 2016

In Memoriam – Spencer McLean


Spencer McLean was an energetic and charismatic orthopedic resident who volunteered with Team Calgary in Port-au-Prince in 2013. Dr. McLean planned to return to Haiti but was diagnosed with an aggressive kidney cancer six months after his visit. He died only a few months after his diagnosis, during the same week that he finished his orthopedic-surgery residency. He was 36 years old.

Spencer was unable to return to Haiti but his involvement with Team Broken Earth didn’t end with his passing. His wife Christina Frangou joined Team Calgary on a trip to Port-au-Prince in November 2013. Eager to understand Spencer’s experience in Haiti and his motivation to participate in the organization, Christina travelled to Haiti in his place and was inspired to found a fellowship in his name. We remember Spencer with great fondness and with Christina’s support, we are honoring him through the first-ever Dr. Spencer McLean fellowship. This fellowship will support a Haitian orthopedic surgeon to come to Canada to observe, study and train within the Canadian health care system for two months.

In Memoriam – Carolyn Churchill


Carolyn Churchill was a dedicated nurse with a bright spirit and deep sense of empathy. She was one of Team Newfoundland’s first participants and she brought great joy to the team. Carolyn contributed immensely to the growth of Team Broken Earth in early days, participating in various fundraising initiatives, paddle boat races and community events. Carolyn’s beautiful personality and bright smile brought light to the patients of Port-au-Prince and she was deeply appreciated by both her Canadian and Haitian colleagues. Carolyn passed away at the age of 54 in September 2015. In this our first Newsletter, we pay tribute to Carolyn’s life, her dedication, her professional skill and her beautiful spirit and thank her family for sharing her with us and allowing Carolyn to become such an integral part of the Team Broken Earth family. We miss her dearly and we send our deepest condolences to her entire family, and especially her two sons, Tim and Mark.


Volunteer Spotlight – Dr. Ian Le

Dr. Ian Le is the Chief of the Division of Foot & Ankle Surgery at the University of Calgary and has been on three mission trips to Haiti with Team Broken Earth. Dr. Le was on his first trip in 2013 and subsequently led two of his own teams in 2014 and 2016. Dr. Le is a native Albertan who studied Medicine in Calgary and completed fellowships at Harbourview Medical Center (Seattle) and Duke University. On his first trip to Port-au-Prince, Dr. Le travelled with Christina Frangou, whose late husband Dr. Spencer McLean had been part of one of the first Alberta-based missions. He described the trip and experience getting to know Christina and hear about Spencer as “tremendously rewarding on a professional and personal level”.

Dr. Le is a quiet leader, someone whose style is rooted in respect, empathy, modesty and generosity of spirit. Dr. Le is a first generation Canadian, the son of parents who fled Vietnam in 1975 amidst war and chaos. Dr. Le carries with him a deep sense of gratitude and spirit of humanitarianism that is palpable to everyone around him. “When I visit Haiti, I see first-hand the power of education and the opportunity for Canadian medical professionals to support Haitians to advance the quality of care for their country”.

Dr. Le and his wife are the proud parents of three young children (8, 6, and 3), who, says Dr. Le, are the source of his motivation, the real reason he challenges himself each year to leave the comforts of home and contribute to people in need. “I just want to contribute in my own small way.” Dr. Le’s “own small way” makes a huge contribution to Team Broken Earth and to the patients he treats in Haiti.

On behalf of everyone at Broken Earth and the people of Haiti on whose behalf we act, thank you Dr. Le. We are lucky to have you on our team.

Healthcare 101: Education Update

In November 2015, a team of 10 went to Port-au-Prince and taught a 3-day course in trauma management and emergency medicine. 80 Haitian health care professionals attended the course. Feedback was incredible and surveys of participants suggest that over 80% of attendees will apply their learnings in local setting in future.

Building upon the success of this course, we are partnering with a hospital in Dhaka, Bangladesh, to deliver the same course in May 2016. We are anxious to see the uptake in Bangladesh and hope to find the same success as Port au Prince.

Also in May 2016, we are offering our second orthopaedic course in Port-au-Prince sponsored by Depuy Synthes. This course focuses on developing practical skill for orthopaedic surgeons and residents, through a workshop/laboratory setting, and will build upon skill training that was delivered in May 2014 to the same group of Haitian professionals. Feedback from past participants was extremely positive and the group was unanimous in requesting a follow up course in the future, so we are pleased to be able to fulfill this need.

Education is one of Team Broken Earth’s foundational objectives and we are thrilled to be advancing efforts in this area. Our Education Committee is chaired by Dr. Jeremy Pridham, one of Team Broken Earth’s founding members, and includes volunteers from various teams across the country.

Upcoming Missions:
Barrie, Vancouver, Vancouver Rural, Newfoundland

To Those Who Rocked the Rock Op, We Salute You!

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On January 30, 2016, Team Newfoundland held its annual fundraiser Rock Op for Haiti at the Geo Centre in St. John’s, Newfoundland. The event featured live entertainment by the Jim Cuddy Trio and food and drink prepared by award winning local chefs from Raymonds, Merchant Tavern, Mallard Cottage, Blue on Water, Tavola, Yellow Belly, and Red Oak.

We wish to thank all those who attended, volunteered, donated auction items, purchased auction items, and particularly our corporate sponsors M5, Newfoundland Power, Nalcor, Sequence Bio, Horizon OHS, Diamond Design, SkinFix and Haywards.

It was a hugely successful night and lots of fun had by everyone.

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