Press Release

Skagit Valley Hospital Emergency Department nurses head to Haiti

Four nurses accustomed to treating the injuries and illnesses of patients in the Skagit Valley Hospital Emergency Department headed to earthquake-ravaged Haiti in early February to help treat those in need.

Kandi Devenere, RN, Brianna Knettle, RN, Christina Jepperson, RN and JoAnna Pattison, RN left on Feb. 4 on a Seattle flight bound for Fort Lauderdale, to be followed the next day with an early morning Air Force cargo flight into Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince with the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division.

The nurses will be joined by fire department medics from Cle Elum and Sequim to form Team 3 for the International Medical Assistance Team (IMAT) organization.

Medical professionals from across the United States have responded to assist Haitians in the wake of the massive earthquake that struck on Jan. 12.

The Haiti disaster has been on the mind of the Skagit Valley Hospital nurses since the day of the quake.

“We had been talking about it since it happened,” Pattison said. “Rendering aid is what we do. We have a calling to help people in need and these people have a great need.”

Jepperson went online and signed up to go to Haiti the day after the earthquake.

“I told my husband the next day,” she said. “There was never a question.”

Devenere said she was inspired when she saw a KING-TV report about a Western Washington medical team that just returned from Haiti.

“As this team formed, the timing was right,” she said.

Knettle officially joined the group just 24 hours before the planned departure with the support of her family.

The foursome express they are happy to go as a team and work together in the field. They also find relief in the security of being accompanied by the Army and living in tents as part of an impromptu compound formed on a golf course by the 82nd Airborne Division.

The nurses are paying their own way, taking water purifying equipment, tents and food, and jammed in any medical supplies they could purchase and find space for in their backpacks.
The group noted their sincere appreciation to their Emergency Department co-workers and Director Donna McCabe for allowing them to head out on this mission on short notice. Many fellow nurses stepped up to take on extra shifts while neighbors, family and friends are providing support on the home front.

“Everyone has been hugely supportive,” Pattison said.

While in Haiti, the group will attempt to provide updates via Facebook and noted that IMAT has a Facebook page and they are IMAT3 in Haiti through Feb. 13. Read IMAT's Facebook page here.