Boarding Mixup Grounds Medical Mission To Haiti
Dozens of doctors who were prepared to fly on a medical mission to Haiti Saturday night ended up being stranded at JFK Airport. NY1's Natasha Ghoneim filed the following report.
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A plane chartered Saturday by members of the Church of Scientology was supposed to bring a group of volunteers to Haiti via JFK Airport. Yet, due to a chaotic boarding process, about 70 doctors, nurses and translators were left behind.
"I think they're doing a good thing. But it wasn't done right today and people have died in Haiti because of it," said volunteer Jake Bevilacqua.
"They need to help us get these pain medications and equipment and antibiotics to the people who are dying, literally," said volunteer Doreen Evans.
Doctors and nurses from as far away as Brazil arrived at JFK Saturday morning with thousands of dollars worth of medicine and medical equipment. They say they were confirmed on the Church of Scientology flight, but during the boarding process they say the passenger manifest was misplaced.
A total of 119 people boarded then the doors of the plane closed, leaving about 70 people behind. The church was worried
the plane would miss its landing slot in Haiti, but the volunteers complained the plane sat at the gate for at least another hour.
"We had people coming late. We had people whose names weren't on the manifest. Maybe the administration was not exactly correct. Maybe we should focus on the 119 people who were on that plane and did get down to Haiti," said John Carmichael of the Church of Scientology.
Carmichael says this was the church's third flight to Haiti. Last Sunday, they flew down members of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Volunteer Ambulance Corps and Haitian doctors from the New York area.
"We're going to work on this to the best of our ability to come to a solution and make sure they get their chance," Carmichael said.
The volunteers are just hoping their good intentions materialize into desperately needed good deeds for the people of Haiti.
"We arranged everything in our lives to go down. We know ghat the need is great. We want to be helping and it's frustrating not to be able to get there," Bevilacqua said.
A big concern is what will happen to the thousands of dollars of donated medical equipment and medicine that made it onto the plane without the doctors who supplied them.
Volunteers say they are worried that if they are not in Haiti to claim them, they will get lost, stolen or go to waste. One nurse NY1 spoke to says he's been able to hitch a flight down to Haiti with another relief organization. The others say they're praying they can do the same.