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Dateline Follows LSU's Handrich Assisting Daring Haitian Medical Mission

Mitch Handrich, RN, (right) waiting to parachute into Haiti.

New Orleans The NBC news program "Dateline" will feature Mitch Handrich, RN, an MICU staff nurse at the Interim LSU Public Hospital (ILH), as part of a volunteer medical group that parachuted and hiked to two remote mountainous villages in Haiti that are still suffering from the devastating earthquake of a year ago.

Handrich learned to parachute for this mission.

The story airs this Sunday, January 9, at 6 p.m.

Handrich was part of a team that included three doctors, three registered nurses, three nurse practitioners, an ophthalmologist, a dentist and a veterinarian for villagers' animals.

A "Dateline" cameraman shot footage of Handrich at the ILH on December 2, capturing him in his day-to-day responsibilities to help put him in context for the program.

The American nonprofit organization, Remote Area Medical, developed a complex plan to reach Medor and Zoranger, which has a combined population of 40,000, all nearly cut off from the rest of the world since the earthquake.

Zoranger has no clean water supply except for rain catchments, so villagers, many of them barefoot, walk down a mountain trail daily and carry water back, balancing enormous loads on their heads, said Stan Brock, RAM mission director, in an email.

"I watched one young woman with a deformity in her hip, carrying a load on her head, a walking stick in one hand, and she had to swing her leg out to the side with every step while climbing the mountain," he said.

Now there is a new urgency to reach the people. In Medor, cholera is a rampant killer, he said.

A Catholic nun reports that medical emergencies routinely occur, he said. "While we were there a 10 year old boy accidentally chopped off a finger with a machete. The sister patched him up, but he was faced with a seven hour trek on foot down the mountain with his distraught mother."

See the Dateline story at here.