U.S. resuming airlift of injured Haitians

Jan. 31, 2010 at 7:52 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- The White House said Sunday it is resuming a U.S. military airlift carrying seriously injured Haitian earthquake victims to American hospitals.

"Having received assurances that additional capacity exists both here and among our international partners, we determined that we can resume these critical flights," White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement.

The flights, which have taken hundreds of severely injured patients to Florida, had been suspended since Wednesday after Florida Gov. Charlie Crist told Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius "Florida's healthcare system is quickly reaching saturation, especially in the area of high-level trauma care," The New York Times reported.

Crist asked the federal government to activate a national emergency program that helps states pay for the medical costs of major disasters. It was not immediately clear if Haiti qualified for the program, CNN said.

Miami surgeon Barth Green said dozens of major U.S. hospitals have offered to take Haitian patients, The Miami Herald reported.

"We have hospitals waiting to receive them. But at the highest level of the U.S. government, they can't seem to get them out," said Green, head of neurological surgery at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine.

Green estimated 100 of his "sickest of the sickest" patients in Port-au-Prince would die if they were not immediately transported out of Haiti.

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