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Among those who were fortunate to survive the devastating earthquake of January 2010 were patients at the State University Hospital of Haiti, who were quickly evacuated to tents donated by various organizations. With doctors and nurses flown in to assist in the relief effort, the hospital was soon back up and running, providing basic medical care and performing some surgical procedures. But the facility was still operating without reliable communications to the outside world, which was critical to enable more in-depth care and consultation with outside medical experts.
Enter Eagles Wings Foundation, a Florida-based non-profit agency, which quickly went to work with several other organizations and soon equipped the hospital with broadband Internet access and Voice over IP (VoIP) capability via a Hughes emergency communications satellite system. To this day, the facility continues to use the Hughes telemedicine solution, enabling consultation with specialists around the world and improving the quantity and quality of medical care to its patients.
Established in 1999 after the damage wrought by Hurricane Floyd along the Atlantic coast of the U.S., Eagles Wings Foundation provides short-term, post-disaster relief, organizational leadership, and coordination of volunteer and professional personnel and services in the U.S. and the Caribbean Basin.
Dr. Alex Lassegne, executive director of the hospital, commended the organization’s Haitian relief activities, including its efforts to coordinate and install Hughes satellite technology, “The activation of the satellite [service] will provide communications capabilities that will allow the hospital to provide better care for our patients. Most immediately, it will afford us capability of consulting with other medical experts worldwide.”
Meanwhile, about 15 kilometers east of Port-au-Prince, Mountain Top Ministries, a Haiti-based agency that works closely with Eagles Wings Foundation, was struggling with intermittent communications from its remote location in Tomassin. But with the help of a Hughes satellite broadband system, the non-profit organization is now better able to operate its 1,500-student school and free clinic, as well as provide housing for volunteers aiding the earthquake relief effort.
Mountain Top Ministries assists the people of Haiti by conducting spiritual education, providing quality medical care, and training Haitian ministers. The organization also runs an agricultural training program for local farmers.
Satellite communications plays a critical role in the lives of people affected by disasters such as the one in Haiti. “Because it is robust and easily deployed, satellite technology quickly fills the void and provides instant infrastructure when terrestrial systems have been severely damaged,” said Tony Bardo, assistant vice president of government services at Hughes. “As long as there is a power source, a satellite system can be set up in a matter of hours, restoring communications when it is needed most and serving as a vital tool to assist the organizations that are directly involved in recovery after a disaster.