Elderly Haitians Receiving Makeshift Assistance

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Among the hardest-hit victims of the Haitian earthquake in January were elderly residents of Port-au-Prince, but conditions are improving for individuals at one nursing home.

HelpAge International took over management of the Municipal Nursing Home for the Haitian government and will run the facility for the next six months. Jonathan Barden, an emergency response team leader for the group, said February 24 that the London-based aid organization would pay 75% of the salaries for the home’s approximately 40 employees, while the Haitian government will pay the rest.

Six residents of the nursing home were killed in the earthquake and two more died later of hunger and exhaustion. In the days following the disaster, the home’s residents were left with little food, water or medicine and had to sleep in the dirt among rats. Eventually, an engineer found the building’s foundation stable enough for residents to reoccupy, Barden said, and no further deaths or urgent health problems have been reported.

For the time being, a Haitian gang is providing security for elderly residents of the Municipal Nursing Home after a massive earthquake shook Port-Au-Prince in January. The improvised guards asked for flashlights and pistols to do their jobs, Barden said, but few other details of the arrangement have been made public.

Still, conditions remain poor at the elderly care center, located in the middle of a makeshift tent community of more than 2,000 people. Elderly women have been bathing in public, and many residents were recently seen taking naps outside on the ground or in their wheelchairs.