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A group of local doctors is heading to Haiti first thing Monday morning, a trip pulled together in five days — and a trip they’ve agreed to keep open-ended.

They’ll wait to see how bad things are, and how much help they can be, before booking tickets to come home.

“I’ve been in medicine 20 years so I’ve seen a lot of bad stuff — I haven’t seen a lot at the same time,” said Ron Chicoine, an anesthesiologist at St. Mary’s Anesthesia Associates.

“If there’s a lot of work, I’ll stay as long as I can and my (practice) will let me and I have supplies,” he said.

Dr. Cynthia DeSoi, who makes regular trips to Haiti and serves as medical director of a large orphanage outside Les Cayes, started getting a team together Tuesday to help survivors of that country’s devastating earthquake. She and Chicoine are going, along with Mona Theriault, a recovery room nurse at St. Mary’s; doctors Hector Rosquete and Stephen Katz, orthopedic surgeons at Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick; and Karmen Blackstone, an orthopedic nurse practitioner at Mid Coast.

Rosquete has made several mission trips to Honduras before.

“I called him up and asked if he would be willing to go and he jumped at the chance. He said, ‘My partner wants to go, too,'” DeSoi said. “My travel arrangements to get into Haiti are a little unusual so I didn’t want to bring a big group.”

On Monday, they’ll fly from Portland to Nassau, in the Bahamas. They hope on Tuesday to get a flight into Haiti through a Methodist mission group that recruits volunteer pilots and planes.

DeSoi said they’ll likely work out of a hospital overwhelmed with need in Les Cayes. The local doctors and nurses are paying their own way and taking supplies that they’ve bought and had donated.

DeSoi, a Lewiston kidney doctor, said she’ll help the group navigate and stay busy at Pwoje Espwa Sud (Project Hope South) orphanage, which this week agreed to take in 100 children from an orphanage that collapsed in the quake.

Pwoje Espwa, led by Lewiston native Father Marc Boisvert, already has 680 kids. About 140 miles away from Port-au-Prince, it didn’t sustain damage in the earthquake, but food and fuel have been hard to come by in the aftermath, DeSoi said.

Some of the new arrivals have broken bones; some are still in shock.

“I don’t know how long I’ll stay,” DeSoi said. “I have actually done something I’ve never done before and asked for an extended leave (from Nephrology Associates of Central Maine) because I don’t know.”

The rest of the group could stay as long as two weeks. She may be able to arrange for other teams of doctors and needed supplies once down there, she said.

“I almost think I’m going to feel better when I get there,” she said. “I haven’t been able to get the images out of my mind. I know that we will be able to help some people. The only way that I have ever been able to deal with Haiti — because if you try to think about fixing Haiti, it’s completely overwhelming, even before this — is that you just take one person at a time and do what you can.”

Chicoine took part in his first volunteer mission last spring, going to Honduras with Rosquete. There, people needed help, but “they didn’t just have a building fall on them,” he said.

He’s packing anesthesia, tubes, spinal needles, antibiotics, everything he can think of.

“I don’t know if I’ll have oxygen,” Chicoine said.

He got word Saturday that Racket & Fitness Center in Portland held a Rally for Haiti tennis fundraiser and was donating $1,500 toward even more supplies.

Chicoine said he feels like he has an idea of what to expect. He’s also heard the worry from family about going down there. He could face everything from malaria to riots.

“I know I can do good; that’s what’s going to help me through it, knowing that, overall, they’re going to be better off and I’m going to help some people. I hope I help a lot of people,” he said. “(My wife’s) a little concerned. She realizes there’s no way she could talk me out of it.”

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