Palo Alto doctor assembles team to help Haiti | January 29, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - January 29, 2010

Palo Alto doctor assembles team to help Haiti

Schools rally with bake sales, shoe collections, a garage sale

by Chris Kenrick

He provided medical help following Hurricane Katrina and the wildfires in San Diego. Now, Palo Alto Medical Foundation physician Enoch Choi feels the call to Haiti.

Choi, a family physician in the foundation's Urgent Care Department, and nurse-practitioner Melinda Porter of Kaiser Permanente are in the midst of recruiting a French-speaking medical team of 10 to travel to Haiti from Feb. 15 to Feb. 21.

There, they will work in a clinic housed in a shipping container, which will be equipped to send digital diagnostic data to U.S.-based doctors, enabling them to assist with care.

It's a makeshift solution for makeshift times. Choi expects other medical volunteers will continue to staff the clinic after they leave.

So far they have four doctors and one nurse going on the trip.

Continuous Twitter and Facebook updates from people already in Haiti have made planning the trip much easier, Choi said.

"I've been following day by day how the security situation and everything else are changing there," he said.

Bake sales on nearly all Palo Alto school campuses have been held in support of the trip.

The trip's major sponsors are the Palo Alto-Menlo Park Parents Club, the Menlo Park Presbyterian Church and Mountain View's Abundant Life Christian Fellowship, Choi's home church.

"Although I am an evangelical Christian, my volunteer work is not limited to church missions, and this Haitian mission will provide medical relief regardless of the patient's religious background.

"Prayer will be offered on an opt-in basis," he said.

"I have a specific feeling that God is calling me to serve in Haiti because I have this past experience, I see a great need and God is giving me an enormous amount of support," Choi said. "Doors have been opening to give us a welcoming organization that's been there for generations, that's an indigenous, independent church."

The Haitian sponsor of the clinic is the Haitian Foursquare Church, which Choi said is independent of, and larger than, its U.S. denominational counterpart.

Choi is working with other organizations, including Telehelp and Jordan International Aid, to equip the shipping container and provide security, a constant concern for relief workers.

"My parents think it's too risky, but my brothers are supporters," Choi said. "They've done disaster relief work, too.

"My wife is concerned, but I wouldn't go unless it was safe to go, and we'd be protected."

Duveneck Elementary School mother Sara Woodham-Johnsson has been monitoring school bake sales and explaining Choi's effort to other parents.

"Some individual schools sprung into action immediately after the earthquake. In general, the different schools didn't know what was happening outside of their school.

"My goal was to raise awareness and get a movement started in Palo Alto. I thought it would be a testament to how Palo Alto rises to an occasion to help out in a tragedy," Woodham-Johnsson said.

Choi said he will take a week's vacation for the trip and noted that the medical foundation's parent company, Sutter Health, already has a team of 15 surgeons and one orthopedist in Haiti "doing surgery day and night."

Choi, a foundation employee since 2001, also is known locally as a frequent blogger on a variety of topics.

On Twitter, where he has 2,635 followers, he describes himself as "bio dad, hubby, doctor, electronic health record geek, volunteer, blogger, wine geek, foodie, Christian and karaoke warbler."

Staff Writer Chris Kenrick can be e-mailed at


Posted by Amy, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 29, 2010 at 9:53 am

Way to go Enoch. Proud to serve on the Palo Alto Community Fund board with you; let us know how we can help.

Posted by Enoch Choi, MD, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 29, 2010 at 10:25 am

We have 13 MD&RNs ready to go 2/15 to 2/21 and United just cancelled our charter flight in. If you have contacts that could fly us in, we could get much more supplies in with us compared to our backup: flying into Santo Domingo. Details you can give anyone with a plane:

2/15 - 2/21
13 MD & RNs from Silicon Valley
lots of supplies, so extra baggage allowance would be helpful
Receiving NGO: Four Square Gospel Church of Haiti
Sending NGO: Abundant Life Christian Fellowship & Palo Alto Menlo Park
Parents Club
On-the-ground-now Logistics in Haiti: and Jordan International Aid

you have my cell, feel free to give them my email and info on the trip at :
Web Link

Posted by Carroll Harrington, a resident of Community Center
on Jan 29, 2010 at 2:27 pm

ALERT: If any of you have connections with anyone who has a private plane, please contact Enoch at <>. Also contact him is you can't get on the Facebook page linked in his posting above. If you have seen the most recent reports from doctors in Haiti, e.g., The Doctors television show <Web Link;, you will see that the medical needs are overwhelming. They have videos posted on this website.

Posted by Mark, a resident of Stanford
on Jan 29, 2010 at 11:08 pm

Be safe out there Dr. Choi! Good luck!

Posted by Mil, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 1, 2010 at 2:59 pm

I commend Dr. Choi and the other physicians and nurses who are planning to go to Haiti. Though Haiti may no longer be under the radar following that devastating earthquake of January 12, the country is going to need a lot of volunteeers of all sorts for many years to come in order to bring some normalcy to the people. As a physician myself of Haitian ancestry, I am part of a group called Friends and Children of Haiti that will be working in partnership with the people of Haiti for the long haul. For anyone who has questions about volunteering in Haiti this summer or in the future, drop me an email:

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