Retirement in Haiti

This Pharmacy alumnus spends his retirement on the ground helping Haitians

After the earthquake that devastated Haiti in January, Ed Monroe, PH’63, worked diligently to procure and provide aid to those affected by the destruction. Then as soon as he could, Monroe got on a plane. He arrived in Haiti in mid-March and provided medical care to hundreds of patients every day during his two week stay.

For Monroe, this is nothing new.

The Drake alumnus has spent his retirement traveling to Haiti on medical missions, providing life saving treatment and pharmaceutical expertise to residents of one of the most impoverished nations in the western world through Friends of the Children of Haiti (FOTCOH). The organization has brought health care professionals to Haiti on medical missions for more than 25 years.

FOTCOH sponsors medical missions to Haiti six times per year. Each 12-day mission brings more than 20 doctors, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, physical therapists and other volunteers to the clinic.

A mission to serve

“Our clinic suffered only minor damage from the earthquake,” says Monroe, “but the hotel nearby was not as lucky. The main dining area and kitchen collapsed, as did several hotel rooms. The walls of the neighboring school cracked.”

The clinic is located in the town of Cyvadier and serves communities located in southern Haiti, including the town of Jacmel.

“Cyvadier sustained a little damage, but Jacmel is in ruins,” Monroe says. “At least 3,000 people from Jacmel were killed in the earthquake, and their bodies have been buried in a mass grave. The main hospital is rubble, as is the downtown area.”

“Every trip, we see more than 2,500 patients at the clinic and dispense more than $40,000 worth of medications and supplies,” Monroe adds. “Our organization is funded entirely by donations. Our volunteers pay their own way to go on the mission trips.”

Global perspective

Monroe credits his experiences at Drake with making him aware of international issues, while his professional life in pharmacy taught him to serve people.

“When I graduated from Drake University, I had no idea that I would end up practicing pharmacy in a third world country,” Monroe says. “I thank Drake for a wonderful well-rounded education.”

Monroe is in contact with other Drake alumni who are committed to Haitian aid, including pharmacists Tom Rickey, PH’68; Gary Alwan, PH’76; and physician Wendy Van Ittersum, AS’99.

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