Knox professor braves the heat to help in Haiti

Professor of Anthropology Jon Wagner and his wife traveled to Haiti to spend two weeks staffing a medical clinic.


Two local college instructors left the relative comforts of American life this summer to spend two weeks volunteering in the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere.

Jan Lundeen, a nursing instructor at Carl Sandburg College, and her husband Jon Wagner, professor of anthropology at Knox College, left for Haiti on July 8. The couple volunteered with the Friends of the Children of Haiti organization, which provides medical care to Haitian residents out of a clinic in Cyvadier, Haiti. This was Lundeen’s second year to volunteer with FOTCOH and Wagner’s first trip…..

Wagner and Lundeen joined a crew of three doctors, four nurses and other support staff, like Wagner, working with interpreters. A surgeon joined them during the second week of the clinic.

The participants stayed in the clinic, Wagner said, in modest dorm rooms. The crew woke before dawn most days and worked throughout the day in 100 degree temperatures.

“Exhaustion was the only reason we could sleep at night, it was so hot,” Wagner said.

While Lundeen spent her time caring for patients, Wagner stood outside the gates doing “crowd control.” Each morning, hundreds of Haitians stood in line outside the clinic waiting to be seen. Wagner was tasked with checking the crowd for urgent cases and distributing stickers to those who were allowed to be treated. Only about half of those at the gates were treated each day. Wagner said their clinic group served 2,600 people in less than 14 days.

“Some people that come to the clinic have walked for days,” Wagner said. “They camp outside and sleep on the ground.”

Read the full story in the Register-Mail.