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Medical team departs on Haiti mission Wednesday
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RIPON — The Ripon medical team that had its mission to Haiti canceled in mid-January due to a lack of jet fuel at a Dominican Republic airport is finally going to leave for the earthquake ravaged area on Thursday.

Dr. Kent Hufford, two of his staff members, and the director of nurses from Bethany Home expect to spend a week working to relieve the miseries caused by  the massive 7.0 quake that hit Port-au-Prince in early January.

Hufford’s office medical assistants going with him are sisters Sarah and Melissa Tye along with registered nurse Gaya Forest from the skilled nursing facility located just across the street from his practice where he also serves as a staff physician.

The Ripon medical team is going to be working under the auspices of the International Faith Missions – an effort in need of community donations from supportive Ripon residents.

The first attempt to render medical aid in the Haitian capital had been through Operation Double Harvest that has long served as a medical mission in Haiti.  Their trip was called off just a day before they were scheduled to leave San Francisco.  They had been scheduled to fly to Florida and on to the Dominican Republic with a hop over to Port-au-Prince in an Army helicopter.

Their goal is to evaluate and treat as many patients as possible throughout their week’s stay.  

Andrew Lee, Bethany’s general manager, said that it’s still going to be an intense experience for every member of the team.  He added that the Bethany Home staff family is excited to stand behind their director of nurses and the other team members as well.

“We’re so proud.  They all have a heart for mission,” said Barbara Camping, director of the skilled nursing facility.  When asked whether her director of nurses could have the week off, her response was: “Absolutely, you go!”

Dr. Hufford and his partner Dr. Daryl Dutter have been involved in several medical mission efforts in the past that took them to Third World countries.

And, Gaya Forrest’s family has put their hearts in missions as well.  Daughter and high school teacher June Forrest is currently in Argentina where she is attending language school.  Husband Greg has spent mission time in Cambodia about five years ago.

Bethany’s director of nurses began her career at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto some 30 years ago where she assisted in the births of countless babies.