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Hospital employees collect 1,425 pounds of canned goods for Haiti

BRADENTON — Hospital employees pitched in again to help the Haitian relief effort, contributing 1,425 pounds of non-perishable canned goods to the cause Monday.

Workers at Manatee Memorial Hospital and its sister facility, Lakewood Ranch Medical Center, joined forces to help earthquake survivors, many of whom are without shelter and are starving.

“The same thing happened in my country in 1995,” explained Javier Bedoya, a native of Colombia, who helped to organize the food drive. “I like to help my brothers.”

Bedoya, supervisor for environmental services, loaded a dolly with a huge pile of supplies for workers to haul to the loading dock at the Bradenton Hospital, where the Rev. Jean-Claude Presendieu arrived with a truck.

Presendieu, who represents the Bethesda Haitian Evangelical Church, 3505 5th St. E., intends to ship the goods to Gonaives, Haiti, and then to the ravaged country’s shattered capital, Port au Prince.

Seeking help to fly the load to Haiti, he contacted ShelterBox USA, a Lakewood Ranch organization that has been sending shipping containers there since the earthquake hit.

Since its inception in 2000, ShelterBox has aided victims of disasters in more than 60 countries, according to its Web site,

Presendieu, asked about the welfare of his relatives in his native land, said his immediate family was all right, but that he had a close friend who had lost four of her children and her mother in the quake.

“We’re hearing a lot of families are being wiped out,” he said.

On Monday evening, Gov. Charlie Crist issued an executive order expediting licensing for out-of-state nurses after concluding the state might suffer a temporary shortage due to work in Haiti.

An initial check locally, however, found no problems so far.

“It’s not happening in my hospital,” said Chris Malloy, chief nursing officer at Manatee Memorial Hospital.