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Elmira nurse killed in Haiti arrived 90 minutes before quake

ELMIRA, Ont. - Colleagues and friends of an Ontario nurse who died in the earthquake in Haiti are remembering her as a dedicated professional who knew and cared for the people in her small community.

ELMIRA, Ont. - Colleagues and friends of an Ontario nurse who died in the earthquake in Haiti are remembering her as a dedicated professional who knew and cared for the people in her small community.

Yvonne Martin of Elmira, Ont., was one of seven people who had arrived in Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince on Tuesday afternoon, about 90 minutes before the earthquake hit. The group was planning to provide medical care and support in several of the island nation's northern communities.

"She was very well integrated into the community and certainly in the office here, so the mood is just very sad and upsetting today," said Dr. Michael Norris at the Elmira Medical Clinic.

Martin retired a couple of years ago after 36 years at the Elmira clinic and started her humanitarian aid work, but was quick to help with the centre's H1N1 clinics last fall.

"We needed some extra hands because our nurses were busy with the clinic, and Yvonne was more than willing to come out of retirement and help us manage our H1N1 flu clinics," Norris said.

"The need was high, the demand was there and she was there. She still had a personal commitment to people's health."

Norris said the people at the clinic will miss Martin.

"She was a very professional nurse and wouldn't say 'no' if we asked her for help or to stay later, and really gave of herself," he said. "She was outwardly caring, interested, a real classic old-time nurse."

Martin turned to missionary work after formally retiring from the medical clinic and was on her fourth medical mission to Haiti, her church said Wednesday.

"It is with a heavy heart that I share with you the death of our dear sister, Yvonne Martin," read a statement posted by the Waterloo Mennonite Brethren Church.

"Yvonne passed away as a result of the earthquake in Haiti, where she had just arrived to do medical mission work for the fourth time."

Family friend Mark Booker said he grew up in the Martin house.

"She was like a mother to me," Booker said as he headed into the church Wednesday evening.

"It made her feel young again working around young people in Haiti," he said of Martin's missionary work in the Caribbean nation.

The Evangelical Church of Canada, the group behind the missionary work, said the workers had just settled into a guest house when the ground began to tremble and the shelter collapsed.

"We are deeply saddened by this loss, and wish to express our sincere sympathy to her family," the group's president Phil Delsaut said in the statement.

"We also extend our sympathy to the families of other foreign relief workers injured or missing and to the people of Haiti affected by this disaster."

A woman who answered the phone at the Waterloo church declined to comment, but the posting on the website said the church would be open for people to come and pray for Martin and for Haiti.

"Please continue to pray for her family, especially her husband Ron," the posting reads.

"In unity with them we are consoled to know that she died doing exactly what she loved to do."

Harold Albrecht, the Conservative MP for Kitchener-Conestoga, posted a notice on his website saying his thoughts and prayers are with the Martin family.

"Although I did not know Yvonne personally, there are ties between our extended families that go back many years," wrote Albrecht.

"Yvonne was in Haiti to help set up mobile clinics. This need still exists."

The federal government has announced $5 million in immediate humanitarian assistance for Haiti, noted Albrecht.