Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti

Saving Lives, Changing Lives

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Throughout the day more vehicles arrive, more people seeking care.

Two school buses filled with patients just came to the door. We sent to St. Marc to buy a dozen more beds and mattresses in the market.

We are all exhausted - I haven't left the hospital for two days except to take a shower and change. And I have been lucky -others have just stayed through, like Toussaint.

All for now.
At 6 AM, the hospital is stirring to life. More than 100 people are on cots or makeshift beds along the wall of every hallway. Family members are straightening out the sheets and coverlets, helping the patients to wash and to get ready for the day. About 30 of the patients have tape with NPO on their forehead, indicating that they are on the surgery schedule. The surgery team worked past midnight, and will be coming in again for morning rounds. About 25 of the patients are in the Observation unit, where they can be monitored closely by nursing and medical staff. The parking space in front of the hospital has thinned out to 6-8, in place of the more than 40 which were there at midnight.

Our immediate need is for replacement physicians. A key problem is long time required to arrive here from the US and Europe and the difficulty of transiting Port au Prince. I have been trying to contact other medical organizations here in Haiti as we understand that they have surgeons but no ORs.  Dr. John Judson and the Ortho team are setting up teams which could be here within a week, which will help the HAS doctors to take a break, and to attend to the needs of their families in PauP. We will schedule these teams when Dr. Rolf Maibach, HAS Medical Director arrives later today with an official Swiss delegation to asses recovery needs.

We still do not have phone service. The internet is really our only means of communication..
It would be hard to adequately reflect the enormous effort which has been extended by every member of the HAS staff during the past days; always available, always helpful and supportive, and always supremely professional. Disasters often bring out both the best and the worst in people; in our case, we have only seen the best.

The halls are clean, despite the large numbers of patients and visitors. the flow of patients and their family seems chaotic but is well managed by the security staff. The lab and X-ray services are open,  and the ORs are being prepared for another full day.

There are many heros here, most unsung; over time, it will be possible to identify and thank each one, but for the moment, a special recognition goes to the medical staff, especially Dr. Toussaint, a young neonatologist whom Rolf was wise enough to name as acting Medical Director in his absence. Quiet, kind, pleasant, and professional, he has led a team of physicians who have followed his lead of competent and caring service. Several physicians went to PauP to support their families, and the rest coalesced to ensure that all services were provided. The young social residents have also been extremely helpful.

Thanks to all who have offered assistance and support. It helps more than you can know.

Ian G. Rawson