Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti

Saving Lives, Changing Lives

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Morning Report 20 January 2010, day 8 of the earthquake emergency

We were awakened at 6:30 this morning by what seemed to be another aftershock. It was a nice way to meet the neighbors, as we all bolted out the doors together. There was no impact in this area, and we hear from colleagues in Port au Prince that there was no effect in their immediate areas.

All through the afternoon, the exits saw a steady stream of patients with casts, on crutches, and on stretchers, passing out of our doors to return home. The issue for many is where they will go – their homes in many cases were destroyed. A community group, ODES, has asked to take over L’Escale, the TB village, and are placing patients and families there in order to offer them shelter while they have the chance to sort out their lives. For some patients, who have had emergency treatment but are still fragile, this is an extremely helpful service. It is intended to be temporary….

Several of the hospital corridors are completely clear, and others only have a row of cots along only one side, so it is easier to get gurneys down the halls to the operating suite. The visiting team of trauma specialists teamed with Drs. Exe and Pierrelus in a seamless group and were able to function in two operating rooms at a time in a 13-hour marathon of procedures. Those patients who are still waiting were given hope as they saw patients being rolled into and out of the Ors.

A number of patients with complex conditions are awaiting the arrival today of a team of orthopods from Atlanta, who will be able to perform procedures on hands, ankles, and femurs which require the more technical equipment and materials which the team will be bringing with them. During the several days that this group will be here, they will assist the HAS team to clear a number of patients from the earthquake, and to support additional patients who have come in after the earthquake with injuries from farming and vehicular incidents. Gradually, the ratio of patients between earthquake victims and patients from this region is coming into balance, and perhaps by the weekend we will have returned to a census which more closely resembles the pre-quake levels.

Here at Deschapelles, we appreciated the concern shown by the team from ABC news, the first major national news entity to make it beyond the urban areas. We have heard kind comments about the program, which may also be shown on GMA and other ABC programs today.  Some media leaves the impression that there are no functioning hospitals in Haiti, and that the entire country is embroiled in violence and desperation. This is not the case at Hopital Albert Schweitzer.

A regularly-scheduled delivery of food for the malnutrition program in the mountains arrived yesterday with a contingent of Argentinean soldiers in full battle dress, expecting a riot such as have occurred in Port au Prince. They established a security perimeter, automatic rifles in the ready position, surrounded by young men, some of whom were ominously armed with tennis racquets. We suggested that they might lower the rifles, and the tension cleared. Some of the young men showed up with cold colas, and others with ice for their water bottles. Soon it became clear that this was a different environment, and the young men explained that they were there to volunteer to off load the trucks into our depot. We finished the exercise with photos of the UN soldiers surrounded by their new friends.

All of us here send our thanks for your concern and the generous outpouring of support during the past week. It lets us know that the work which we are privileged to do here is not unnoticed, and it gives us strength as we look forward to final stretch.

Ian Rawson