Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti

Saving Lives, Changing Lives

Saturday, January 23, 2010

For this morning's update  I want to report on how the surrounding community has pulled together to help in this emergency.

During the period since the earthquake,  community organization ODES has organized volunteers to come o the hospital to support the crush of patients and their families. Some of them have cleaned the hallways, so that despite the large number of people, the floors are clean, and the trash cans are emptied. Others have prepared and served food for the families of the patients, many of whom have arrived at HAS with no money. Others carry beds and cots from the halls to the operating rooms, or back to the surgery ward. They all are immediately recognizable by their white t-shirts with the ODES logo.

As they have helped patients to prepare to go home following treatment, they discovered that many do not have homes left to go to in Port au Prince, and in some cases, they have been scheduled to return to HAS to have casts removed, or to check for infections. It would not be possible to go back and forth to Port au Prince, and they would not be able to find follow-up care there. So, ODES volunteers have taken over the former TB village, l’Escale, have cleaned the houses, and have begun to install patients and their families in these houses, so they can remain close to HAS and will be able to make plans for a return to Port au Prince when their injuries have healed.

Another group has worked with a local entrepreneur who was building a small hotel, to help to advance the project to make the rooms habitable, and have begun to house families, who have some connection with Deschapelles, and who have joined the crowds of people who are migrating out of Port au Prince. That facility will be filled soon, and the volunteers are scouting for other places where these people can be accommodated.

Many families have been leaving the capital, trying to get back to where they have some connections, so they can find shelter and the chance to regroup in order to try to make future plans. Near Port-au-Prince, aid agencies are setting up tent cities, but these may not be adequate. From our perspective, it is hard to estimate what the impact will be in this region, or on HAS, but it seems probable that the pattern of outmigration from Port au Prince will continue, and that more demands will be placed on HAS and on the community. We are fortunate to have a strong and flexible community organization such as ODES as a partner.