Hôpital Albert Schweitzer Haiti

Saving Lives, Changing Lives

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Exerpt from 2/9/2010 blog by Edward Rawson

Before I came to Haiti after the quake, I was hearing the numbers on the news. Before I arrived the estimated death toll was already over 160,000. By the time I got settled in to the Hôpital Albert Schweitzer campus I was reading over 200,000 dead. The statistics were saying over a million directly affected by the quake. All these numbers were so abstract to me. Sure it sounded like a lot of people. I could imagine my home city of Pittsburgh, has a population of around 300,000 people, so that means around two thirds of the Pittsburgh's population would have died over the course of 30 seconds and over the next few hours and days. But still that was so abstract an idea I could hardly wrap my mind around it.

Now it has been nearly a month since Haiti has been reduced to rubble and broken hearts. The initial crisis of getting people to hospitals and in the care of doctors is slowing down. Most of the life saving has been done and rescue work is nearly over.

Now the hundreds of thousands of patients with broken bones, amputated legs, horrible scrapes and bruises will wait patiently for their wounds to heal. More surgeries will happen, but now we will be fixing the rough field hospital amputations and other procedures, reducing infections, skin grafts, and removing of external fixing devices. Though HAS is still overcrowded and filled with major procedures yet to be preformed, it looks less full than it did a few weeks ago. Now we are seeing many injuries NOT related to the earthquake. Taptap (taxis) and motorcycle crashes are very common as well as cases of TB, Malaria and other illnesses.

There is a new emergency emerging and growing every day. Because of the unthinkable destruction in the south of the country, a massive migration of displaced people is coming our way. Their numbers too are sounding abstract at the moment, but in the region of the Artibonite the numbers are the largest. An estimated 162,000 people moving to this region. To compare that to Pittsburgh again... half of Pittsburgh just moved in our back yard.

Hôpital Albert Schweitzer now has a massive new population to care for. We are one of the only hospitals in our region and already have a large population within our 610 square mile service area that depends on us for their healthcare. That means that a large portion of this new immigrant population will now need vaccinations, to be recorded in our systems, treated for illnesses and given care when needed. This will put an additional burden on the already weak economy. Most of the illnesses we treated before the quake were illnesses that are the result of poverty. So, if the economy goes down more, the illnesses will go up. Our region will need more care.
We are here, and have been here, for over fifty years in the Artibonite finding ways to provide care to the people of Haiti who we love and know deserve a helping hand.

We need your help. Your donations will save lives today, tomorrow, and for years to come. PLEASE VISIT www.hashaiti.org TO MAKE A DONATION NOW!