Wow has it only been 30 hours since my last novella? I woke up Monday afternoon after 3 hours of very interrupted sleep. Usually a 3hr nap midday is a luxury but I was too wired to really rest.
At 5pm, I met up with French doctors and French Canadian recovery room nurses. They showed me the area outside the hospital where immediate post-op patients are laying on tarps, mattresses, or stretchers in open air surrounded by family who tend to their basic needs while we deal with the sickest patients. We walked around and they signed out the patients to me, informing me who needed nighttime antibiotics and other various details regarding their medical care.
From 5pm until 7 am, Mimi (an orthopedic surgeon from San Diego) and I took care of those things, and other random needs for the tent city which has sprawled up in our hospital compound. We mostly provided basic medical needs. People throwing up, people with pelvic fractures from walls caving in that were getting obstructed because they had not had a bowel movement since the earthquake, bleeding after surgery, many people just scared and hungry looking for anything. A lot of placebo
Tylenols were given.
A group of four ICU nurses from San Diego (Cassia Chevillon, Shelly Noland (Go State), Brenna Jupin, and Angela Klinkhamer) and one Anesthesiolgist (Jessie Yi), and a lone straggler who financed her own trip solo named Cindy had been working tirelessly for days getting the ORs, pharmacy, and PACU in order. Much of what had been accomplished in the hospital the prior week was directly attributable to their non-stop effort and determination. They had even started walking around the entire camp at 11pm and 4am with boxes of basic meds, fluids, and wound dressings putting out any little fire they could find. Their dedication at night saved many lives as they could identify sick patients in the tents who needed to be under closer watch.
They had been sponsored by ACTS (Active Community Teams Serving) Worldwide Relief Agency who along with Doctors and administrators from Loma Linda University had running the hospital and much of the primary care outreach in the immediate vicinity
At 730am, the French and Canadian teams returned and we turned the hospital over to them. What soon became evident was that basic referral politics were in place even here. French triage officers send surgeries to French surgeons, not American, although orthopedic surgeries outnumbered general 10 to 1. With that in mind, we spent most of the morning walking around the camp trying to be useful and find work. The French team really is running a tight ship and its hard to fault then (ironically, most Haitians hate the French because of their long colonial history, maybe their presence here assuages the French guilt over how they personally devastated Haiti over the last 300 years).
At 11, the rest of the Holy Cross team arrived and we got them settled. They came with all of the Holy Cross hospital meds and supplies. We felt however that there was enough at this hospital and instead with the help of ACTSwr arranged to have them transported across the street to a primary care clinic called Children of Hope, supported by the hospital. When we walked over there we found an empty house with no furniture, 80 of our boxes and a line of people around the corner who heard we were coming.
After some quick unpacking, we started seeing patients with all sorts of basic complaints and also performed minor surgeries. Some furniture and 2 exam tables were brought in which made life easier. At 3 we heard some people were heading about 1/2 mile away to a large tent city with about 10-14,000 people that had sprouted on the campus of a nearby university. We headed there with pockets stuffed with candy, stickers and smiles. When we got there, we hopped out of the back of a truck.
On one side were university buildings and the other were tents as far as the eye could see, not organized military tents, but one large sunroof-less tent that stretched forever, multicolored fabrics and sticks made up the forms. It's hard to tell how you get to your tent if its in the middle of the clump. Tons of little kids and we soon were very popular as our pocket were emptied of treats.
Just an aside, I remember the news talked about the spirit and resiliency of the Haitian people. I can tell you it really is true. I have yet to see a fight, hear an argument. Everyone is smiling and dealing with their problems. There is a core of young men here who act as interpreters, security, transportation. They work tirelessly for free and as far as I can tell its all volunteer. Many of the kids don't know what happened and appear to be as happy with their current poverty and squalor as they were with the pre-earthquake Haiti.
Back to the tent city. After wandering around for a while as goodwill ambassadors, I saw a large Canadian tent with a line of people into it. I wandered it and found a group of New Yorkers from Adventist Community Service also running a makeshift clinic. After introducing myself, they immediately put me to work evaluating a little girl with abdominal pain and vomiting. I then spent the rest of the day till sundown working in the tent along with some of the others from our group. We also arranged to go back today with a shopping cart of meds and supplies.
We walked back to the hospital at 5 to take sign out from the French and Canadian teams and start the night shift. Around 8 there was a spur of the moment dinner party as all the Americans in the hospital (7 of us from Ft. Laud, 2 from Oregon, 6 from Southern Cal, and a few assorted others) pooled snacks and food and hung out with some good music (I knew bringing my portable speakers was worth it). I got a bit of sleep before getting up to start my own shift.
So now Wednesday am and I'm on my way to the tent city for the day. We plan to go to the airport Thursday am and hop on any outgoing flight. Apparently there are military transports leaving every 3 hours to somewhere and we have to get on one first come first serve.