USGA NEWS
More Stories From Haiti February 14, 2015

More Stories From Haiti

Goat again for dinner last night.  I am starting to grow horns.

Gary tells the story about working in the ER with a trauma patient, looking up to see a dog just wandering on through.

Speaking of trauma, there seems to be a moped accident every two or three hours requiring ortho intervention.

We saw a young boy who needed to have his ear sewn back on. It had been sliced off with a machete (never really got the details.) 

HaitiKids
A group of Haitian children wait to be helped by Dr. Paul Burke's medical team. (Courtesy of Dr. Paul Burke)

We also saw a farmer who had been bitten on the calf by one of his pigs!  That must have been one big pig as the fang entry points were quite far apart.  Tasha guessed that “the other white meat” would be on the menu that night.

Dr. Ted took us to the perimeter of the medical compound today.  We were up on a bluff looking down at a huge valley which was a river bed.  I would guess it was a mile wide and 100 feet deep.  Anyway, there was a shallow meandering stream at the bottom, with hundreds of Haitian’s washing themselves and their laundry.  It was like a scene from a movie. Fifty feet away and paralleling the river was the town’s dump.  We could see these huge trucks pulling up and discharging their refuse right on the bank of the river!  According to Dr. Ted, during the hurricane season, the waters fill the chasm to the brim, and wash all of the garbage out to sea. 

Again, our Green Movement in the Western World may make us feel better about ourselves, but as much as I hate to say it, the battle is probably going to be a losing one.

We have decided to combine Suzanne’s skills an ER and ICU nurse to help create a PACU, or recovery room.  She is the perfect example of what a team member on a medical mission should be.  She is multi talented, yet is not afraid to pitch in and do whatever is necessary. (plus, she is one of the few people that laughs at my jokes)

We actually had a funny scene develop.  In the evening on the way back to our housing, we stopped at the only hotel in the vicinity.  It was hit by the quake, but one half was still functioning.  The pool was even open.  Suzanne sent a text message to Bill’s wife, joking that she should not feel to sorry for her husband as he was currently frolicking in a swimming pool.  However, Bill’s wife did not receive the email until 4 AM !  She called Bill to find out why he was swimming in a hotel pool at four in the morning.

Gary went out to the field today.  On the way back, a truck with propane tanks overturned on a bridge.  The Canadian army quickly secured the bridge and would allow no one to cross.  A Haitian American nurse who was with Gary’s group tried to explain that they were on an emergency medical mission, and needed to cross.  Apparently the soldiers were cordial, but made it quite apparent that they were in

This was actually unfortunate, as we had been alerted that there was an infant with an orthopedic issue.  Peter waited as long as he could, then the medical compound shut down.  She would need to come back another day.

An anesthesiologist shared her pictures with us. She had a very dramatic photo of a school where the entire outside wall collapsed, allowing a clear view into the classrooms.  One room where all the children perished had “God will save us” written on the chalkboard.  The whole event lasted just seconds, raising the question as to what the teacher had been talking about as disaster struck.

I performed a stress test on a patient today.  She had been complaining of chest pain on exertion.  We had no ekg machine.  I took her outside and walked her up a flight of stairs a few times.  I felt her pulse as we climbed.  Soon enough she complained of chest pain and became tachycardic.  Problem is, what do you do about it.  We have nothing to treat her with, not even nitrotabs.

On the way to the medical compound we visited the tent city which had been set up on the soccer field in the center of town to house displaced families. There were masses of green canvas tents as far as you see.  It was noisy, dirty, smelly and hot.  I can only imagine what the temperature got to inside those dark green tents.

One observation that I have made.  The children seem to react more positively to the tropical fish or bird beanie babies than the moose or walruses.  I  guess that should come as no surprise.