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Thursday, March 18, 2010

3/14/10 - Team 8, Day 1 & Day 2

Update from Nathalie Fiset, MD:

Like it is so often the case, before I leave for a medical mission, all my patients wanted to have their babies before I got on my plane. As a result, I ended-up doing a full day of appointments and delivering 3 babies (the last one at 7:10 a.m. as I said I needed to leave at 7:00 for the airport) and have not slept at all. I am happy though that I got to be present for all my patients and I actually was able to change my seat and get a window on the plane so I will sleep.
At the airport, the clerk was nice enough not to mention anything nor overcharge me for my very heavy suitcases. Before landing in Haiti, I am inhabited by a sense of sadness by seeing all the devastation. Usually when you approach a city, you see the swimming pools from the air. Here what is apparent are the numerous blue tents next to most houses that are down in dust.

At the airport, there is no customs formality whatsoever and immigration asks nobody questions. Then, the chaos starts: there are no carrousel for the luggage so a few bellboys are doing their best to find the screaming crowd’s suitcases and boxes. The luggage also comes very slowly and is often broken or dirty. It gets even worst when we get outside as there is a screaming crowd and we have to work our way outside because the truck is stuck two streets away. I hold on tightly to my guides.

After getting in the truck, we basically are stuck in traffic as there are no roads and no traffic lights. We finally get moving after an hour and get on a dirt road. We pass in front of hills that smell very bad. I am told this is the burial ground for the people who perished in the earthquake. My guide tells me that more than 200 000 people died. I am overwhelmed by a sense of loss this nation has suffered. I set up my little tent and try to go to sleep but it is very hot and damp and my sleep is light.

Today I am scheduled to do consultation at the local clinic. The pace is very slow and after two hours, I still have not seen any patient. I am learning to take it easy. I see a teenager who is dehydrated, has a high fever and pneumonia. I am surprised to see that this clinic is so well equipped. They even have an ultrasound machine and labs. I am happy to see that most people understand my French and that I can guess Creole and communicate with people. My highlight of the day is when we had extra time and played with the cutest twins.

As we ask people how the earthquake affected them, some children mention that they are now afraid to be inside and would rather sleep in a tent as they saw buildings collapse and kill their friends and loved ones during the earthquake. This morning, one of the team affiliates brought his son Matthew, a Haitian little baby boy that he rescued from an orphanage a couple of months ago in a near death condition. He also mentioned that sadly, many of the clothing, food and toys donated to orphanages are either stolen or sold. People have to be very careful who they donate to and make sure that their donations make it to the ones who need it. After taking a nice shower I realize that all my make-up and my deodorant have completely melted. What do you know, it was hot today!

Update from Tammy:
The OR has not been too busy. Monday we did a 2 month old ankle fracture and an I&D of elbow and a wound change on Job. Tuesday no surgeries but myself and Joe, a cath lab nurse from California, spent the day cleaning, organizing and sterilizing. Basically seeing what there is to work with! Really pretty good. I hope we are making it better and easier for the next team coming in. Today we did 5 cases. 2 external fixator adjustments and 2 ex fix removals. 1 I&D. Have an early morning planned , a 7:00 am ankle fracture also an old injury. As before, I am totally impressed and in love with the people here. Their faith and spirit keep everyone happy to be here and really give everyone perspective. I feel blessed by being here.
Picture: Waiting to be seen at the MOH clinic

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