Hello all, and greetings from the Hotel Plaza in Port au Prince. John and I have been busy, but at the end of every day we are exhilarated and glad to be here, of some use.
I have traded an unspecified amount of almonds to Dr. Jeff for a few minutes' use of his laptop; a good trade! It feels great to be able to communicate sort of directly with you.
With our work with the International Medical Corps, we have been based at the University Hospital. Every morning we take a 7AM shuttle to the office, have a debriefing, then go to our assignments. Generally we are on the bus back to the hotel by 5 or 5:30 PM; they prefer that we be safely en route by the time darkness falls. There are some generators at the hospital but those are for night-time surgery; the streets of the hospital compound are pitch black until dawn.
For the past few days John has been working in the Medical Unit at the hospital. Their patient type varies from chronic medical problems to acute problems such as severe dehydration, a gunshot wound to the head, and everything in between. One of the problems with this inpatient unit is that the Haitians have become terrified to stay in-doors, due to the initial earthquake and subsequent aftershocks. So many patients discharge themselves at night; sometimes they can be found in a wooded area across the street, sometimes they never return.
One word about aftershocks: the worst, a 6.0, occurred the day before we got here. All medical buildings were evacuated into the hot sun for most of the day. There have been 3 or 4 minor tremors since we've been here; two were very brief but one was enough to have people running for the doors. But by the time we got to the door, it was all over.
As for me, I have been part of a mobile medical clinic visiting Bolosse, which is a neighborhood a few blocks from here. Yesterday, Dr. Brian and I scouted the area with our translator, Shiloh. We met with Lylie, who has become the de facto leader of about 5000 people. I think she may have been skeptical about us at first, but we were able to set up a small area and see many children and adults yesterday. Some were with injuries from the earthquake who had not received medical attention yet; one was a soccer goalie (!) who'd twisted his ankle. Many febrile children, many with diarrhea, and a few we sent to the hospital for more advanced care. I went back Bolosse today with Dr. Brian and Dr. Dan, who is a pediatrician (YAY!) and we saw about 120 pts all together. The Drs. did the care, and I dispensed medication with several Haitian nurses. One of them, Marthe, is especially wonderful; she is teaching the less experienced nurses. We've also had a Haitian medical student join us; eventually, the medical care in these communities will be turned over to the Haitians, as it should be, and part of our job is making sure that they are prepared to take care of their clients.
Once our day's work is done and we return to the hotel, it's time to line up for a shower. (Boy, am I glad I cut my hair before I came! Though I do miss my mascara.) There is a debriefing every night with administrative personnel from IMC, and they try to provide us with the essentials we ask for: medications, extra personnel, whatever. At 8PM, dinner is served,buffet style, in a Tiki-bar type of bar/restaurant. Strange, huh? My translator Shiloh is sleeping on the street, literally, right now; and I'm sitting on the floor in a ballroom, blogging, with a full belly. And I had a cold beer with dinner, too! $7 for an El Presidente, which they tell me is highway robbery )
Enough for tonight. I have used up my almonds' worth of laptop time. I will try to write more in a few days. Meanwhile, pray not only for me and John, but for the many people who are here trying to help in any way.
And most of all, pray for Haiti.
Love you all,