It's hard to believe that this experience is drawing to a close for me.
I have found my replacement for the Bolosse clinic: a wonderful, Haitian-born, Creole-speaking nurse named Carmel. She lives in Chicago with her family, and arrived in Haiti two days ago. She said that she cried the entire first day to see what has happened to her homeland.
Now that the clinic has a sort of routine, and is fully staffed by Haitian doctors and nurses who plan to work there long-term, the plan is for IMC to support the clinic by providing supplies and maintaining a daily presence. I had been worried that I wouldn't find someone suitable (not that I'm particularly irreplaceable, but hey, I worked hard to start the clinic and wanted to find just the right person) but Carmel appeared with a group from Chicago, and from the start, we clicked. The nurses at the Bolosse clinic love her; she is able to answer their questions fluently and is doing a lot of teaching.
So now I feel that I can wrap things up: my mission here, though I didn't know it before I left for Haiti, was to establish a clinic for people who had no other medical help. Dr. Brian and I started the clinic; I've managed to keep it going with God's help and the support of IMC; and the best news I could ever hope to get is that the clinic is running well into the future. Lylie, the leader of the community of Bolosse, is planning to visit New York City in March; she has many English-speaking friends and family there who can translate, and I look forward to hearing good news about the clinic's operation.
As far as everyone else goes: Nicole has spent much of this trip in Petit Goave, a community more than an hour's drive from Port-au-Prince. She packs big boxes full of supplies and goes for two or three days at a time. I saw her briefly yesterday when she stopped at IMC to refurbish her supplies; she looks great, is happy, and doing what she can for her homeland.
Bindy, the lone SEIU doctor among us, voiced concern at the start of the trip that she wouldn't have much to offer to the Haitians. But it turns out that her contribution has been great; the need for primary care in the community is immense, and this is her field. She's a trouper, she throws herself into whatever she's asked to do, and she always does it with a smile.
Simone has spent most of her time here at the mobile clinic in Petionville. Though it was rough going at first (they don't have a permanent, secure structure such as we have in Bolosse and, as everywhere, the need for medical care is great), her team has gotten into its groove and cares for many in what was once a country-club atmosphere, but is now a tent city.
John has happily been transferred, at his request, out of the medical ward and into the postop care unit. There is much more light and air there, and I think more staff to help care for his patients. Stephanie, John talks about you all the time. He misses you and all of your "kids," and just this morning said that he's eager to get home to you, his brothers and sisters, and the kids. It's clear that he loves you, even if he forgets to blog it sometimes! Look for a message from him later today.
As for me, I'm slowing down my pace. I took the afternoon off to come back to the hotel and care for a friend who is feeling ill (she's asleep in my room right now, IV in place, and hopefully will be well enough to eat dinner). The leadership at IMC seems to recognize that a two-week deployment is plenty for anyone to handle, both physically and emotionally, and they are very understanding when the "short-timers' syndrome" kicks in.
Fred, I'll call with flight arrangements when I get them. We have been told that they would like us to be in our own homes by the night of the 4th, and so far, getting folks home seems to be going pretty smoothly. Every few days a new group arrives (usually looking shell-shocked, as I'm sure that I did nearly two weeks ago) and then a tired, seasoned group gets to go home. Soon, that will be me.
But I plan to return someday. Part of my heart will stay here.
Love you all...
Please, continue to pray for Haiti.