Thursday, 25 March 2010

A Day In The Life Of A Haiti Volunteer Doctor

By BanditBasheert

Hi everyone – RPK asked me to blog an update on the 4+ days that hubs has been in Haiti based upon the emails and pictures I have received.

After about 15 phone calls back and forth, the charter flight left Miami and arrived in beautiful humid Port au Prince

Hubs and the others picked up their luggage on the tarmac went through customs and were trucked to the hospital compound.

New photo:

(This second photo arrived about 10 minutes ago, reporting on a warm, sunny day)

After dumping their bags in the sleeping area everyone got to work.

They are up at 5:30am (most by choice since it’s possible to take a 2 minute shower in reasonably cool water at that hour.) Then it’s off to the coffee tent (they provide the water) and then the day begins.

“So this is shorter than planned. Finished at 7:00 tonight and spent a good part of the day in the OR. I am the wound consult for most of the hospital *nd am working closely with the plastic surgeon from. Amazing what I have seen in one day. Off to have some trail mix and mango chips for dinner. Will try to send more later.”

The days are absolutely crazy busy. Burns, fractures, wounds, crush injuries – it’s never ending. The compound has over 600 people. The UN is next door. The compound is walled off and security is provided by the US Military and the U.N. You are advised to NOT leave the compound alone, even to go to the UN.

“Well, it is a different life down here as expected.
Up at six, shower, shave briefly, brush, put on scrubs, eat a breakfast bar, and head for the meeting. A general briefing and off with out teams. I am with the wound care team, and basically am the only MD on it. A plastic surgeon from the Sun City area is also here, and as we shall see, we interact a lot.

The morning begins with dressing changes in our wound care room, and many are done under some anesthesia. Because most of the patients have been so traumatized, they are very sensitive to pain. We fortunately have a big wound care team, today about 8-9 as the group that will be leaving tomorrow are still working with us today.. Some are really excellent in wound care, and others less so although all are enthusiastic. I participate in some of this, but am often called to consult on wounds on the wards or in other departments. This includes the wound outpatient clinic as well as the pediatric ward. It is amazing what you see."

Days run together. MRE’s have not turned up so everyone is living out of their suitcases. You can run to the UN for a burger and beer, if you can find the time!

“It's now 1:30 and we are about to take our first break. Temp is warm, but not unbearably hot. It's amazing the injuries we see. Most probably earthquake relater, but not all. I seem to be the go to guy to solve management problems when different services are involved.
More later."

The day continues.

“I also spent almost half the day in the OR. Working with the Plastic Surgeon, as well as with other surgeons, on wound problems, and providing a link to the wound service. We took a break, about ½ hour at about 1. The lemon pepper tuna tasted great with a few dried mango slices, I have now just finished at 7:00 PM with the last two burn cases in the OR. Back for a dinner of trail mix, and some dried fruit. It tomorrow is lighter, we may go to the UN compound for dinner and a cold beer. The drinking water here is either tepid or possibly downright warm. The raspberry drink mix tastes really good. MRE's have not been available. Apparently they arrive from time to time. So the food that I brought is really worthwhile.”

OMG he misses “ice” – all water is “tepid”. Fortunately the malaria laden mosquitos haven’t shown up at night. Not everyone brought enough food – so people are sharing. Food is brought into the hospital twice a day but when you are in the OR, you can’t just stop and eat rice and beans! And there is NO place to buy food even if you could leave.

“Wounds care and dressing changes are done under anesthesia. These people are so traumatized that they are highly pain sensitive so you are unable to treat them except in an O.R.”

Yesterday’s email:

“2:30 - lunch time. Today opted for peanut butter on crackers, raisin/cranberry fruit, crystal light with water and a little trail mix for dessert. The latter has to be eaten with a spoon as all the chocolate has melted.

We were told this AM, that this compound will be moving in the next 4-6 weeks as it will flood. They say there was quite a bit of water, even into the main tent with the recent rains. They are trying to move into an actual building and may even have a rehab center. We have many patients here who are only here as they have no place to go, and must have some way of caring for their wounds. Also a fair number of paraplegic with various pressure ulcers."

Today they plan to take the “tour” around PAP and see if they can get some photographs of the damage - they’ve been told it is not officially sanctioned but they realize people are interested so they have a group of drivers that will take 4-5 people on a safe route to photograph.

Will keep you all posted.

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