Sarah Allen Reflections On Recent Trip To Haiti!Posted on March 19th, 2011 No comments
Just wanted to write an update about our Haiti project! I just got the opportunity to spend a week down in Haiti last week! My fiance is doing an ortho rotation down there for 3 weeks so I decided to go join at least for a week. It was amazing to see how the hospital has changed since last year when I visited!
Landing in Haiti brought back memories of when I visited exactly one year beforehand. Driving back from the airport to the hospital, I noticed that there were still many tents along the side of the road where people had been living for over a year. They now appeared well inhabited. We drove by the palace, which still stood looked crumbled, identical to how it was 1 year ago. The cathedral was torn to peices, and everything looked as if the earthquake had just happened yesterday. Haiti has been through so much political turmoil in the past year it has been very difficult to get anything accomplished. There has been some progress, however progress in haiti is very slow.
However, driving into the hospital grounds, I did feel like there was a radical change. No longer were there hundreds of tents crowding the campus. It was clean, pristine, and there were very few people walking around. It almost felt empty in comparison to last year. The hospital hallways were clean, the supplies ‘neatly; tucked away in a storage building. There were no longer cots lining the hallways upstairs for volunteers to sleep. Also, for the most part, the haitian doctors and nurses have resumed full care of the hospital. There are still 9-10 long term volunteers that have made a year committment to stay at the hospital to make changes, but they are trying their best to support the haitians to run the hospital. The hospital administrator is Nathan Lindsay along with Emilie Clotaire, and they have a new medical director, Dr. Simeon. Our friend Marc Julmisse who went with us to Haiti on our first trip in 2008 is now down there for a year or more, working as a nurse educator to help raise the standard of care at the nursing level. She has been doing an incredible job, organizing training seminars for the nurses, neonatal resuscitation courses, and sending some employees to the united states for more extensive training. She has a difficult task set before her, given that the nurses don’t all have the same training, very few of them actually have their bachelor’s in nursing.
Also there is an architect there for a year, who is making plans for constructing long term volunteer housing on the campus but not in the hospital building. This will allow more space for inpatients on the wing where they have been staying. Also, in the next few weeks, administration will be moving down to the building near the entrance of the hospital, where the polyclinique is, and pediatrics and maternity will be moving up to where administration currently is. So there are some big changes that will begin to take place soon.
As I mentioned earlier, most all of the departments have returned to being fully run by the haitian staff, except the Orthopedic program. Dr. Terry Dietrich, an orthopedic surgeon who is a graduate of Loma Linda and previously has been living in Wisconsin, has committed to staying at the hospital for 1 year. He and his wife have been working hard to provide free health care for the patients, as orthopedics is the only specialty that is being subsidized right now and is still free for anybody, including surgeries. It is much less chaotic than last year, but still there are many needs. Patients are coming in who have had problems for 10-15 years but have not had the money to have a surgery. Clinics are full every day with people lining the halls waiting to be seen, and they do 7 or 8 surgeries per day as well. Dr. Dietrich has also been working to raise money for long term support for the orthopedic program to become self sustainable and to continue to provide free care in the future.
I’d love to see what they’ve done with the ortho program happen in the other specialties in the hospital. Currently pediatrics is seeing over 800 patients per month. Also, I spent a lot of time working with the Ob/gyn doctors down there. They’ve had an ultrasound machine that was donated last year that they don’t seem to know how to use. I spent some time working with each of them showing them how to use it, which seemed very helpful. Also, there didn’t seem to be nearly the same amount of deliveries as there were last year. Dr. Saint Preux explained to me that when it was free to deliver there, everybody came. But now that it costs money, most people don’t come and instead deliver at home or at the public hospital. Because of that, there is a much higher infant mortality and I would imagine maternal mortality as well. On my last day there a patient came in seizing due to eclampsia. She had waited all throughout the symptoms of pre-eclampsia and didn’t come in until she was actually seizing. We did an emergency c-section on her, and she had beautiful full term twins thankfully! Anyway I’m just saying that the lack of access to health care is obviously causing problems in many areas.
Anyway these are my ramblings, I just wanted to update everyone on how things are going at the hospital. The people seem to be in high spirits and are thankful for all that they have, even when they still are living in tents. There’s still over 1000 people living in tents at the Adventist University down the road. They’re also having elections for a new president this coming Sunday so I’m sure there are some big changes around the corner.
All in all, we’ve chosen an amazing hospital to be committed to. I’m excited about our commitment, and I’m sure that we can make some really positive changes there. I think it will take working with the people that are there long term to really help, cause they’re the ones who know the ins and outs of the hospital. I think God has blessed us to be in the position to make a difference though, and I look forward to what the future has to hold for our class project, and I pray that we can use our endowment to further His work.
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