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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Everybody's leaving but we're still here

Hello blog-o-sphere, sorry it's been so long since I've made a post.  Seems every time we think things are getting better we are dealt a new deck of cards.  We have been as busy as ever here but with new and varying challenges.  While post-op ortho cases are gradually being discharged and leaving the property we have been plagued with significant traffic in our ER.  To make matters worse it seems that more and more NGOs and government groups alike are ending their Haiti relief missions already.  What this means is that our ability to transfer patients out to places that may have resources we don't is dwindling and will soon be gone.  Our two best transfer options for critical patients have been the USS Comfort and the University of Miami Field Hospital.  Word on the street and confirmed by our own challenges in transferring patients to either, is that both will be ending their missions here in Haiti shortly.  By default, we have become the regional trauma center for the entire west side of Port au Prince and most of the communities on the western peninsula.  This was never our intent and we are ill equipped for such responsibility but, we will carry on and are committed to the Haitian communities we serve.

Sorry to be cynical but apparently the collective goal of many response agencies working here was to: return Haiti's health care system to the pre-quake state and then go home.  Well folks we (LLU and the volunteer groups that have and continue to work here) exceeded that goal just by showing up.  The idea that that goal is an acceptable level makes me want to scream.  This nation has lost upwards of 225,000 people, almost 1 million of the surviving population are without proper food, water, shelter, or sanitation and somewhere between 7,000 - 10,000 have had limbs amputated, not to mention the huge number of patients with surgically treated injuries.  To think that the international community can come here for 6 weeks and then turn their backs is simply unacceptable.  LLU is not leaving our work here in Haiti and we continue to need your support.  Please if you have the means to help our work, click on the red button at the top of this blog and support our cause.

We have had two 4.7 aftershocks this week both in the middle of the night.  Significant aftershocks continue to be a very real reality here and are detrimental to the already fragile psyche of the Haitian population and our volunteer medical staff.  During an aftershock our patients in the hospital all go running and screaming out of the building, many dragging their IVs on the ground or ripping them out all together.  This is a major obstacle for us to overcome.

Shelving update
I am pleased to report that we have more than 20 shelving units built and in use in the various operational units around the hospital.  We have more shelves being built and more on the way.  This one simple thing has radically improved the efficiency of our operation.

BCFS Texas Strike Team
We have been blessed for almost two weeks now to have a group of volunteers from San Antonio Texas here at the hospital with us.  This team is a highly trained incident management team (IMT) that have worked in multiple disaster zones such as Hurricanes Katrina, Ike, 9/11 and others.  They have helped us implement an Incident Command System (ICS) structure that has dramatically increased the efficiency of our relief effort.  We have implemented specific roles that each of us play in order to decrease overlap of duty and maximize productivity.  ICS stresses the creation and dissemination of very specific objectives to be completed in each 24 hour period.  These objectives are shared twice a day at 7:30AM and 7:30PM in a very structured staff briefing.  Overall this system seems to be steering us rapidly towards our goal of resuming normal hospital operations inside the building.  Much work remains but ICS has been very helpful in moving us forward.

The Chief and The Commander in their ICS vests

70 post-op patients still outside in the tents
15 patients inside the various wards in the main building
21 sick babies
10 pregnant moms waiting to deliver
16 volunteer staff with GI issues in the last week
18 hour work days still the norm for Andrew

Keep Haiti in your prayers and thoughts as much work remains here.

1 comment:

  1. God bless your commitment to the people of Haiti.