Here I sit, facing the ocean, palm trees providing shade as it's already hot at 9am. The coolness after Hurricane Sandy is slowly leaving us! I am in my swim suit and contemplating booking a massage for later in the morning. I just ate a wonderful omelette at the buffet here at Club Indigo! Yes there is all this luxury here for me to enjoy in Haiti! I always have mixed emotions when I come here as I know there are still people living in tents in dusty fields outside of PAP. God is very good to me in that I do get to come here and relax and re-energize.
I joined my Haitian nurse friend Judith here last night and stayed with her overnight. 3 nurses and 2 doctors from OSAPO have been here all week at a seminar about Primary Health Care....sponsored by a company called iTECH. They are hoping to get electronic charting started at OSAPO and other centers and so provide training for the staff that will be using it. Judith was very excited about getting this started both at OSAPO and PPH. (Pierre Payen Hospital)
The last of 4 teams left yesterday morning. We did 12 surgeries on Thursday and then headed to Moulin Sur Mer for a last night celebration of a very successful week. I was totally exhausted and told them all that I was going to be happy to "see the backs of their heads!" : ) I had planned to come here to Indigo yesterday but ended up spending the day at the hospital puttering. Just couldn't settle into a relaxing mode yet.....but today is different! : ) Judith and friends have just loaded up in a car and are headed back to PAP and their families and so here I am with you.
I continue to be amazed at how many "hits" there are on this blog and I thank you for the encouragement that gives me. I hope I'm giving you some insight about life here in Haiti as I ramble. I had previously written some thoughts and saved them as drafts til now so here the "ramblings" start......(written beginning of November before the 1st surgical team arrived)......
The latest happening is that Annie's dog Abraham killed 2 of the neighbor's pigs and now we figure there's going to be a "manifestation" cause they're not happy with the $$ she gave them. These are the same neighbors who 3 years ago stole the invertor from here, got caught at it, charged and went to jail. Crazy world eh! Now every time the gate opens, Abraham tries to get out and the kids all go running after him. I think he's got the taste of blood now and likes it. He killed one of Lisa's chickens a few weeks ago! He's a beautiful black Lab who is great with the kids...and most Haitians are afraid of him even though he wouldn't bite a human! (can't say now that he "wouldn't hurt a flea!")
The first American team arrives tomorrow. Hospital renovations are still happening and the OR workroom is almost ready but it's as good as it's going to get. It'll be good to have others to help get it finished....
November week #1 and 2 was with the John Judson team from Pennsylvania. I've worked with them before and as before, they arrived without any OR nursing knowledge. Tiz returned (from 2010) and so remembered some of what she learned about OR work and so was the main circulator. Pat was quickly trained as the OR scrub nurse and away we went. There were others out on the ward working with the Haitian staff and a popular lab tech with an iSTAT machine which got a lot of use! She was hoping to convince her hospital to let her leave it but to no avail so that's another thing that I will add to a fundraising list!
The rest of the time with Judson was steady....and my best decision at the end of their time was to leave and go to Port Salut when Joe's large Nebraska team (Nov. Week #3) arrived. I stayed with them Friday night and Saturday day to orientate them to all the changes and left to go home to Annie's Sat night and then on to PAP and Port Salut on Sunday. It was a wonderful 4 days off....and I felt sane again when I returned. I missed the initial chaos and they were settled in somewhat by then. It had been extremely busy but God did send the right people. Sat. night there had been a stabbing....pierced a lung and nicked the heart but Joe Austin was here and he is a cardiac/thoracic surgeon! Isn't it amazing how God works! The fellow went home today. So many things like that happen....we all should write a book of God's miracles and how He plans things. How can anyone believe it all happens "by chance"!!!!
I worked as a "rover" for the rest of week #3 as there was still lots to put away and direct people, etc and Week #4 I was back in the OR but with 2 experienced OR nurses. Quite a difference from Judson's team!
On Friday, when most of the WEEK #3 team left, those of us left refused to let Joe book more OR cases (we did 4 minor lumps in the morning).....and we even got him to take the whole of Sat. off and we went touring! Ken and Betty and Bim and Tim and Steve from Project Help-Haiti came and got us 12 and off we went to Project Help-Haiti's Borel compound and then headed to the new "Partners in Health" Mirebalis Hospital! We wangled our way in for a guided tour : ) and thoroughly enjoyed that. There will be about 250 beds when they open in ?Feb/Mar 2013 and the eventual vision is to even do heart surgery there. One wing is focused on women's health, one for pediatrics and then a general ward. 2 xray rooms, 1 CAT scan and eventually an MRI. It's about 1 1/2 hours drive from PAP and as per PIH's philosophy, it is free health care for the poor. There are no private rooms, all open wards of beds and so they're hoping that those who can afford to pay for care will go elsewhere.....like Pierre Payen Hospital!!! The philosophy at PPH is to provide private care for those who can afford it and then use that money to help pay for services in the "community" ward to provide health care for those who can't afford to pay. People still have to pay a small amount at the "community" hospital as there is no desire to enhance a "welfare" state here in Haiti. Dr. Gardy and the OSAPO team is adamant about that. When we saw people in clinic, they all had to pay 100 goude ($2.50) for a consult and then pre-pay for the surgery before they got put on the slate. Of course, this process was bypassed for emergencies.
With the renovations, PPH now has about 25 beds...all semi-private or private. The community side has about 20 beds, set up in 2 wards.
Nov. Week #4 with the team continued to be busy. I don't know how many people were seen or surgeries done but I know our day started at 5:30am and ended about 10pm! We tried to meet by 7am in the dining room for breakfast but most mornings there seemed to be some "emergency" and so we were already in the hospital! One morning it was a caesarian section for eclampsia, another morning it was a re-insertion of a pulled out suprapubic catheter post-prostatectomy, etc etc. In the last 7 days, there have been 12 babies born, one successful resuscitation after section, one born on the road just outside the hospital gates as she just couldn't quite make it to the emergency room! We carried her into the triage on a stretcher as Grandma cleaned the baby, delivered the placenta and next thing we knew, mom was up and loaded into the back of a truck that had pulled up to the door and off they all went while we cleaned up!!! : ) Ah, such is life in Haiti!
My time in Port Salut on the Caribbean south arm of Haiti was wonderful. I finally got to see another part of this beautiful country. It's more rural than this north arm, smaller communities along the road but still lots of people up in the surrounding mountains. I had been invited to come to the grand opening of the new pediatric hospital there. I will try to post some pics. A couple from Minneapolis (Michelle and Jeff Boston) first went there 9 years ago and recognized the need for more health care and now their vision/dream is reality. Check their website www.notimeforpoverty.org
My plans for the next 9 days is to help Miss Gretta finish clean up post-team at the hospital. We want to meet with the staff to debrief/evaluate the experience of a very busy month of working with the Americans. She and I have recognized some gaps in the nursing knowledge for post-op care and last night I spoke with Judith about that and she is going to contact Gretta and they will hold some inservices for both the OSAPO and PPH nurses!
But right now I'm going to post this and then go jump in the pool! I will try to post some pics from my time here and in Port Salut.
I hope I have inspired some of you to think about coming to Haiti. There is need for all sorts of health care professionals, construction, electronics, plumbing and electrical, teaching, social welfare, etc etc....... anyone with a heart to serve. Don't ever think that just because you don't have "medical knowledge" you won't find something to do here. We all have gifts and so are just required to be willing.
1 Peter 5:2 "Not because I must but because I am willing"
all for now......blessings to all who read this.