January 20, 2010
Hello to all,
It has been a very busy week with many ups and down. Tonight the Rochester community came out to support our efforts. We had over 50 volunteers come to our warehouse and pack over 150 boxes of medical supplies requested by our friends in Leogane at the Notre Dame Haiti Program. We still have over 500 more ready to go. Added to this are the meds donated from around the country and shipped to Rochester for the relief effort. Many thanks to Pat Leary and Jamie Slandzicki for their contributions.
We have purchased 2 reverse osmotic water treatment units, tents and other needed supplies such as iv fluids, tubing, etc from Rochester General Hospital.
The key connecting point to all these individual points was Constellation Brands - a Rochester based international company - donating the use of their corporate jets in this relief effort.
The jets will be packed tomorrow and leave late tomorrow night for the DR. There we will transfer docs and assets to US Military Black Hawks for transportation to Haiti and hopefully Leogane. This part is still fluid (a word I come to use routinely) depending on the ground situation. We are determined to get there.
Of note the Canadian troops arrived today which hopefully is a sign of better things to come:
6 doctors will make the trip - Drs Olejnik, Towle, Cole, Ellison, Powers and myself. All will stay in Leogane except myself who will return to work on future trip logistics. The main purpose of this group is to deliver the supplies and assess the ground situation for future teams to provide help. At this time we have no idea what to except.
Many, many of you want to go and help. Once a stable environment to work with food and water becomes available, we would like to work and set up teams to rotate in/out on a regular basis. There will much work in the months to come. The number of docs, nurses, emt, etc asking to part of the team is incredible. We want to facilitate all your wishes to do good but in an orderly manner working together and with other aid groups. Long term we would like to see the ND Haiti Program come out stronger to help serve those Haitians in need.
In addition I believe that they will eventually ask civilian docs, nurses, etc to help out on the USNS Comfort or other facility. One of the pleasures over the past few weeks was to work with Commander Nobrega and Major Powell at Southern Command. I've talked with them at 6 am and midnight in the same day and through the weekend. They are in a very difficult situation but always willing to try and help us. I did try to bribe them with tickets to ND-Navy and ND-Army (at Yankee Stadium) in return for our own Black Hawk. Obviously I'm still working on it.
I'll keep you all informed of the progress. Again, many thanks to Constellation Brands for connecting all the points of service. Thanks to my home institution RGH and its staff for all the help. Many, many thanks to all the InteVol volunteers working in the warehouse.
January 22, 2010
Hello to all from Leogane,
In Brief –
The Good - The group of docs and supplies (over 3000 lbs. medical supplies, meds and food collected by InterVol) have all made it to the ND residence.
The Bad – Leogane is as bad if not worse than what is reported.
Our new favorite word is “fluid”. Our trip preparation and final means of transportation illustrates this point. Originally the Constellation Brand planes (2) where to fly us to Santo Domingo and the military was going to helicopter us into PAP then ground transport to Leogane. On the night this was planned we could not get final confirmation from South Com and were on a standby basis. We have been networking with other aid groups who are working in Leogane. They set up an air bridge from Santiago, DR to Leogane using Caravan prop plans. The problem was there is no airport in Leogane. Jean Marc Brissau (ND Haiti Program Site Director) working with the UN and other aid agencies (more about that later) blocked off an initial section of a road – 1200 ft – cleared trees and shrubs, etc and now you have instant airport. They are running 3 shuttles per day of 2 plans each. Each plan can take about 2-3000 pound of weight. Our landing was better than any Disney ride I’ve been on.
Jean Marc has been doing a great job working with the other aid agencies on the ground and with the UN who was here locally before the quake. He is notified by the flight crew when the planes are to arrive. He then coordinates with the UN troops who block off the road and provide crowd control. There is a small refugee adjacent to the landing site and crowds of very hungry people come out looking for food and water. The supplies are then loaded into 3-4 trucks form the ND house and Hospital St Croix and transferred back to the residence.
The trip to the residence took us through central Leogane. Pure devastation!! No earth movers or search groups seen, yet hundreds of collapsed buildings and you know there are people in them.
The field in front of the ND residence is now become a small town of either homeless people living in tents of small make shift shelters. Most are afraid to sleep indoors. We had another aftershock last night. We are all meeting inside the residence. I didn’t know some of my friends could run that fast to get outside. One of the vols told us about the 4 second rule – you have 4 seconds to get out or ?
Most impressive is how all the local aid groups who have been working in Leogane for years are now coordinating efforts to work together. Jean Marc and the ND Haiti program folks have really excelled. The ND residence is used for coordination and communication – internet.
Next to the residence is a nursing school which is still standing. A group of docs working with World Wide Vision, Save the Children, Children’s Nutrition Program turned it into a make shift hospital. They had one surgeon – Craig from Wisconsin – a spine surgeon- among the group of docs and he made a makeshift operating room form a dorm room. The conditions are rather primitive by any standard but he made it work. The nursing students are helping. They have set up a triage station and pharmacy with a pharmacist from Iowa who has database and inventoried the meds coming in and used. Actually there is a small group from Iowa.
After being here only a few hours Craig came over and asked for help on a complex hand injury. Patient had an avulsion injury to his wrist with nerve and tendon injury. The wound was already 8 days old with little aliens moving in. 2 of us in the group do hand surgeries and we have 2 anesethiologists who brought some of our favorite drugs for iv sedation and we went to work. He not only lost skin but lacerated his median nerve and 4 flexor tendons. Something we routinely do in the States but under these conditions.
Later that night we all got together to talk on how we can we can coordinate efforts. Even though it over a week since the quake there is little that has made it to Leogane, let along the outside smaller communities. People have no means to get the injured to our make shift hospital, so they are sending group out to bring them in – usually by carrying them in a stretch of blankets. It should be noted that while we need doctors and nurses – it has to be the right ones or they will only burden the overall effort. This is little to no infrastructure and one has to provide everything. Many want to help, but it has to be organized with the right people. The various groups on the ground are trying to do this.
What is critical is getting food and distribution. Unfortunately much of the food is not getting to those who need it the most. Jean Marc is working with the local UN contingent to explain how it should be done.
There seems to be medical supplies starting to come in and the other groups have access to more. What is needed now:
- Ortho surgical instruments
Please click here or a full list of items needed for the Haiti Relief effort
January 23, 2010
AM – Left on the 7:30 prop plane that brought in more of the InterVol supplies (5th plane load) from Santiago. We arrived in Santiago and picked up 8 Haitians- 4 adults and 4 children- who were flown out of Leogane the night people. This was also arranged by Jean Marc. The Constellation Brand plane’s pilot offered to fly back anyone who we could evacuate. These folk lost their home and had family back in the States. We had a little issue with customs in North Carolina but worked it out. One of the children was a US citizen. We brought them to a private area upon return to Rochester (word leaded out to press) and Ginny Clark from Constellation (who was with all the way to Leogan) arrange transportation to their family in Brooklyn.
Got a report that the remaining docs on the ground did 11 surgeries in the make shift OR today.
Much more to come.
January 25, 2010
Since returning I have acquired the needed surgical equipment form Rochester General Health Systems and others in the Rochester Community including electrocautery, suction, jet lavage, surgical instruments, etc. Constellation Brands has generously offered the use of their aircraft again to get these urgently needed equipment to Santiago, DR along with a new team of doctors from RGH. They will give a well needed break to those who are there. We plan on leaving Friday but as always - this is fluid. We will use the same air bridge using Caravan Prop to Leogane. This is a joint effort by all those groups - Children's Nutrition Program, Save the Children USA, Go Ministries, ND Haiti Program, One World Vision - who are working on the ground.
On my last trip I shot video and digital photos. With the help of Constellation and a local video producer they put together an informational video about the trip, conditions on the ground and our efforts to help.
More to come...
||January 25, 2010
Dear InterVol Benifactors,
Thank you for all of the thoughts and prayers sent to me, my friends, and my family over the past week. I was fortunate to be among the first evacuated by the 82 Airborne Division late last Friday morning after a long sojourn from Port au Prince to Leogane, and then back again. I am currently working at the InterVol headquarters in Rochester to get relief to my dear friends in Leogane. We already successfully deposited over 3,000 lbs of medical supplies and plan to continue shipments. What I experienced in Port au Prince and in the improvised field hospitals of Leogane has given me new perspective on my life and is motivating me to continue the fight to bring basic food, clothing, shelter, and medicine to Haiti. I plan to embrace the proverb, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and draw upon this experience in the future. I believe that what I experienced last week should be shared. It’s for this reason I have agreed to make this post.
Read Joey's account of the earthquake in Haiti and it's aftermath
February 1, 2010
- Dermatomes and Canadians
- New Field Hospital
It was a very eventful day. It started with the usual singing from the refugee camp and ended with a Canadian special observation unit spending the night on our roof checking things out.
The mornings are very peaceful. The air is much cooler and tolerable. The roosters are all doing their thing and we can’t figure out way they haven’t become diner. Singing is followed by sunrise. This morning the lines for the clinic started early and stretched from the nursing school (AKA Leogane Shock Trauma Hospital – LSTH) back to the Notre Dame residence. By the end of the day the medial team had processed over 300 patients with various problems. As I noted prior the doctors and nurses are from many areas in the US working with various NGOs such as World Wide Village and the University of Iowa group, Children’s Nutrition Program, Save the Children and InterVol through the Notre Dame Haiti Program. All are working well together because our end goal is the same.
Our group is mostly surgery and anesthesia. We got a good workout yesterday. It was would closure day. Most wounds have followed a very similar pattern. They are big, located on the lower extremity outer leg or dorsal foot. Back home we would simply use a dermatome and harvest a split graft. It would not take long. We have no dermatome so all grafting was done free hand taking full thickness grafts. This is a laborious and tedious process due to the size of the grafts we had to harvest. Most had to be taken from the lower abdomen and when we closed the donor site it looked as if we did abdominoplasties on our patients. It wasn’t so bad for the older women who multiple pregnancies but was a little unusual for the children and teenagers. Our biggest concern is post op healing. We have no inpatient capability and patients are sent back home – aka refugee camp – to return for post op wound checks.
LSTH has become a referral hospital. Word was out about our 3 makeshift operating rooms and ragtag team of surgeons, anesthesia, nurses, ER docs, primary care, EMTS, pharmacist, etc and many other groups are sending patients to us to treat. We had 3 patients sent from a Canadian Field Team for skin grafting. The Canadian Military has set up a mobile 100 bed hospital about a 10 minute car ride from the ND residence. Since they are new , they are mostly empty (that will change). We were visited by their docs and asked if we could admit our post op patients for proper care. Their docs had no problem with it but we had to get an OK from the administrators. This has yet to happen. Hard to believe – we are working in a school with no place to put patients, while this air conditioned field hospital sits almost empty. What the hell gives! If I had a bus, we would move the patients and get squatters rights. Hopefully this will change today.
We don’t need access to their unity for long. A benefactor donated a 50 bed field hospital with 1 real operating room to World Wide Vision. Their president Randy Mortensen was on site yesterday trying to get it set up for our combined group’s use. The problem – we needed bull dozer to prepare the site or there was a chance they would pull the unit which is being delivered in over 50 large crates. My first trip to Leogane was over a week ago and despite the 80-90 % destruction I have yet to see a bull dozer. A strange thing happened – a bull dozer appeared in the early evening and graded the field.
We had an urologic emergency this morning requiring the expertise of the 8th member of our group who is from Florida and a fellow domer (class of 74) – Marty Dineen. We had an older gentlemen with present with severe abdominal pain , swelling in the lower abdomen and an indwelling urinary catheter that was clotted. Marty quickly analyzed and treated the patient but the we still couldn’t answer the long term question - where does he go for further treatment . This is becoming more of an issue as access to health care facilities is little or nil in areas affected by the quake.
That evening we were visited by a Canadian Observation Team who spent the evening on our roof to observe the community and various refugee areas. They were a great group of guys who let us look through their night vision and thermal camera equipment. It is amazing what you can see in the dark. They left in the morning and were replace by another unit which spent the day. This type of company we don’t mind.
Side note – Our water system
After the quake safe drinking water was an issue. The first InterVol group working with Jean Marc and the ND Haiti Program was able to bring in 2 reverse osmosis units which now provide clean drinking water at the ND residence for all the groups working together.
February 2, 2010
- International Cooperation
- ND Haiti Program’s new ambulance service
- Leogane Shock Trauma initiates Plastic Surgery Training Program
- Field Hospital Update
Oh so much to write about. Yesterday was a very eventful day. It started with an incident with the UN Sri Lanka which I can’t write about. Let’s just say we ended up with the Canadian Military and US Marines visiting the ND residence. By the end of the day all things were settled but we instituted new rules for all working here.
The day started early with patients lining up at daybreak. Over 200 patients showed up today and were processed by the triage team of docs and nurses (see Morning line up)
The surgical team started another day of wound reconstruction of extremity injuries using the LSTH protocol of full thickness skin graft from the lower abdomen (patients get a free tummy tuck). We also did a median nerve reconstruction, forearm tumor, complex scalp and facial wounds on kids, etc. We are still seeing wounds from earthquake over 3 weeks ago that have not been treated. (See photo child head injury, operating rm 2)
Presently we have 2 plastic surgeons (Pennino and Smith). We have no replacements in the near future so we decided to start a training program. It is called the LSTH Plastic Surgery Residency. It is a brief 1 week intense program covering the basics of wound reconstruction. Andy Smith is Program Director. Marty Dineen, MD (ND ‘74) is the program’s first resident. He has previous background in skin harvesting ( circumcisions). He is now expanding it to cover larger wounds
We also have been getting many OB referrals. Dr Chris is now our lone OB/GYN doc and seems to have a few deliveries per day (see OB Room) . Yesterday was very different. Late morning one pregnant mom developed a toxic pregnancy. We are not equipped to handle this situation. The only unit in the area with a ventilator was the Cuban Medical Mission on the outskirts of town. We quickly mobilized the ND truck which was transformed into Leogane’s new ambulance service . Talk about international and inter religious cooperation. Where else would you have a Jewish doctor on a Catholic pick up truck taking a Haitian pregnant mom to a Cuban medical unit. Later that day a similar event occurred. This time Pat Riggs jumped into action as paramedic for the trip . We all learn to adapt to whatever is needed to care for the patients. The hardest part is our lack of medical assets. This group of docs, nurses and allied medical has done remarkable things with few assets. Things will hopefully get better when the field hospital gets finished. Today they brought in truckloads of gravel for the base. This was quickly leveled. They are to put the base floor in later in the day. They say it may be done by the weekend, just in time for the new surgical team.
Present plans call for us to return home this weekend. InterVol working with our partners is trying to coordinate a new surgical and anesthesia team. This is in the works and as always – very fluid.
More to come.
February 3, 2010
- First Pt Transfer to USNS Comfort
- LSTH graduates first Plastic Surg Resident
- Update on Filed Hospital
Another busy day. Patients continue to come in large numbers. We are now seeing our first post op check on the many full thickness skin grafts. Haitians are amazing. Most of these wound reconstructions would be admitted if done back home. They were sent home which is usually a tent, usually they had to walk there on crutches. So far - we have had good take on all grafts. The complex facial closures are also doing well. We continue to various surgeries in addition to wound reconstructions and facial trauma. We have had a number of interesting tumors and even a large sliding inguinal hernia. My hat off to Marty on this one.
Speaking of Marty - he graduated last night . We had a small graduation ceremony at the Notre Dame Residence complete with diploma (see photo). Our guest speaker was going to be President Obama (after all he did one for ND) but they couldn't land Air Force 1 on the Leogane International Airport runway. We offered to fly him on the Tradwinds Caravan Prop but the Secret Service nixed the idea due to no in-flight meal service. Ahhh - there is always next year.
We had a very sick 5 year boy who was septic with an infected knee. Wit no inpatient capability except for a tent we decided to call the Comfort. The Navy boys came through in a big way. We used the newly decided LSTH ambulance (aka ND pick up truck) to transfer to the LZ (landing zone - see I am really becoming a logistics person). Navy helicopter picked him and transferred him. All done within 2 hours of calling them. Not bad service at all.
The field hospital is becoming a reality. The flooring was put in today. The layout is 6 pods, each measuring 20 by 32 ft. We are all working on how things should be laid out. One downside, no water, latrines but better than what we have now. There are container units that can be purchased that have fully plumed bathroom facilities. Anyone know a donor who like to purchase one?
Our group is eagerly waiting for the next InterVol group to show tomorrow. More about that later.
February 4, 2010
- Other Vols activity outside of Leogane
- Central Supply
- Field Hospital Update
- InterVol Team 3 Arrives
- Plastic Surgery Studs Raise Money
I have yet to talk about what Bill Joyce, EMT and InterVol veteran of many trips (Africa, Haiti, Belize) has been doing. Bill accompanied Save the Children mobile clinics. The US Marines went out to remote villages mostly accessible by 4 wheel drive and/or foot path. They then reported back to various NGOs who sent mobile medical teams. Bill went to villages with Save The Children. They were located 4 and 6 km from Jacmel or about 2 hours by 4 wheel vehicle. At one they treated over 100 patients and the other 25. Most of the wounds were similar to what was seen at out makeshift hospital in leogane - lower extremity and scalp wounds - none treated since the quake. They also provided basic primary care needs (see photos). Again, much destruction of simple buildings. At one village many of the children had not seen a Caucasian before. Bill certainly scared the hell out of them at first but then won them over with his charm.
Emmy Branigan - (or Capt Branigan because she runs a tight ship) is another InterVol veteran nurse. She coordinated all the surgical supplies that were sent down, did inventory and set up the surgical supply room After the first week things got sort of distorted and she straighten things right out. She was able to keep the surgeons happy with their various equipment needs. Fortunately, she had very low need and demanding surgeons (if you believe any surgeon is low maintenance then I have a bridge to sell you in NYC).
Our anesthesia team - Paul Cross and Jeff Wasserman have been outstanding. There wasn't a case they couldn't tackle. They worked as a team and they were always one room ahead of the surgeons. They had to deal with everything from preemies to new born to children to adults. All without an anesthesia machine. One thing for certain, they have now set the standard for what I expect at home - 2 anesthesiologists for everyone of my cases. if they can do it at LSTH, then they can do it at RGH.
Jeff has also been the victim of many pranks. The best was when I told him the hospital lwayer called and said the insurance deal feel through. He was whining and miserable for hours. I was just waiting for him to call Lyle back at the homestead but phone connections were not good. Finally I couldn't watch him suffer anymore and told him the truth. I know I 'll get mine.
Field hospital walls going up today. Hopefully will move in soon.
New InterVol team came today via Leogane International Airport. They arrived at the same time the top UN General and USMC General were leaving from the helicopter landing zone after a meeting. There were USMC soldiers and UN soldiers all over our airstrip. At first I thought it was the new security system for our new airport. The I realized they just wanted to impress the Newbies. This group includes:
Gloria Berent - OR Nurse
Bob Young - Anesthsiologist
Anne Marie Blanchard - PA OB/GYN
Bruce Kleene - Anesthesiologist
Rocco Perrone - Plastics Surgeon
Tomorrow Marty Dineen's buddy comes in to help with ortho - Craig Hankins. We had one plastic surgeon who couldn't make it. Tim O'Connor to the rescue. He will arrive Monday.
Finally Andy Smith and I decided to raise money by posing for SQ - Surgeons Quarterly (similar to GQ but for surgeons) and PlaySurgeon magazines. Attached is our above the neck shot. Wait until you see the whole body shot tomorrow - it is very fluid. The money will be used to help with our ongoing relief efforts. For autographed copies at 100 dollars - just let me know. It's a good cause.
February 5, 2010
- MSF Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders)
- First Preemie Delivered at LSTH
- Final Prop Plane Leaves Leogane International Airport
- NY Times article and video
- InterVol Team 2 comes home
Friday was another day of excitement, international cooperation and sadly InterVol/ND Team 2's last day. But it was adventure packed.
Dr. Benjamin Gold is a Swiss doctor working with MSF who had a small field hospital in downtown Leogane. He stopped by and asked Andy an I to help with a 6 yo child with significant blood loss who lost his all her forehead skin down to exposed bone 3 weeks earlier during the earthquake. They had no access to plastic surgeons. Then word filtered out about the two at the new LSTH. He stopped by and asked if we should come by and consider operating at their Operating Room - outdoors but still very hot. We went by this morning and received a brief interrogation by their anesthesiologist Joe from New Orleans. I guess he thought we were a bunch of yahoo plastic surgeons and was very worried we would get into too much bleeding and leave him in trouble. We kept our cool and said we thought we could perform the surgery (large scalp flap and full thickness graft) with blood loss less than he expected (which is always double of what surgeons say it will be). He was unsure but agreed to proceed. All went well. They had 2 things we didn't. An anesthesia machine (which made us realize how good our guys were doing) and an electrocautery - ah the smell of burnt flesh was never so good. Half way through the case, with bleeding much less than predicted, he said his initial impression of us was wrong and that we were pretty darn good. Now, when Andy and I took off our gowns, the sweat poured out from the inside. It looked like we jumped into a pool - see photo - look at lower legs - only thing dry (this is the fluid reference from yesterday).
Having brought the north and south back together with the aid of a Swiss General Surgeon, we returned to LSTH only to find that our anesthesiologists and medical docs relived a preemie after mom literally showed up at our front door and delivered. The baby was estimated to be around 26-28 weeks turned blue with respiratory distress. Jeff was able to get a few breaths in with an ambu bag larger then the baby's head. the team then got an ET in and started an iv. Now what does one do. The USNS Comfort was full and doesn't take anything less than 30 weeks - lesson learned - always lie about the age. While various docs continue to hand ventilate we were able to transfer to children's hospital in Leogane and the Japanese Military team took the baby there. Not bad for teamwork on all sides.
Team 2 then got ready to leave. There were mixed feelings but it had been a long 8 days and most needed a break. we headed off to Leogane International Airport to catch the last Tradewinds Caravan Prop plane back to Santiago. For insurance reasons, Tradewinds was forces to stop their heroic and life saving flights. Doc, Nurses and pilots were willing to risk their lives to land on this piece of road over 60 times. But the risk assessment folks and the lawyers decided it was too much of a gamble for the insurance company. I could express what I think but have to keep this a PG rated page.
We had 8 that went out on this last plane and I felt I was in a Bogart movie - Casablanca. When we got to Santiago we all thanked and congratulated the pilots. We had 6 hours before our red eye left to JFK. I guess because we looked pretty bad and smelled worse they offered us their hotel rooms to shower. We didn't pass it up and had diner and drinks after.
Earlier in the week the NY Times sent a reported and videographer to do a story on these plane flights. It appeared in print and online at www.nytimes.com/2010/02/05/world/americas/05planes.html
The video connection is on the left partly down the page. For all the InterVol volunteers in Rochester, NY who spent many nights packing medical supply boxes, for RGH who donated much needed equipment and for those who collected so many crutches in the past and wondered what we would ever do with them - check out the video. In the hardest of circumstances the little guys came up big for a little town. Again kudos to Constellation Brands for giving us 4 trips on the corporate jets and Tradewinds for the air bridge to Leogane.
A new InterVol/ND group has taken over and joins the docs/nurses/etc teams coordinated by World Wide Village and the docs from University of Iowa to continue giving care. The walls of the field hospital are up. We have a long way to go. Share this with friends and other colleagues - we will need their help to continue for at least 6 months.
I will continue to provide updates from the folks on the ground but every day.
February 10, 2010
I have started to refer to the two rotating teams InterVol/ND and WWV/Uni of Iowa. This is to keep logistics simple as we coordinate travel groups. Many docs are from other areas and hook up with these 2 groups. All efforts are greatly appreciated and these groups are not restricted. Quite the opposite - we welcome all. As a matter of fact Marty Dineen -full time urologist, recent grad of LSTH Plastic Residency program is now trying to be the "Poet Laureate" of the LSTH. He wrote an ad which I modified slightly that we can use to get more docs as we look to fill the spots for the next 4-6 months:
Dear Fellow Doctor,
Are you doing anything next week? You have been looking a
little run down lately and need a break. What would you say to putting
your entire life on hold, canceling your office and coming here to
Haiti. Most of the world has no clue or won't believe you as to what it
costs you to do something this crazy BUT I can promise you only what
will probably have been the most rewarding -devastating-eye-opening-life
changing experience of my life.
I know this is short notice, but I only got
about 48 hours notice myself -- you could come to Santiago Friday or
Saturday night out of Miami and we could probably get you into Jacmel,
Haiti from there and we would pick you up there and drive you here to
Leogane. You would be a "guest" at the Notre Dame Filariasis
Residence. (Complete with your own chance to catch filariasis, dengue
fever, malaria, etc.)
You'll go home sweaty and exhausted but no nurse
will tell you your H&P isn't done, you haven't marked which side you are
operating on, you didn't dictate your op note and you don't have to
worry about any lawyers. Just a group of incredibly grateful and strong
people who have nothing but an amazing faith, a will to live, and
literally the cloth on their back. They live in tents and little huts
made of corrugated metal and wood pulled from the rubble. Besides it
will give you a chance to brush up on your Creole. We have amazing
people on the ground in the US who are able to help you get here to us.
We need you now and in the next few months. Please help!
I couldn't sum it up any better.
I want to thank the current InterVol/ND team 3 group for giving their time on very short notice. Most had to cancel work, patients and family activities. I can tell you that your patients are proud to have doctors who give, and our institutions - Rochester General Hospital and all its affiliates- has rallied behind you and continue to support us both emotionally, financially and with great pride. These folks include:
Bruce Kleene - anesthesiolgy
Bob Young - anesthesiology
Tim O'Connor - Plastic Surgery
Rocco Perrone - Plastic Surgery Resident under the Plastic Surgery Group of Rochester
Gloria Berent - operating room nurse
Ann Marie Blanchard - PA Ob/Gyn
The next team leaves on 2-11 from Buffalo and will arrive 2-12. Since the Leogane International is closed, they will fly to Jacmel and ND folks will pick them up and transport to Leogane. More to come on this group later.
February 12, 2010
- Field Hospital Update
- Field hospital Name
- Team Marty to Leave
- Team Chuck Staying on
The generator for the field hospital has been delivered and they are working on setting it up. A well is being dug for a water source. Overall thinks are progressing and maybe the facility can be used this week.
Ashley Aakesson (Children's Nutrition Program of Haiti) was happy to report that Bishop Duracin has given his blessing to name the field hospital "Hopital Sainte Croix" under the leadership of World Wide Village until a new permanent facility is built. This is really great new for those you familiar with local politics and allows the group of NGOs who have working hard to continue with community support. We will never forget "Leogane Shock Trauma Hospital" , our home for the first month after the quake. This is where all came together for one purpose, worked together under extreme circumstances even though we came from different groups (NGOs) and parts of the US. It is something I will never forget. The name may change but the spirit and cooperation will continue.
Marty Dineen leaves today. I have to say a few words about his enormous contribution. He joined us on 1 day notice and has stayed an extra week to help transition the surgical teams. Although he does talk my ear off (he is Irish and gives my partner a run for his money), you just have to love his spirit, willingness to help and hard work. Marty has many firsts - first graduate of the LSTH Plastic Residency Program, LSTH Poet Laureate and now he has written his summary of the InterVol/ND team 3 week of activities. He interviewed the members of this team and asked their thoughts about this journey. It is very insightful and a pleasure to read. I would encourage others to put their thoughts, emotions experiences in print as they happen. It is not only therapeutic but helps others understand what we experience. I have taken the liberty to mildly edit some of this manifesto and will share it over the next few days.
- February 6, 2010, Leogane, Haiti
Dr Ralph the rest of the RGH gang departed on the last Tradewinds Caravan flight out yesterday at 4 p.m. from the now world renown Leogane International Airport complete with curbside service, luggage pick up, overhead dusting by UN helicopters, and perimeter protection by US Marines who are happy to be here rather than Afghanistan.
We keep hearing that it is the last but “fluid” has become the operative word and who knows – maybe the PR generated by the video clip will allow them to fly a few more flights. Perhaps the insurance companies back home who are alleged to be the guilty parties for putting a stop to this may change their minds and allow more flights.
- February 12th, Leogane Haiti
I had promised Ralph that I would be his eyes and ears on the ground once he was gone and would be an “Alfred” to his “Batman”. Daily I was to write stories of all that was going on and forward them to our rather extended Notre Dame family so all could keep abreast of what has been going on. Sadly I have failed miserably to do this. I wanted to operate more than administrate. However….
This morning 6 of our people left Leogane for Jacmel and as I write this they are over the skies of Haiti in little flour seat aircraft heading toward Santiago, DR and from there to JFK and onward to Rochester New York (From +95 degrees and relentless sun to -95 degrees and no sun).
Prior to leaving I asked each of the six last night and this morning what they remember of their trip, high points, low points and points in between. I thought I would let their brief comments speak for themselves.
Gloria Berent – Director of Nursing at Rochester General Hospital (I wasn’t to ask for how many years but she admitted to being a Mom to a 22 and 19 year old). Upon arrival she spent three days organizing boxes of operating materials playing “Radar” to our respective “Mash” characters and then became the scheduling board “witch”. Actually in these days of political correctness we cannot publish what she really called herself. You can use your imagination. (We don’t believe that witches have any political standing at the moment and feel safe with that moniker). She came here looking for something “bigger” than herself – can’t really explain it—just something from within.
Most rewarding she found teaching the Haitian nurses to teach other Haitians. With amazing ingenuity she had to make do with what we had. She tried to teach sterile technique. We used the little plastic sheets that came with pre packaged spinal kits someone donated to our anesthesia gang as “sterile drapes”. We operated through the little holes. Anesthesia kept thing sterile in other ways. These sheets then became all the more a challenge as instruments would slip off and on to the floor. Believing they were a help the nurses would often pick these instruments up and put them back on the drape (5 second rule?). So much for sterility!! As surgeons we try anything to get out of wearing a gown. So when Gloria announced that we had to choose between using the gowns to cover our selves or as sterile sheets over the patient, well…… (I think we thought that at 110F the sweat that rolled off of us sterilized itself on the way to the floor if it didn’t drop on to the patient first – all except for Tim O’Connor (Irish refugee and the only person older than Ralph) –we figure he generated 120 degrees from body mass alone and thus rendered his sweat not only bactericidal, but fungicidal, sporacidal and viracidal as well – his spirochetes were resistant however). She organized the PACU and would troll the outside tents sorting through literally hundreds of patients requiring some sort of surgical intervention tasked to our group. Leaving the pure medical needs to the tune of 150 to 300 patients a day to our brethren from World Wide Village (University of Iowa and others).
Gloria found hardest turning away those with huge hernias and horribly disfiguring/disabling hydroceles that just aren’t safe to do now. It is our prayer that Notre Dame can continue this work under sterile conditions in a few months' time. Gloria and others would clean wounds and dress them only to find them crawling with maggots the next day which for most tends to ease off one’s appetite (except for mine (aka Dr Big Tummy) and Dr O’Connor’s). It turns out that there are good maggots and bad. (Funny -- the things you learn here). The good maggots tend to clean the house and make for a tidy wound. The bad maggots tend to bury down deep within the wound prior to departing this earth and make for a mess in their quarters. Damned if I can tell the difference. That said, we have the bad maggots.
Speaking of nursing students most were staying here at the school on the day of the quake. Many don’t know yet the fate of their parents or siblings. Several live far away and with no phones, no mail, no communication, well…. (some of these sentences are just too tough to complete without tearing up). At the end of the day they go home with a small ration of food (rice +) and return the next day ready for work looking better/cleaner than most Americans. How they do this is amazing to all of us who feel like we have been at Camp Tapakegabeer for a week (or Notre Dame for a semester in the 70’s) and have yet to see a shower (even though we have access to one). Martha (28 years old) was the valedictorian of last year’s nursing class and has stayed to help Hilda (Dean of the Students) with the needs of the students. Her English is excellent and she routinely makes fun of my Creole (essentially non – existent). She runs around our make shift OR helping our DON’s (in this case Gloria) translate our needs to the students. One night I asked Jean Marc Brissau where he was off to. He said he was giving Martha a ride home. Thinking that could be miles away I asked where that was. “On the street like everybody else.”
Anne Marie Blanchard. Works at Clinton OB-GYN. She received a call from Cindy – volunteer coordinator for Intervol who put out the word for a PA in OB. A need to help, a special time in her life, a VERY supportive husband (leaving him with their five kids ages 13 to two) brought her here with 36 hours notice.
The fortitude of the people was most amazing to Anne Marie. A lady would have her baby and within 15 minutes and be heading back to her shack/shanty/tarp, etc. She did one C-section with Headlamps (coal miner lights) sewing a torn urethra literally standing on her head. She went on to deliver 12 more children with what she describes as the best anesthesia team in the world. Although grateful to have been part of a great team and to be able to do what she could she was frustrated that she could not deliver better care because of a “lack of sufficient/proper medicine”. While “going to a place that is going to tear my heart out” she went on to describe a baby that couldn’t breast feed but was sent home anyhow. She describes that some nights “you just want to go back and cry your heart out.”
Yet she went on to describe a vaginal delivery with no fetal heart tones. They were able to intubate the child and found a facility in PAP to accept the child in transfer. Stuck in traffic they ran out of oxygen. Realizing the baby surely would die without the oxygen they had no choice but to extubate the child and let God’s will be done. Evidently His will was done and now two days later we have heard that the baby is alive and well. She believes that things hardest in our lives probably become the most meaningful of experiences. We are not asked to carry a cross heavier than we can handle. She feels that none of us have been able to do enough but is most proud of fixing up the OB room to the extent she was able leaving it in good shape for the crew arriving tonight. No matter what you read or hear in our news media the Haitian people are grateful that we are here. “Did you really leave your family to help us?”
Marty's Report - to be continued...
Final note on Craig Hankins. Over 1 week ago we were short an orthopedic doc for a few days. Marty made one phone call and within 24 hours on the last flight into Leogane International came Craig Hawkins. You knew he had to be a friend of Marty - even if he is a Gator - to come without any notice to help. And in Marty's tradition - he is staying on another week to help transition our new group :
Bill Willet PA
Rachel Nesbitt RN (trauma/icu)
Cindy Babcock (nurse anesthetist)
Krystof Neumann MD (Anesthesia)
Gary Tebor MD (ortho incl pediatrics)
Johann Piquion MD (OB/GYN)
Jean Joseph, MD (urol)
We are very fortunate that Jean, Johann and Rachel are all from Haiti. They now live and practice in Rochester, NY. I wish their team the best.
As always, more to come tomorrow.
Valentine's Day Haiti Update - February 14, 2010
This will be my shortest update to date. A much longer one will be coming out within the next day.
I wanted to devote this update to say "Many Thanks" to all the spouses, significant others, family and friends who have supported the volunteers working both in Haiti and back in the States (or elsewhere). Although the volunteers have put in countless hours, days and sometimes weeks, they couldn't do it without the support of family and friends. I just wanted to recognize their contribution - which is only appropriate for the Valentine's Day update. Again many thanks!!
February 16, 2010
- Field Hospital - Hospital Sainte Croix officially opens
On Sunday Feb 14 the docs, nurses, staff started moving into the new field hospital donated to World Wide Village which will be named Hospital Sainte Croix. Two cases were done in the new operating room. 12 -15 more were scheduled for the next day. Attached are photos courtesy of Kara Talesmanick.
This is a major step in our efforts to provide care But we still have a long way to go. The current structure is a shell which needs to be outfitted. Some of the basic things needed are:
- Water supply (running water not from buckets)
- Oxygen source
- Equipment for the operating room - operating room table(s), delivery table, anesthesia machine, monitors, sterilization equipment and supplies, etc
This is to mention just a few. But one should realize and take thanks that we have come a long way in the past 4-5 weeks. When working out of Leogane Shock Trauma - the nursing school - the number of patients seen and operations performed was miraculous given the circumstances, the fact we started with nothing, had to bring all supplies in and recruit docs/nurses/support staff on practically no notice. Over 7,000 patients have been evaluated and treated, over 250 operations performed and we are averaging 2-3 deliveries per day, many by c-section. Incredible is an understatement!
We must keep the effort going and try to remind others the need is still great. The Olympics will distract most of the world from the continued need. As we start we the rainy season - a whole set of problems will start. Please share these updates with as many as possible to keep the interest.
Please look for anyone interested in donating needed equipment. Full needs list to come.
February 22, 2010
- Corporate Support
- Field Hospital Transition
The events of the past 5 weeks has been a marriage between long standing programs providing various types of help/aid to Haiti (Leogane in particular), various NGOs, government and corporate. Some of these organizations include:
The University of Notre Dame's Haiti Program (http://haiti.nd.edu/) has been working for almost 20 years to help eradicate lymphatic filariasis which afflicts over 20 % of the Haitian population. The ND residence (know as Residence Filarose) has served as the command center for the various groups working to provide aid. In the past few years ND alumni doctors have been making routine surgical missions to treat the secondary effects of LF - hydroceles in men (over 200,000).
World Wide Village (http://www.worldwidevillage.org/) has been focused on Haiti prior to the quake with nutrition and micro enterprise programs. Two of their doctors - Chris Buresh and Josh White started a Community Health Initative in Leogane years ago. These teams of doctors have/are providing medical care on a regular basis.
Children's Nutrition Program of Haiti (http://cnphaiti.org/index.html) has been working in Haiti, specifically Leogane, since 1998. Their programs address infant and child nutrition.
There are many more groups (Save the Children, etc) which are involved and will be discussed at a later time. The purpose of this update is to thank the various corporate donors who have contributed in so many ways. The recent downturn in US economy has caused most to view the corporate world in a very negative way. Their are many exceptions. Some corporations/benefactors just do the right thing. Their are many examples that all the above organizations can share. I would like to spotlight a Rochester based corporation - Constellation Brands. They provided a total of 4 corporate jets (Falcon 900 - think big plane) over a 1 week period to transport docs, nurses and 8,000 lbs of needed medical/surgical supplies. This was within the first 2 weeks after the quake when it was hard to get anything into PAP let alone Leogane. That was coupled with the air bridge from Santiago, DR coordinated by CNP. Recently a volunteer from the InterVol/ND Team 1 wrote a thank you to Constellation that says it all. I would like to share portions of that letter with you.
February 18, 2010
The Constellation Family
207 High Point Dr., Bldg. 100
Victor, New York 14564
Dear Constellation Family,
Sleep, even three weeks later, does not come peacefully. The screams from amputations being performed without anesthesia as we first arrived in Leogane, Haiti. The premature child dying in my arms, sitting in the back of a U.S. Marine humvee awaiting an evac helicopter, mother at my side as I pumped on her premature infant’s chest. Watching a man swinging a sledgehammer, on top of a four-foot pile of rubble that was once his two-story home, knowing that a loved one was entombed just below. The suffering and tears were immense. The memories are still vivid and raw.
Then, I rise up, open my computer, and look upon other photos – this time brining a smile and the deepest personal and professional satisfaction of my life.
These pictures, and hundreds of others, would not have been possible if not for the Constellation family – employees, management, and pilots. Too often the credit for medical success goes to a select few. However, the story of our successes in Haiti is akin to a beautifully tuned engine – it takes all eight cylinders working together in harmony to cruise down the road. So be careful of taking a picture of just one cylinder – the other seven are also humming along as a team. Many of those cylinders were the Constellation family.
Each time we tore open a box in haste, trying to meet yet another crisis situation, the vision of the Constellation staff who met to pack the boxes, label the contents, and load the medical equipment came to mind. All of you gave of your time, energy, and love to enable the mission, and without your efforts we could not have succeeded. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts as our work would have been impossible without you. Your care and concern rose from the supplies and filled our work.
To the pilots of Constellation – Paul, Richard, Rick, Dave J., Chris, Dave T., – you were simply amazing. First and foremost, you got our teams there safely and professionally. But upon arrival you were then out on the ramp in the sultry heat helping us move boxes, handing out water, ushering us through customs, and in the final scene for me sitting at the side of an elderly Haitian woman, terrified at now being in this strange land of America, comforting her and promising to stay with her no matter how long it took for her new family to arrive at the airport.
Ginny Clark, with her amazing blend of professionalism, compassion, and laughter will forever be a friend of mine and of the Haitian people. Greeting us with a cheery smile on the freezing Rochester runway, allowing us to feel that Constellation supported our every effort, sharing tears as we drove amongst the ravaged homes and thousands of homeless living in bed sheet tents as we approached our soon to be hospital (a partially destroyed nursing school dormitory building) or holding a Haitian infant on his way to a new home safely aboard the returning jet. Ginny was simply a magnificent representative of Constellation, and continues to this day to support the overwhelming need for continued relief efforts in Haiti.
Finally, to Mr. Rob Sands, Mr. Richard Sands, and the entire Constellation Management Team, I stand in awe. In these difficult economic times challenging corporate profits and P/E fixated stockholders, you simply chose to do the right thing. The gift of your jets was magnanimous beyond belief, critical to our mission, and I am sure representative of the human compassion by which you manage Constellation. The earthquake happened over five weeks ago, but to this day teams still cannot get into Haiti smoothly. Your decision to allow Constellation support to this effort came with swiftness critical to saving lives, unconcerned with the cost, and that is in the end what literally saved the lives and limbs of so many.
Tonight, when you slip into bed, try and remember the faces on the two photos I have shared. There are many, many more like those children. Photos showing children, and their parents, who will awaken along with you to a brighter day - a day made possible by your sacrifices. To share a simple Creole word expressing gratitude on behalf of the entire medical team, and all those in Haiti we were able to touch, let me simply say “mesi” – thank you. It is a simple word, but one deeply felt by all of us on Teams Leogane I and II. You allowed all of us, working together, to enable the Haitian people to begin living out another Creole phrase, “pazapa” – step by step.
Daniel J. Towle, M.D.
Team Leogane I, VII
The transition into the field hospital - Hospital Sainte Croix - continues. It is no different than setting up a new hospital from scratch. The biggest issue is getting inventory control. We are now database what we have and what we need. It may sound simple, but with new teams coming in and out every 7-9 days - it remains difficult. Most docs, especially surgeons - aren't into inventory or inventory control. They are now learning how importance many of the "back room" functions that we take for granted back home.
As always - more to come
Team Leogane 1,2,6,7
February 24, 2010
- Doctor Updates
- Americares and Zimmer
- Dr. Dan Alexander and his C-arm
Many of recent group of docs have been sending me updates of their experience both patient and other:
Dr. Joe Bardenheier writes:
The three aftershocks we have had were a little startling but as far as I know no harm done except they wake up the dogs who raise a fuss for a few minutes.
Dr. Doug Hargrave writes "The experience has been great... " He goes on to tell of an interesting case. We have all seen our share of problems we don't encounter back in the States. More to come when I get pictures.
David Cywinski MD writes:
"Thanks for your email, it really gets to the heart of the issue: helping people. The clinic remains extremely busy while the hospital (portable OR) continues to be in the stages of transition. Everyone here is functioning at their capacity bringing their special skills and talents to this process. At the heart of this is logistics. If I could put a wish list together, it would include a logistician that was a constant from week to week so that the wheel would stop being reinvented. The physicians could then focus on delivering medical care, in the clinic and in the hospital, not to mention mobile clinics. As it has been said "It takes a village to raise a child." This clinic and hospital are children that need the talents of many.
It continues to amaze me how much you can get done from the states to help the people of Haiti, I want to thank you for this."
Dr Dan Alexander writes:
"We all are working hard, seeing patients and stocking supplies. Yesterday we saw about 300 people (about 80 ortho). Lots of wound care including open fracture treatment, casts on and off. Many patients with fever/diarrhea, especially kids- the effects of unclean drinking water. We continue to handout thousands of water purification tablets after clinic in town. The haitian people are incredibly grateful for this. "
Dan is also one of many who have made significant donations to the cause. It may take a village to raise a child but it takes a lot of money to build a hospital. Fortunately we have many generous donors. Dan donated his C-arm fluoro unit from his office. we are arranging to place it on the 40 ft conatiner leaving Rochester next week for Leogane.
Joe Bardenheier told about a donation from Zimmer via Americares of a dermatome for a recent trip he had to Vietnam to do relief. I followed up with both and happy to say Zimmer donated 11,000 dollars worth of equipement which include an electric dermatome, blades and the motor to run it. I plan to bring it down with me next week during my next trip. Don't forget about the very generous donation of a field hospital to WWV. In addition the Notre Dame Haiti Program has purchased 250 tents and 3,000 lbs of food for the container next week in addition to the ongoing housing facilities in Leogane.
Joey Leary has been amazed at all the help with donations. He states it feel like a wedding shower except the bride is our new hospital and the gifts are medical supplies, equipment, food and housing.
I am sure there will be more coming. Many thanks for all the efforts to date.
February 26, 2010
- Surgical Team 5 Update
- Fund raising – Canadian Style
- Canada Leaving -
Supplies 5 truck loads and fencing
Help with nursing – after they beat us in Hockey
It has been over a week since I last wrote and much has happened. I am presently back in Haiti – a travel story in itself – but I’ll write a series of updates to catch up. Please check out our new facility in Photo 11 by ND photographer Matt Cashore.
We will start with Surgical Team 5 and Paul Cabral. It is nice to hear from summary reflections as it gives the best picture of how the hospital is growing and maturing. Paul writes:
"So the week has ended and spending 18 hours a day working has left me sore feet, but energized. While there is a lot to be done, allot has been accomplished.
This week we performed 85 surgeries, saw hundreds of patients if not a thousand of patients.
We opened an inpatient adult ward where we hydrated patients overnight, treated infections with iv antibiotics and housed post op abdominal cases.
We had a 24 hour Ed where we fixed lacerations in the middle of might caused by fights or accidents.
We had a inpatient pediatric ward where we nursed preemie twins who delivered in a taxi on the way to the hospital and another who was dehydrated.
Obstetrically we delivered 6 children and performed 1 c section. Helped with a variety other needs.
Logistically ,completed the move of the surgical unit to the hospital, cleaned up the nursing school. Set up or and inpatient unit and minor procedure room. We turned Wal-Mart into central stores. We organized as much as we can. There is allot more to do."
Fund Raising Events accomplishes 2 things – it obviously raises needed money to keep this program going but also keeps awareness of the ongoing needs in Haiti. Americans are used to quick fixes. We have a problem and want it fixed immediately and on to the next issue. Haiti will take years.
This week the Rochester Community came out in full force. Good friend and master chef Tony Gulace organized “Rochester and InterVol for Haiti” at the Memorial Art Gallery. Despite a blizzard, over 150 people turned out for an evening of gospel, soul and jazz music featuring the Campbell Brothers and various eating stations by the top chefs of Rochester. The event raised over 13,000.
The Canadian Military had set up a field hospital just on the outskirts of Leogane. The Canadian Military is responsible for this sector of Haiti. Over the past 6 weeks we have been working together both medically and on other community projects. The field hospital will be closing its’ doors in the next week (60 day mission finished). The staff decided to have a fund raiser to help a local orphanage that was destroyed by the quake – Canadian Style – hey! 4 hirsute soldiers from the medical unit were offered to the medical staff to have their whiskers cut by the highest bidder. Obviously they picked a bunch of GQ stud looking guys knowing that it would attract many of the many female soldier bidders who were only egged on by their male coworkers to bid higher. I believe the highest bid went for 190 dollars and that was US bucks. It was a painful but fun shave for the winner. (See photos 14-16)
Sean Farrell- aka “radar” (for those of you old enough to remember MASH) has been volunteering in Haiti for over 4 weeks. He has done a bit of everything but is responsible for developing a great relationship with the Canadians. This has resulted in 5 truck loads of medical supplies (see photo 18) delivered to our hospital include surgical and medical supplies, drugs and wood for a fence to built around the new hospital. Simply amazing – hey! In addition the Canadians have been sending over nurses (disparately needed) to help in our field hospital. We are greatly appreciative but noted they started coming the day after they beat us in the Olympic Hockey Finals – coincidence – I don’t think so – hey!
I have much more to come.
July 21, 2010
Long Overdue Haiti Update: Part I
“Six moths after the earthquake that brought aid and attention here from around the world, the median strip camp blends into the often numbing wretchedness of the post disaster landscape. Only 28,000 of the 1.5 million Haitians displaced by the earthquake have been moved into new homes. . . ”
Pazapa is the Creole term for step by step. It seems the steps are not happening fast enough in Haiti. Since I last wrote three months have gone by. I apologize for not giving an update sooner. While progress is measured at glacial speed overall, our work in Leogane continues to evolve at a more accelerated pace. Our immediate goal was to help quake victims. This transitioned then into stabilizing healthcare in the Leogane, Haiti. The eventual goal is a transition to Haitian control. We are now in our 26th week of operation and still changing volunteer teams of US doctors, nurses, pharmacists, techs, aides, etc. every week. It is amazing that we have been able to maintain this pace, but it is a tribute to the ongoing working relationship between the Notre Dame Haiti Program, World Wide Village, InterVol, and special help from other NGO’s such as Hands-On Disaster Relief. But this pace cannot be maintained and shouldn’t be. It is time to transition to a Haitian run health system supported and supplemented by our efforts where and when needed. I will review this in more detail but first I want to bring you up-to-date on our activities at the HSC Field Hospital Annex (affectionately known at the Leogane Shock Trauma Center).
First the Numbers:
Through the end of June more than 25,000 Haitian patient interactions have been noted at the 50 bed mobile hospital and clinics. About 250 babies have been delivered and over 700 surgeries performed. Equipment and supplies have been shipped in on a regular basis whose value totals well over one-half million dollars. We have been aided by the Hands-On Disaster Relief (HODR) volunteers who have helped build shelving and inventoried our supplies. Remember, one needs more than doctors and nurses to run a healthcare facility. There is an entire infrastructure that needed to be created to allow the medical teams to treat patients.
This past March, Haitian Diocese Bishop Duracin, the Archbishop of Capetown – Thabo Mkgoba and the Bishop of Convocation of American Churches in Europe – Pierre Whalon, participated in the consecration and dedication of the hospital/clinic facility. This is an important moment as it showed our intent to work with the local Haitian health facility – Hopital Ste. Croix for an eventual transition. It was important that the field hospital be blessed by the bishop.
Fr. John's Visit
The day before the dedication we were visited by Father John Jenkins and many administrative staff from Notre Dame including Frances Shavers and Lou Nanni. Joining them, John Nagy, staff writer for the Notre Dame magazine and Matt Cashore, staff photographer for the Notre Dame magazine. This was truly an inspiring visit especially for us of the Notre Dame family. Words about commitment are one thing, but visiting the disaster area was very powerful and sent a very strong message. Father John toured our facility, walked the streets (see photo) of Leogane, and had a special presentation for those Haitians afflicted with lymphatic filariasis. It was all a very moving experience and gave one cause to continue the effort despite the conditions. John Nagy and Matt Cashore documented the efforts of Notre Dame and its partners in an excellent article published in the Notre Dame Magazine Summer Edition. Matt Cashore also published a video tape which explains where we have been, what we are doing, and where we hope to go. This is available at the following web link: http://magazine.nd.edu. Please see the accompanying article by John Nagy titled “Pazapa”. Also there is a great panoramic by Matt: http://magazine.nd.edu/news/15978.
World Wide Village has taken a responsibility of the administration of the hospital facility and assumed the major portion of cost to administer it. Well over $200,000 to date. Over the ensuing months the transition to Haitian control started. Over 135 Haitian staff members were hired in various capacities to work at the hospital over this time period. At our peak we have employed 70 Haitians, including medical providers like doctors and approximately 20 nurses to help run the facility. The hospital portion is run seven days a week. There is an emergency room that is open 24/7. Surgeries are conducted as determined by the needs and the type staff that are visiting from the states. There has been interaction with the local Haitian surgeons, particularly urologists. This is to help with the hydrocele program.
Other memorable events in the past few months include Leogane Shock Trauma Center’s first delivery of twins. This was done by Rochester OB/Gyn and InterVol volunteer Shawn Stephans working with a local Haitian urologist. These twins were immediately cared for by Notre Dame alums Mary O’Connor and Al LaReau. Please see the accompanying photo. The term “double domers” is now re-defined. There are many other memorable stories and events that have taken place. I will devote subsequent emails on these topics. They will include the volunteer efforts of Notre Dame alum and InterVol volunteer extraordinaire Sean Farrell and his efforts with the “Leogane Track Club” and Lamb Center, which is an orphanage that was destroyed in Leogane. Sean has been working well over four months and has taken on the role of “Radar O’Reilly” from the MASH series.
As I noted earlier we are now in a period of transition. It is important that we reestablish Haitian control of the hospital at its original site. The guest house was destroyed during the quake. The two-story structure is damaged beyond repair. There is a remaining three-story structure which is usable. Presently the first floor of this unit is being cleaned and renovated with hopes of being the transition site for the field hospital. More on this to come within the next four to six weeks.
We have started a new tradition which hopefully will continue into the near future. Joey Leary, ND Class of ’09 started this tradition by delaying medical school for one year to work with Notre Dame Haiti program as an InterVol volunteer. Joey is responsible for starting to organize “Emil’s Army”. As you recall, these are teams of Notre Dame Alumni doctors and dentists along with their friends and associates who have come to provide support on various medical/surgical missions. This was interrupted by the quake. The traditions of giving back was followed by Brennan Bollman, Class of ’09, who took a leave of absence from her first year of Harvard Medical School to come and work directly in Leogane after the quake. I am now happy to announce that Tristan Hunt, Class of 2010, has elected to delay medical school at Columbia University for one year to give service as an InterVol volunteer in the Notre Dame Haiti program. It will be Tristan’s job to help work with all of our partners to help make the transition a success. At the same time he will start making plans to put together those visiting medical/surgical teams to provide ongoing support for the years to come. Tristan will be aided by another Notre Dame alum, Simone Stickler, Class of 2009. Simone is the director of InterVol’s RUMS (Recycling Unused Medical Supplies) program. She has already sent one 40 foot container to Haiti and is working on the second. This is integral for the continued success of getting back to the baseline health system in Leogane as well as the support needed for Father Tom Streit’s Notre Dame Haiti Program. Tristan will be in touch in the near future updating our plans and requesting your help.
It has been a long six months since the quake. We have much to be grateful for but there is so much more to do. Please do not forget us, your help is needed now more than ever. Thank you for all of those who have supported the ongoing effort in Leogane.
One Year After Haiti - January 12, 2011
InterVol would like to thank you for all your help that has allowed InterVol to do so much for the people of Haiti. Over this year:
-26 medical teams, including over 80 individuals from Rochester traveled to Haiti to assist and bring down supplies
-12 tons of supplies & equipment were sorted, packed and sent by Rochester volunteers via two 40-foot ocean containers and 7 donated corporate jets
-500+ pairs of running shoes, socks and t-shirts were collected by community partners and donated to The Leogane Track Club children
-More than $150,000 has been raised to date, including funds to feed and clothe the orphans at the destroyed Lamb Center
Today our efforts have shifted from sustaining a field hospital to assist with the rebuilding of Hopital Sainte Croix, which is due to open soon, staffed entirely with Haitian staff doctors, nurses, instrument technicians and translators. InterVol also continues to aid the Notre Dame Haiti Program in their mission to eradicate lymphatic filariasis.
InterVol’s success in Haiti and around the world continues to be a direct result of the generosity from the Rochester community.