Haiti Day 2:
Awoke at 730, breakfast was amazing Mangos and pancakes, the coffee is really wonderful, a total surprise since I was expecting to go without a decent cup for days. The night before we reorganized sorting what seems to be around 10 suitcases full of medications. We carted those suitcases to the hospital in the hired van again.
Waiting at the hospital were 6 translators. The translators were all trained by Joel (pronounced Jo-elle) as it turned out. So Susan met Joel with her first trip to Haiti. It turns out that he knows Kreol, French, Spanish and English and acted as a translator for her. He is also very empathic and as it turns out was dreamed of being a surgeon. There are no medical schools in Haiti. Susan, in all here amazingness “adopted” Joel and has sponsored his medical education in DR. He is currently in his third year and fits right into our group. Anyway this energetic young man has trained his friends to speak english with intensive training for 6 months. These guys are also really good hearted guys. Most of our day was spent orienting and getting organized, mainly in our imported pharmacy. There were about 15 patients seen and treated. Most of the complaints were abdominal pain, one cyst incised and drained, 10 PAP smears done. We gave out tons of condoms and interestingly no one was embarrassed to ask for them and seemed to understand their importance. The 2 fourth year students taught the nursing students that are training at the hospital, then we offered to treat the nursing students several of whom jumped at the opportunity. My role is mainly to precept the students. Most of them are 3rd year thus really new to medicine and getting used to talking to and touching patients. The added layer of the language barrier, the cultural barrier and lack of testing equipment is a real challenge for them but what a great way to get exposure to it all. I forgot how much I used to not know and how hard it was in the beginning. Dosing tylenol was one of the questions. Cute. I really need to be patient and let them do the talking and examining, conclusion making. Its hard to hold back but will get used to this new pace. I do enjoy teaching and its nice in this situation since there really is no pressure to see lots and patients and quickly. The focus is providing good care under the circumstances and the experience for us.
I talked a bit to one of the young translators. He said his life did change after the earthquake. He mainly only elaborated that his faith in Christ really escalated and he is alive so that must mean something. He asked me what I thought of his country. He feels what they need are training in what they need to do and security is a big issue. The security issue came up when they talked to the nursing students as well. The people I have met from Haiti so far are incredibly gently and sweet, smiling, joking. Its lovely here but the streets are so broken. Dusty not paved, construction going on. We intended on going to the local orphanage but the roads were blocked and lack of secured transportation.
The hospital we are working in is Hopital Espair which translates to Hope Hospital...it was originally a children's hospital exclusively but now admits adults at well. From what I could see only outpatient services were going on. There was an ER which was 2 beds in a small room, there was an ICU which was also 2 beds and 2 monitors, they actually had 2 OR s and a recovery room. We met 2 doctors that work there but not sure if its full time, one was in the ER, one pediatrician, they had a gynecologist today but sounds as if most of the sub-specialists come once per week. We also met the medical director there who speeks, Kreol, French and Spanish but no english.
The pace was slow today but fun. Getting to know everyone in our group. A really great goup of students, the “faculty” and a photographer. 13 in all. Hope we have more patients tomorrow and better flow. The thought was that with the road as a barrier it kept the volume down today.
We walked home from the Hospital which is close. Its hot and humid and dusty. The trickle of a cold shower was luxuriously welcomed. The cook here is really good. Fresh pineapple, spaghetti for dinner, and lots of water!