Dean’s Report from Haiti
Our doctors, nurses and staff are doing God’s work in Haiti and at home! One week after the devastating earthquake that wrecked the capital city of Port-Au-Prince, our team has established an invaluable urgent care center where hundreds of patients have found refuge, help and life-saving care.
Lying on stretchers, the patients are getting round-the-clock, top-notch trauma care that stabilizes their fractures, provides wound care for skin injuries, burn care, eye care, care for lung injuries and acute kidney failure, etc. Because all urgent care hospitals are full, we are partnering with other nations to exchange patients according to the specific technical prowess of each center. A 13-year-old girl whose flailed chest was wounded by a falling rock needed plastic surgery to cover her rib cage. Her skin, bones and chest muscles had been destroyed by the trauma over a patch the size of the palm of her hand, and her lung movement could be seen through the window of her chest. We took her to the “Corps Medical des Forces de Defense d’Israel” (the Israeli medical camp), where such specialized surgery was available, and traded her for a young man with an arm fracture and a severe back wound, whom we took back in a makeshift ambulance to our camp.
The Haitians are stoic. From the woman who climbs a mountain with four gallons of fresh water on her head for her family and neighbors, to the patients and their families who wait patiently for care, watching the expressions on the faces of their doctors and nurses, they give us a lesson in courage that will be remembered forever! Instructively, right after the earthquake they went back to their regular habits. For food and drink, they go to the local market. For care, they go to their regular hospital. Hence, if the United Nations is to be successful in bringing loads of food and water, they need to be distributed at sites where people go for such needs. The same applies for hospitals: those hospitals that have been wrecked need to be reconstituted with urgent care centers where the old hospital used to be.
Ron Bogue, his son Chris, and the UM facilities team are building us the most impressive temporary hospital camp, with four air-conditioned white tents that were donated by Alonzo Mourning and Stuart Miller, to provide our patients and care providers with an improved environment and technology. New operating rooms for life-saving surgeries, hospital wards and advanced technologies are being installed. The facility opens tomorrow (Wednesday) to our patients, only one week after the catastrophe hit Port-au-Prince.
We need to get help to transfer the patients to the new camp, which is located within the UN-protected compound for the security of our team and patients. The UN forces and the U.S. Army need to help us get the clearances and vehicles to bring the patients to their new hospital. We need X-ray equipment and PACS to assess fractures and head traumas. We need improved communication with local phones rather than satellite phones that do not work. We need a kitchen that can bake fresh bread and prepare sandwiches for the staff, patients and families. We need a giant coffee pot that keeps good coffee for our doctors and nurses. We need refrigerators and freezers to store perishable food, sodas and water, and medications. We need inflatable beds and showers for all. We have received so much help, but there is so much more to do…
One week after the earthquake, we stand strong to help the people of Haiti. Few groups have been able to deploy an effective system, and we were the first to be able to do so because Barth Green and his Global Institute team at UM have such a deep knowledge of the region and its people. And the extraordinary support of the local and U.S. benefactors has been nothing short of miraculous.
My deepest thanks to all of you for your incredibly hard work and your unwavering dedication to our patients and community, whether in Haiti or right here in Miami.