Team 1 Day 2 Update Kyla

Port au Prince, Jan. 20, 2010, 4:30 PM — Day 2 update to Kyla from Thomas, with Hexe, Jeff, Chris, and Daniel piping in throughout.

Overall, they feel pretty good (it was so good to hear tired but laughing voices!). Today was a scouting day, with as much medical aid as they could provide along the way. The ER doctor they've teamed up with is a bit of an adrenaline junky — he wants to see the most people that he can, really wants to be useful. Unfortunately that's not always easy. Many of the organizations they visited today seemed unorganized. At the Central Hospital, for example, they were told they could set up a tarp, but after a little while someone else told them to take it away. "It's a clusterfuck — no one's in charge here, and I mean that in a bad way, not a good anarchy way," Thomas said. Much of Port au Prince seemed well staffed, though, so the team listened for reports of understaffed places and went looking for them.

Places they scouted

Port au Prince Downtown General Hospital

They helped for a few hours — the hospital seems well staffed.

Médecins Sans Frontiéres (Doctors Without Borders)

MSF is seeing 400 people/day and doing basic surgery, but not abdominal surgery. While the team was there the place felt pretty slow.

Field hospital set up in a church, 100s of yards from MSF

Lots of stuff going on but no room for more help.

Leogane (a city west of Port au Prince)

This city was reported as totally leveled but it's not! "Everything that's on news is way overhyped," Thomas said. There's a Canadian hospital there that is only seeing Canadian nationals. There are lots of people around but not a lot of patients.

Possibility to set up clinic where they're staying

The team is staying at World Harvest's New Life Children's Home, an orphanage that houses 150 kids on a 5 acre compound. It's a cute place with a raised bed, rabbits, chickens, all self-sufficient. The team cleaned out a building here, but has concerns the orphanage is far from downtown where services are needed. They are considering getting help to truck patients in, possibly asking the UN to help transport patients.

List of injuries

The team had questions about its role as a trauma care unit. "People who need immediate trauma care needed it a week ago and they’ve either died or found care," Thomas said. They saw:

  • Infection. Lots of it. "Pus comes out of everything."
  • Changed lots of bandages.
  • Splinted broken femur that needs surgery.
  • Dressed an amputated finger that was infecting the whole hand (it was really nasty, and the doctors are planning to amputate whole hand — which they found out after they put her through pain for changing dressing. This was an infection that with the right supplies could have been prevented).
  • Lots of broken bones, femurs, feet (tarsals).
  • 3rd degree burns (nasty — not necessarily earthquake induced).
  • Organizational chaos.

Some needs

They (our team and the country in general) do not have stuff to work with to cure infections. Thomas, a clinical herbalist, wanted his herbs; the situation here is well beyond basic trauma care.

People here need longer term medical care. People will especially need continuing care when all the aid groups pull out in a couple months — this is stuff they needed before the earthquake. Clinics are always needed here, but the quake increased the rate of homelessness and the depth of poverty, and made it all the more dire.

Questions for additional teams

This team had a hard time plugging in as a trauma team because initial trauma has been taken care of. They spent a lot of the day trying to figure out a useful role for themselves. They noted that this is their assessment after just one day in country.

But if this is the general rule, they don't know if there's a purpose to have more trauma teams come to Haiti. (That means you, Team 2).

Thomas said, "We can't have more people [come from the US] until there's a place to stay [see below] and we figure out what to do — as of right now people need hospital care in Port au Prince." He stressed that they can’t define if this is the case outside Port au Prince, and they will look into the refugee situation outside Port au Prince, and reportback. Team 2, Thomas asked you to consider your intentions, and what skills you are bringing. Trauma care may not be a dire need anymore.

Team 1 needs info from other organizations: are they well staffed, what type of people are they seeing? They heard the Central Plateau is overrun with volunteers — is that still the case? They need info from as many sources as possible: types of injuries and staff. Evidently, there's as little information forthcoming within Haiti as outside, as both teams are asking each other the same questions.

Logistics and money

Turns out the place where they’re staying, World Harvest's New Life Children’s Home, charges for two meals a day and room: $25/night/person. Is this reasonable for our team?

Emotional health

I asked how they're doing emotionally, and they said, pretty ok. "We saw some things that were pretty shocking" but overall are holding up. They wanted me to pass on that is is, and I quote, "motherfucking hot." They spent 5 hours in 12-person van w/ 17 people & trauma equipment with no air circulation. Also, Jeff (my partner) got teased and heckled because he wanted to get on the phone to say mushy things to me; everyone says hi to their loved ones.

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