A nurse reports from Haiti: Huge demand for surgery, thankful patients

Tents erected for post-operation care
Tents erected for post-operation care

Nelson Aquino, a nurse anesthetist from Children’s, arrived in Haiti yesterday with a group of Children’s clinicians. We just received this email update and photo from his first day and night on the ground:

This evening, we headed back to the university hospital. We had three operating rooms going. Earlier today, two other groups joined our team to make the hospital run night cases for the first time since the quake. We had surgeons, doctors and nurses from MI and CA helping us. Most of the morning was spent organizing the night ORs . We had several aftershocks too and people were scrambling.

Driving through the city is surreal. Camps of people, lines of people, military everywhere, homeless people. I saw the palace ruined. It was eerie at night too with no electricity and seeing buildings ruined and the smell of corpses.

Tonight, I basically did pain management and sedation for the post ops. We used morphine and started many patients on PO narcs. For the many wound changes I used ketamine and my portable finger pulse ox! The ICU nurses and intensivists were great and we all utilized each specialty. Everyone loved that I had the narcotics and could do sedation!

The patients were so thankful, you could see in their eyes, the grief, pain and acceptance of what has happened. The kids and adults all were inspiring.

Challenges for me were dealing with a 8 month pregnant woman w/ tib fib fractures pain management. Also trying to get IVs in trauma renal failure dialysis patient post op… But we all did it! Dave Waisel was awesome and both him and Craig McClain did amazing work today with the ORs.

At the end of the night, a three-hour old baby came with rectal bleeding and we all worked together…A PA donated his own blood so the neonate could survive the night. Amazing what people do in these conditions and circumstances! John Meara and Craig McClain stayed overnight to watch the baby.

Now back at compound.. More volunteers arriving. The surge of help is now coming.. A week later but not too late.. So many people need surgery, wound care and have nowhere to go. It’s going to take months for the injured to be cared for.

I know I’m missing more but I am beat. Thank everyone for thoughts and support!

Nelson Aquino