Day seven from Haiti: one week down, lots of progress made

Children's trauma surgeon David Mooney, MD, is featured in today's Boston Globe article on infections in Haiti. Photo courtesy Boston Globe.
Children's trauma surgeon David Mooney, MD, is featured in today's Boston Globe article on infections in Haiti. Photo courtesy Boston Globe.

Editor’s note: All three members of the other Children’s team on the ground in Haiti, Pediatrician-in-Chief, Gary Fleisher, trauma surgeon David Mooney (left) and pharmacist Shannon Manzi, are featured in a Boston Globe article today about how infections are becoming the big problem for the people of Haiti.

Nelson Aquino, a nurse anesthetist from Children’s, is in Haiti with a group of Children’s clinicians. He’s been sending us updates and photos almost daily. Here’s his most recent email:

Today was another hectic day in our makeshift OR. And to make it worse, we did not have any electricity the entire morning. But we continued on safely using our portable monitors, homemade suction and no bovies. You would be amazed how much work we got done without light or electricity. Things are starting to get better each day. As old teams leave and new ones arrive, we continue to get our work done. We all feel like we hit  the wall today. The fatigue is starting to get to us even though we are hydrating and trying to eat  as much as we can.The mission of Partners in Health is to eventually have the Haitians running their own hospital again with our help. Today, we were able to work toward that goal by having the Haitian doctors, surgeons,  anesthesia and nurses work with us in the OR, PACU and outside tents.

Nelson Aquino, CRNA, (center) and Brian Birner, CRNA, (in green) putting a patient to sleep for surgery with Dr. Meara.
Nelson Aquino, CRNA, (center) and Brian Birner, CRNA, (in green) putting a patient to sleep for surgery with Dr. Meara.

Some of the Haitian workers seem really receptive to us while others are still traumatized by the loss of their family members and loss of their homes. I can’t imagine what they are all experiencing, but as I have said before, it amazes me how strong willed the people are going on with life. During this whole experience, we have met some wonderful people. The US 82 Airborne has been helping us throughout our journey. The medics are awesome with crowd control, placing IVs, helping with anything and just being there for all of us. These guys were supposed to be in Afghanistan but got re-routed to Haiti for now. The OR folks allowed these medics to scrub him and help with surgeries. The medics were so enthusiastic and willing to learn!

We have also started to notice the prevalence of HIV within the Haitian community. We cared for several confirmed cases including children.

One of the other things we are noticing is that many of the people are  so afraid of losing their limbs. When the patients return to their tents from the ORs, everyone would sing praises and songs for not having a limb amputated. Tonight we dropped off one lady who returned and the entire tent was singing praises. They all kept thanking us in prayer. But the part that really sucks, is that in morning we have to tell her that she will die if we don’t amputate her leg.

Each day we experience special moments which we will always remember and we are so grateful for all of them. We hope to share more when we all return. As of right now, we are hoping to complete our mission by the end of the weekend.

Thank you to all of you following our blog and for all your messages and thoughts. We all appreciate it!!!!

Nelson J. Aquino CRNA