Day eight: Pondering Haiti's future

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After returning from Haiti, Children’s Pediatrician-in-Chief, Gary Fleisher, trauma surgeon David Mooney and pharmacist Shannon Manzi are interviewed by WBZTV about the human suffering they witnessed during their medical mission.

Nelson Aquino, a nurse anesthetist from Children’s, is still 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:

A week later, many volunteers are starting to go home. I wonder who will come to replace them. Will it be surgeons, doctors, or nurses or all who will roll up there sleeves to take care of the sick.  We need many people to rehab the amputees, people to remove hardware, people to provide nursing care and antibiotics, and people to provide long term needs. It will take a long time for this country to be back to where it was prior to the earthquake. But it must be better than that, we must provide homes, a clean water supply and some revenue for this country.

What concerns me is that people may forget the devastation this country has experienced and yet I know I will never forget the images burned in my memory. There are no words to describe the devastation here from people who are sleeping in the rubble of their homes to protect their property and bury their dead.

The infrastructure of the country has almost been annihilated. I am unsure how the hospital will function after other groups start to return home. The ultimate goal is get the Haitian people to function independently with a higher standard of care. This end will require an unconditional commitment from the international community.

Despite what you may hear, there is a dire need of volunteers with expertise and versatility. And these volunteers need to teach and empower the Haitian people who remain proud and dignified.

ankleblockToday, we cared for about 30 patients in the OR. One of patients cared for by Dr. Meara was the Bishop’s wife. Three of our sickest patients have been transferred to the USS Comfort today. The USS Comfort ship is off the coast of Haiti.  This 1,000 bed ship is staffed collaboratively by the US Navy and Project HOPE.

Besides doing anesthesia in the OR, my colleagues and I have been useful in providing anesthesia in the tents for the many extensive dressing changes done a day. I even was able to perform an ankle block for one of the patients in the PACU for a metacarpal removal.

One of the nurses met the 2 year old who was pulled from the rubble after 7 days. He is doing well and is heading to US to live with his aunt.

In midst of tragedy, the earthquake will hopefully at least be a catalyst for progress. Let us hope and be part of the change……

Special thank you to Liz, Lisa and Jay for their help with this entry. Special hello to Owen, Luke, Will and Wyatt Hartford from Uncle Nelson.