Day six in Haiti: Making some improvement

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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:

As we almost reach our first week here in Haiti, I wanted to share that Port au Prince is slowly making some improvement. Each day seems like the people here are trying their best to move on and go on with living. Despite the devastation and tragedy, we have seen the Haitian people looking for work, selling food on the street, cleaning what’s left of their homes, dressing up for Sunday’s best, attending services and children smiling and playing.

This patient was so thankful her legs were not amputated that she prayed for Nelson Aquino.
This patient was so thankful her legs were not amputated that she prayed for Nelson Aquino.

The city is full of dust, has poor air quality, remains in shambles and is piled with trash. The people are eating, sleeping and living in these conditions. Crowds gather daily to look for work, see the envoy of volunteers and fill roads with traffic. It amazes me that it took a major disaster for us to finally get over here and help this very poor country. I hope we continue to realize that we need to support Haiti and countries like Haiti. I am amazed how the less fortunate are so happy despite having nothing.

One of the patients I anesthetized today woke up screaming in joy that we did not amputate her legs. She proceeded to place her hand on my head and said a prayer for me. The interpreter said it was some really heavy stuff she was saying. For me, I feel so blessed to be able give all I can as  RN, CRNA and human being.

Today in OR we worked extremely hard to complete about 20 plus cases. Dr. Meara and Dr. Rogers cared for many wounds and even had the opportunity to meet Wyclef Jean and his entourage. Jay Hartford, RN, was in charge of the PACU and worked hard with our colleagues at Mt. Sinai to make sure every patient had a home. Lisa Pixley, RN, and Terri MacDonald, RN, continued to follow each tent and make sure the post-ops were cared for. Our physicians from Partners in Health also worked so hard to make sure the tents were staffed day in and at night. In the OR, Stella Harrington, RN, Pam Gorgone, RN, Trish Powers, RN, Liz Sampson, RN, and Johanne Jocelyn, SST, did their magic in the OR.

Today, I stepped out of running the PACU and joined my colleagues, Craig MacClain, MD, and David Waisel, MD, in providing anesthesia care for the surgeries. I teamed up with a fellow nurse anesthetist, Brian Birner, and had a great time doing what I love! Oh, and a Happy Nurse Anesthetist Week to all my friends and colleagues!

In the OR, everyone is working so hard, we often try and take breaks to drink and eat what we can find. It is so tough sometimes because all the Haitian volunteers, workers and families have no food or water, and stare. Some beg and some just starve. Trish, RN, found a drinking station provided by the Spaniards and had the workers fill their bottles with clean water! The 82 Airborne found us boxes of donated food to eat. We were able to give the families the food that needed to be cooked.

Today one of the nurses walked by this building on campus that was demolished. It was the Nursing School and everyone in the building had died in the quake. The doors were not locked until today and the bodies still lie there.

I have received many emails from people asking where and who to donate too. I would have to recommend Partners in Health (PIH). Every bit goes to the Haitian people and even to the people caring for them. I cannot tell you how much PIH makes a difference in their lives. They have been working in Haiti for the last 20 years and are invested in their future.  Check out the book, Mountains beyond Mountains, and look at PIH’s Facebook page and Web site. Thank you in advance for donating!

Nelson J Aquino CRNA