Returning from Haiti-one week later

Last week, Children’s Global Surgical team returned from a trip to Cange, Haiti, where they performed surgeries, wound care, general pediatrics and occupational and physical therapy. Here, John Meara, MD, DMD, MBA, the hospital’s plastic-surgeon-in-chief, reflects on what was accomplished and what is still left to be done.

While we were in Cange, we witnessed a lot of improvement in the patients. Many of the wounds are either closed or much better. Our orthopedic surgeons were able to do a lot of procedures, fracture reductions, removing some old external fixators and generally getting people out of the hospital.

The nurses did a great job at integrating with the Haitian nursing team. This was the first time I’ve had physical and occupational therapists on a surgical trip, and they were invaluable, spending all day helping patients who would just have been in bed for most of the day. They also made all sorts of prosthetic devices and helped us evaluate patients to see whether they’re able to leave the hospital.

Although we were very busy clinically, we laid the ground work for more training of the Haitian staff in the future. The nurses made friends with the nurses here, and our two anesthesiologists  did a great job at connecting with the anesthesia team. This was a good start to creating these valuable collaborations.

I’d like to bring a surgical team back to Cange on a continual basis so we can build on the momentum we’ve begun. Ideally each specialty group–nursing, rehabilitation, physical and occupational therapy, anesthesia, will work with their counterparts to share expertise and knowledge.

Children's Global Surgical team, with Dr. Paul Farmer, director of Partners In Health.