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.
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 we all made huge progress with our new OR. Our Children’s team
now has teamed up with the Brigham and Women’s and NYU teams to do surgery. Early this morning, our first group headed out to set up the OR and seek out our potential patients.
At the general hospital, we opened a preop area, 4 OR tables and a PACU. Our team leaders worked hard today with the IMC (International Medical Corporation) to make this happen.
While searching for extra beds, and the right Red Cross tent, Jay Hartford, a 7 South nurse, and I stumbled upon some chaos. A 2 day old baby had been seizing on and off since birth. A team of paramedics were screaming for intubation, but only had large endotrachial tubes (ETT). So being a pediatric CRNA, I naturally swarmed over and told the team that. Immediately they moved everyone aside and said, “Let him intubate.” As the paramedic removed the ambu bag off the neonate, I used a large blade and intubated this 3 kg baby. As they listened for breath sounds and confirmed placement, everyone was clapping. The U.S. military arrived and helped us transport this neonate in a hummer. With no monitors, no meds and an unstable IV, the military guys shut the doors and it was pitch black and 100 degrees. …
After several days of trying to make their way to the site of the devastation in Haiti and get their field hospital set up, the Children’s team is working hard in Port-au-Prince to care for the earthquake victims.
We’ll have more updates on the work of the Children’s team as soon as we have them.
Lester Hartman, MD, is a Children’s-affiliated pediatrician who works at Westwood-Mansfield Pediatric Associates. For several years he has run a clinic in the mountains of Haiti through a program called the Haitian Organization Program For Education And Health. Hartman made his way to the region within days of this week’s earthquake. Below are three updates from Hartman as he has tries to make his way to the clinic and begins to grasp the level of devastation caused by the earthquake.
Friday, January 15, 5:53 pm – We are heading to the DR [Dominican Republic] Haiti border in a little bit and drive thru the night as is 6 hrs and then we will cross in am in a faltbed truck with $8000 US meds plus PLUMPY NUT- hi calorie peanut butter paste for malnourished kids. This may be my last contact until crossing the border back. Lots of Haitians trying to cross the border.
Friday, January 15, 2010 6:01 pm – We are in the mountains our clinic is intact. We will arrive at the clinic tomorrow with additional meds to help with the evacuees coming up the mountain. We are 5 miles west of Lascohabos in the Central Plateau region. This is Katrina X100. We expect to see more malnutrition.
Saturday, January 16 9:34 am – Got stuck in DR but found generous pharmacist who is getting us meds/ we got $6000 US food [and] about $6000 meds. It’s a drop in the bucket but at least it is a drop. This is going to be Katrina x 1000 and my childhood home was flooded in Katrina. Our director is planning to bring victims up from PAP [Port au Prince]. Who knows, we might have a tent city. Heading out to Haiti in about 1-2 hrs. Not sure what our access will be.
We’ll update you on Hartman’s progress and that of the Children’s team that has been trying to get to Haiti since earlier this week as soon as we have more information.