From April 10 to 18, Children’s Hospital Boston sent a group of 26 clinicians to a field hospital in Haiti. Here, those who staffed the ICU reflect on their experience.
Elizabeth Robertshaw, RN, BSN, CCRN, 7 south MSICU
Where to begin? How do you write on paper a whole country’s suffering? How do you show their faith, courage, and thankfulness through words? It has been so difficult to express all the emotions I have experienced in the past few weeks. Highs and lows. …
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:
In the PACU today, we had a young boy screaming words in Haitian. We asked the interpreter whether he was having pain and where? The interpreter said he wasn’t having pain, but said he was calling out the names of all his dead family members and asking them to help him. My heart just dropped and I looked at him and rubbed his forehead, I didn’t know what else to do.
For every tragedy there is a miracle. Today I learned about a man I had cared for yesterday in a tent. This man was emaciated and rumor was he was found 10 days later in the rubble. I remember seeing him transported in when we arrived. I was giving him sedation for his dressing changes.
Later, I found out the real story. The man was actually found in the morgue. He was thought to be dead and pulse-less and placed with the other deceased. When workers opened the morgue doors 10 days later, they saw this man was moving his hands! He was immediately resuscitated and placed on a fentayl patch for hospice care. Well today he is alive and sitting up and drinking! The Haitians have now named him ” Black Jesus.” He even looks like that too. What an amazing story. …
Nelson Aquino, a nurse anesthetist from Children’s, arrived in Haiti yesterday with a group of Children’s clinicians. We just received this email update and photo from his first day and night on the ground:
This evening, we headed back to the university hospital. We had three operating rooms going. Earlier today, two other groups joined our team to make the hospital run night cases for the first time since the quake. We had surgeons, doctors and nurses from MI and CA helping us. Most of the morning was spent organizing the night ORs . We had several aftershocks too and people were scrambling.
Driving through the city is surreal. Camps of people, lines of people, military everywhere, homeless people. I saw the palace ruined. It was eerie at night too with no electricity and seeing buildings ruined and the smell of corpses. …
Children’s-affiliated pediatrician Lester Hartman, MD, who runs a clinic in Haiti’s Central Plateau, made his way to the country within days of the earthquake to offer much-needed medical care. He returned home at yesterday and emailed us about the widespread destruction–and the accompanying resiliency of the Haitian people–that he witnessed firsthand.
Hartman sponsors three students in Haiti, all of whom were in Port-au-Prince when the earthquake struck. They were lucky to survive the quake, and returned to the capital city with Dr. Hartman to help with relief efforts.
My daughter Sarah and I are back- got home about midnight last night. Sarah was a huge help in all ways, but being close to fluent in Spanish ,while we spent much time trying to cross the border, was a huge help. Also a huge help was the Dominican pharmaceutical distributor who gave of thousands of dollars of meds, the civil defense team from the DR that crossed the border to help, and the director of HOPEH, Marline Olivier, a small woman with an amazing spirit who got the trucks, food and led us down the mountain (I nominated her for CNN Hero-she is sure mine).
My focus is the people, not the destruction- there will be more of the physical devastation than you can imagine you can imagine. Let’s focus on the people. The three students our family sponsor saw death firsthand in Port-au-Prince. When I asked them to return to Port-au-Prince to help, they responded yes with no hesitation.
In the photo, the first person, from left to right, is Richardson, a high school student we sponsor, who dreams of a farm and a house. He calls my wife “Mom”. …