It has been 12 days since the earthquake struck Haiti. We arrived at the hospital on Friday afternoon, the 20th. There were patients lying everywhere – outside, under awnings/trees (anywhere to get shade), in waiting areas – literally anywhere they could find a spot. We went right to work preparing for an early start on Saturday. Since then our team and the hospital staff have made huge progress. This morning is calmer; there were fewer people sleeping on the grounds last night. There are a few tremors happening from time to time and a lot of the Haitians are scared to sleep inside. Can’t say as I blame them.
We are so thankful that God spared the hospital from damage, allowing us to remain fully functional. Up until Sunday, when Samaritan’s Purse’s mobile hospital became functional, we were the only hospital fully operating in the area. We had a meeting with Samaritan’s Purse on Sunday and are working together to best treat some of the most difficult cases.
It is hard watching patients wait for treatment as we prioritize and do the worst cases first. There is one man who for days has been on a hospital gurney in the middle of the clinic waiting area. I think his family moved him there so he could get some air, or maybe so we would have to see him every time we walk through. His right leg is broken and he has a cardboard splint stabilizing his leg. It is even harder to see the kids; we’ve cast their broken legs and arms and sent most of them home. It’s the ones who have lost arms and legs, they are the hardest. A three-year-old, who had to have her arm removed yesterday is maybe the worst. In a country like Haiti, losing an arm or a leg will make your life very difficult, as if it’s not difficult here already.
The team from Springfield, Missouri, continue to work very hard, trying to get through as many difficult cases as they can with the time they have here. What a blessing to have them here. Dr. Dylan Nugent did his post residency program in Kenya, Gail Dooling spent 14 years in Papua New Guinea, Sean Apple has spent time in Pakistan, and Dr. Jose was a doctor in the army. Having Dylan, Gail, Sean, and Jose who are used to dealing with trauma in less than ideal conditions have helped get through these difficult cases. Sometimes special experiences are priceless. Today we had an emergency C-section come in the middle of concentrating on orthopedic cases; the baby was just stuck, time was running out, and Gail new exactly what to do and pushed in the right area, releasing the baby.
A big shout out to our staff of doctors and nurses who have put in countless hours treating those in need. I’m aware of 6 staff members who continue to put long days in here when their homes have been destroyed. John Eddy’s family comes every night and sleep on benches in the community health area. How to help these staff members will be a challenging question to answer in the near future.
We have a couple more days of work before we head home. We were notified yesterday that our flight out was cancelled. No explanation – just cancelled. We tried to reschedule for Friday but all flights were full. We really don’t want to leave early and leave cases undone. We are working on options but it is out of our hands. Please pray for a good solution.
Thank you to all for your donations sent since the earthquake hit. Keeping the hospital operating through this time without billing for services is expensive, and it is a blessing to see how God is already providing. We appreciate your prayers and support.