Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Our First Day--Donna

Bonswa Everyone!
It is 7:00 pm here in Haiti and we just finished dinner and are relaxing after an exciting first day of work.
The Bethel Guest house is as beautiful as I remember with lovely cool breezes blowing through the windows. We were actually cold under our blankets last night with the ceiling fan on! It is a busy place as a group of 50 from a Nashville church mission team are here. They are the first team and will send teams through the summer. The guest house has ramped up services to serve everyone which is wonderful. They have a delicious buffet for breakfast and dinner and we all eat out on a covered patio. Dr. Bernard’s 33 babies/toddlers from his orphanage are housed in the second building and many of the teenagers are playing with and caring for them this week. There is a fridge in the first floor kitchen you are free to use, lots of drinking water available and filling all your empty bottles each am is fine. The showers are nice and hot but remember to bring your own soap.
We had trouble finding our driver at the airport as all the terminals are moved around. (You will now turn to the right to find the cart rental). We are having a large sign made that will say Bethel Guest House for the driver to hold up. When you exit the terminal walk to the edge of the red iron gates and look for the sign. Stay within the gates just to keep it simple. It is not dangerous, but you get too many offers of help if you go out.
The driver will most likely be Arnold . He speaks passable English and is very sweet.
My team had been researching alternative hospital options the week before we arrived. The most promising was the Haitian Community Hospital (HCH) in Petionville. Amazingly, we passed by it on our drive from the airport to the guest house so had the driver stop. We met with the acting medical director (the first was on vacation) and he agreed to allow us to come today and see how things went. It was an interesting meeting in that he kept asking us what group we were with. I had been asked that before by Heart to Heart and others and decided on the spur of the moment that to have some legitimacy we needed a name so we sounded official. Sooooooooo we are now the Midwest Therapy Group or MTG for short! Everyone we met with seemed to like writing that down and then listing our services and teams. We connected up with a group called LEAP that provides volunteers in the hospital for now. Linnea is the leader and was referred to me by the Heart to Heart International director who has an office nearby. The administration is in the process of transitioning from chaos with volunteers back to their old hospital services with paid staff. Linnea has helped to convince them that PT/OT services are needed and since there is no one here to hire, our teams would be good. They found us a corner to work in for today and gave us each a volunteer Haitian translator to help. They are all young men and we so helpful and friendly. We found a few volunteer nurses and doctors who spoke English and told them we were available to take pt’s and they were so thrilled. The hospital has maybe 30 in-pts and then they line up outdoors starting at sunrise and the out-patients funnel in. We saw a 15 year old with a R BKA, fx L shoulder and fx R ankle who had only a week of PT after surgery and had been in bed since. I saw a woman who was a L BKA and had just been fitted with a prosthesis but due to the fact she was pregnant and had no shrinker sock her stump was now too swollen. When I asked her when her baby was due she answered “He is pushing now!” We gave her some compresso-grip and told her we would try tomorrow after the baby was born. (I can’t wait to hold the new little one.) We saw many people who had ankle fx’s but no follow up, so now the ankles were contracted. The smiles on their faces were so wonderful when after some gentle mobilization, teaching ROM/stretch and how to use theraband they saw some movement start in the ankle. They were all afraid they would be like this forever and we so happy to know how to improve things.
We also just walked around and sent our translators around in the morning to just look for people with obvious need. If we just said “Physio Therapy?” and they would follow us. By afternoon they were just sending us people with their X-rays, we’d read them, dx the fx or confirm a healed one, clear our treatment idea with the ortho doc ( CAM boot, ace-wrap) or cast removal, and then run with it. It was fun! They have an entire store room of supplies from around the world and we found just about everything we needed. There is a pharmacy to get them pain meds and we distributed Ibuprofen ourselves to the out-pts and sent them home in rubber gloves as we had no ziplock bags today!
We will meet with the medical director in the am and she is to decide if they will begin an official rehab clinic with us to run it for now. We have offered to train some of the translators to do rehab as they learned so quickly and really acted as assistants today. Everyone we met from lunchtime on said, “You are the PT’s, we need you so badly.” So I am hopeful. The best comment came from a volunteer American construction group who began repair work today. One of our team talked with one man at the end of the day and he said “Oh, you are a therapist? Everyone is talking about you today!”
The hospital is safe with much security around, everyone we met was very friendly and helpful and really worked together with us, it is warm but not uncomfortable, they provide free lunch of rice and beans which was delicious and there are lots of supplies. We could not have asked for something better. I just pray they will allow us to continue to help them.
The most exciting thing today was connecting with a man who is a pilot and Haitian. He and his son came to volunteer and translate at the hospital. He found a 17 year old girl who had been there for a month and has a genetic dx that they do not know how to treat. The nurses told him she will die soon. He found out she has a mother and sister in Miami and arranged to have her sister and boyfriend have her dc’d from the hospital. He asked for our help to transport her the back of his Subaru SUV and he planned to drive her to the ER at the airport hospital and felt that hospital would most likely airlift her to Miami as she has family there. She is so weak and her heartrate skyrocketed when we just tried to sit her up. A w/c ride was out of the question so we found a backboard in the storeroom, hand carried the IV and did a 4 man lift out the doors, over broken rebar and holes in the concrete down a ramp and into cargo space in the SUV. Her sister and boyfriend had tears in their eyes they were so thankful and kept blessing us. It was quite an end to our first day.
I’ll keep you posted. Pray for us in the morning!

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