Posted by: yourhealthradio | November 16, 2010

Haiti: Health, healing, cholera and habitation

Up at 4:00 am, and arrived in Haiti direct flight from Miami.  Transitiono as stark as the landscape. Flying in over massive tent cities. “Tents” of course misnomer, as most are collections of plastic, wood, metal and twine. Homes and health are always linked.

Traveling on behalf of Jewish Healthcare International, we (2 family physicians, an opthamologist, a surgeon and an ob-gyn) on ground with Haiti Project Medishare, site visit to assess health needs and see what unique long-term assets we can provide.

Airport chaotic but organized in its madness. Our host found us quickly and off to Bernard Mavs hospital in Port-au-Prince. A series of small buildings converted to hospital, ICU, PICU, OR, each with 3-6 beds, hot, busy, IVF’s flowing.  Scared and sick families. Facilities for cholera set-up and operating. Four cholera patients, two died because they were brought there too late. Hundreds waiting to be seen. Multiple needs- no Ct, no vent, not enough special needs wheelchairs  An amazing telemedicine facility donated but seeming empty.  Great assets- dedicated and heroic personnel and volunteers. Three successful surgeries last night alone.

Two hours to get out of city, rubble everywhere but improving, few homes intact. As we get out of Port-au-Prince, roads get worse but the one story stone huts and homes are intact.  People everwhere. Images searing like the heat. Schoolchildren everywhere at high noon in their uniforms.

We stop in the lower plateau, at a Cholera Treatment Center, in Mirebalais. Set up by Partners in Health and Project Medishare only one week ago, it is a lesson in collaboration, science and compassion. Today, 25-30 cases of cholera being treated. Multiple small tents. Each with a purpose.  All staffed by locals. A great and life-saving public health model. Oral rehydration tents. IVF tents. Disinfectant tents.

How did this success story come about in a one week? Dedicated Hatian NGO and Ministry leaders pn the ground, support by Spain Doctors Without Borders for Cholera protocols, Ireland for disinfectant gear, Cuba for special Cholera cots with holes for stool, Israel for water purification.

You will read about riots today as resentment grows about a possible link to Nepalese soldiers in U.N. linked to Cholera source. You won’t hear much about the true heroism on the ground.

Tomorrow, I will blog about care in rural Haiti. Wednesday about some of our ideas.

Adam Goldstein, MD, MPH

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