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Dr. Ali's Mission In Haiti: A Volunteer's Diary

2/5/2010

Early in the morning all but three members ofTeam 3 began our journey by road to Santo Domingo.  As Dr. Snodgrass, Dr. Seifferrt, and Alicia were flying back to Santo Domingo at 3, they were able to run the clinic until 1230.  They managed to see 95 patients in that time before leaving for the airport.  The traffic was pretty bad and they made it just in time only to find out that their seats weren't guaranteed and they were actually on standby.  Luckily, Dr. Snodgrass browbeat them into getting the last three seats on the plane.

The team members were all feeling a little better. On the drive we got to see the natural beauty of Haiti and DR.  We left at 730 am and finally arrived around 5 pm.  On the way we saw and drove through a small mob riot.  Just outside of Port au Prince there was a convoy of supplies heading into town that was attacked by 50 to 70 people.  They very quickly jumped onto the trucks and broke away with supplies. When the supplies fell onto the road the people fought each other for water and small bags of food.  Our lead car driven by Ata was also rocked by the crowds but he was able to navigate aggressively through them without hurting anyone.  His maneuvering allowed the two other trucks in our group to follow him with no problem. Just a few seconds thereafter we saw about ten armed Haitian police walking towards the area.  There have been rumors of looters being handcuffed and killed on the spot - at least two bodies were supposedly found this way.  I managed to get video of the incident.

The team is prepared to talk about their Haiti experience for their TV interviews tomorrow. 

2/4/2010

Today we saw a total of 230 patients (180 at the clinic and 50 patients at St. Louis Clinic).  We managed to do this in spite of four team members getting sick with GI problems (luckily it happened in staggered fashion so it wasn't a huge blow at one time).  Two of them received IV fluids and antiemetics and the other two are doing better after oral medicines .

We were able to get some supplies from a youth organization from Seattle, Washington and the potential promise of a UV water filter suitable for 10,000 gallons of water a day.  We gave them the contact information for Dr. Bertrand who heads the campsite at Da Da Dou (5,000 to 7,000 people).  This group is housed on the same street as the Clinic about a quarter mile down the road.

While at the St. Louis clinic in the afternoon we were able to help them with three requests:  $200 for a latrine for their campsite housing 200 people, a large tent to protect their outdoor clinic (currently outside under a large tree), and a glucometer.  We were able to miraculously supply them these within 2 hours of their request.  It happened in amazing fashion.  We got quick approval from Humanity First Canada (the volunteers were very impressed with the quick turnaround time in HF).  While our driver dropped us off he said he'd ask his neighbor who had a large tent he's not using (and he agreed!).  Finally, we were only able to get one box of supplies from WHO, and it included glucometers.  We later met Dr. Maron at the campsite and she was so happy to meet us.  She's a minister within the Haiti government and is in charge of food distribution.  We told her of Humanity First Phase II long term plan and urged further cooperation.  She said HF was welcome any time in jet clinic.

We later went to a cluster meeting at the UN where I met Mr. Fareed from the WHO and discussed our supply problem.  He stated that there's a bulletin that's emailed out at 2 AM every morning that lists supply, needs, etc. and he was surprised that our organization didn't have Internet access.   While at the meeting I met Dr. Zeiger from google (hired by them to troubleshoot and improve information sharing).  He's from the San Francisco area and is also returning back in a couple of days.  I'm hopeful that we can figure out a way to do this better.

Tomorrow morning the majority of the team will be driving back to Santo Domingo and Dr.'s Seiffertt, Snodgrass, and Alicia will fly tomorrow at 3:00.  We will have enough staff to run the clinic in the morning.

I've told all my team members about the press coverage when we return.  Our team has thoroughly enjoyed the stay at the Clinic and we may be back in a couple of months.

Please send pediatricians as there are increasing numbers of sick children now.  There will be a different set of problems when the rainy season starts soon and I highly recommend that you prepare and think through mudslides, etc. that will occur shortly.

2/3/2010

We saw 135 patients at the mission clinic and just over 200 patients at the Da Da Dou campsite, for a total of 335 patients.  We networked with several groups today, one which was the local St. Louis Catholic Clinic in our neighborhood.  The gentleman from that clinic brought us some antibiotics that we were running low on and said that if there are any troublesome patients, that we should send them to his clinic.  We asked if there was anything we could get for him and he said they needed a few tables and a field tent.  Their place is run by 4 local Haitian doctors in our neighborhood. We donated a significant amount of surgical supplies to Miami medical center and to the Salvation Army hospital.

Nurrudin’s team visited 4 orphanages in outlying PAP and donated over 500 diapers and 600kgs of rice.  The number of children ranged from 25 to 40. There has been great difficulty in getting appropriate supplies and for this reason another NGO team (referred to by Dr. Suraleigh) visited with us in the evening.  They need physicians to help with their campsites (about 20, just outside PAP, to support 65,000 people). 

Unfortunately because of overbooking, we will not be going to remote clinics via Air Samaritan tomorrow.  It's probably better as there's some rain headed tomorrow night and we were not excited about being stranded there so soon before our departure.  Tomorrow, we will man the clinic here in the morning and then visit and help the St. Louis Church clinic.

The team chemistry is great and they're already planning a return trip in the next few months.  There is a tremendous need for medical care and nonmedical care in Haiti, but it will require larger teams willing to work more out of the typical comfort zone.

2/2/2010

Today we were all present for the morning session at the mission clinic and we saw a total of 175 patients for the day.  The majority of the team went to Da Da Dou in the afternoon and saw about 250 patients.  As we were running out of supplies and it was getting dark, the afternoon clinic closed at 5:30 pm.  They saw a lot of young patients with diarrhea and dehydration.  There were many adults with hypertension and diabetes as well.  We went to the WHO to get supplies and were told they'd be ready by 3:00 tomorrow.  We have enough medicines for one full day of clinic.  So in total we saw about 425 patients today and probably could have seen more with additional supplies and physicians.  At the end of each day we are exhausted, yet very satisfied that we made a little difference.

The lines at the Da Da Dou clinic were long and the patients became impatient at times but Dr. Bertrand was able to calm them down.  There was one belligerent young man who came into the mission clinic drunk.  He was upset that God did not take him in the earthquake.  He lost his mother, wife, and young son in the quake.  Stanley, a Haitian gentleman from New York, was able to calm him down.  After the quake Stanley bought a ticket to help his countrymen in any way he could - he's a phlebotomist by trade and a kind man.  One local 5th year medical student, Jimmy S., asked if he could see patients with us.  I agreed and he checked out patients and presented them to me.  He was nervous with the responsibility but I assured him that I'll help him however I can.  He saw about 15 patients with me and when we closed down the clinic I invited him to come again. 

Kyle Rhone and one other volunteer took  surgical equipments (bovie electrocautery, 1,000 masks, gloves, sterile gowns) to the Miami medical team.  They needed it so badly that when it was dropped off they asked us to take it immediately to the operating room on an active case.  About 60 bags of dressings, surgical equipment arrived from the UK.  We will likely give most of it away and use some ourselves.  We need bp meds more than anything.

Nurrudin visited two orphanages and delivered diapers and baby powder.  The children loved the attention and were very pleased with the gifts.  He is working to get them registered with WFP so they can get basic supplies and food.  The children ranged in age from 9 months to 5 years and numbered about 15.  The lady there has been taking care of them herself since the earthquake.  They live in tents outside of the badly damaged buildings and they're covered in feces as they have no diapers.  The lady usually has to cross the road and enter the damaged building, climb stairs with the older children each time they need to use the restroom.  Imagine what her nights must be like with that many children!  Nurrudin played with the children and gave this lady a little rest.

Clayton flew into Jaqmuel with a pilot from Air Samaritan.  It serves as a 'hub' for local villages numbering about 65,000 people, most of whom have had little care.  Clayton took antibiotics and surgical supplies to this area and they were very appreciative.  We plan to fly a team of doctors and nurses this Thursday into one of these remote villages and provide care.  We likely will not see the numbers like we are seeing in our clinic or in Da Da Dou but these will be people who have received little or no care.  We are excited about providing care here - the details we work through tomorrow will be favorable.

The people of Haiti are very resilient, wonderful people.  Most of my team members are already talking about coming back.

2/1/2010

The UK team left in the morning.  They first went to an outlying clinic and then drove on to Santo Domingo.  The two doctors (myself and Dr. Snodgrass) saw 165 patients at the mission house clinic by noon!  We saw about 205 patients for the day including a three day old baby who died.  He was born prematurely at home 3 days ago and today stopped breathing.  The team (including the ladies) were here and helped console her.  We drove her home to her family's home with her child.  It was a tragic moment which will tie our team together forever.  Before the team went to bed, a father brought his 20 something old son un a wheelbarrow after a wall collapsed on him.  We thought he might have a pelvic fracture and took him in a caravan to the local general hospital where they assumed his care.

Ata and Dr Seifferrt and Alicia Roberson drove across to PAP as they needed to bring our supplies and help in PAP.  In Jimani, 40 doctors and nurses arrived today and as they had a lot of help came here.  As such and with appropriate approval they joined our team in PAP.

We visited a camp about 15 minute drive away called Da Da Dou that consists of between 5,000 and 7,000 people living in tents.  One doctor Genuie Bertrand tends to all their needs (water, food, and shelter).  She lost her 14 year old adopted child and husband in the earthquake but she perseveres!  She's an amazing lady and we hope to help her tomorrow afternoon.

Tomorrow morning we will see patients here at the mission clinic and after one pm I'll send all the medical team save me and Michael Simpson to Da Da Dou.  I'm hoping we will be more helpful this way.

Clayton Bell (medical student) procured many medical supplies for our own clinic and also for a remote village called Jaqmuel.  He found a pilot to take him there to this area where amputations are done only with Motrin!  Unfortunately, the weather wasn't good and he didn't take off.  Luckily he made fast friends with another organization that drops off medical teams in the morning and picks them back up in the afternoon.  Many of these villages have not yet seen a physician since the quake.  We will await more information before we move on this opportunity.

I think the local clinics will be more like primary care clinics with occasional trauma and the outlying villages will be more acute care. As Internet and telephone are variable I'll give ya'll a report as best I can.

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