Friday, February 5, 2010

Help for Haiti - 2

Continuing on from the previous post, I'm sharing emails from my friend Charlene. She is a married woman --with grown children, church responsibilities, and a day job as an executive assistant -- who dropped everything and went to Haiti the other week to help out.

I told her she is my new hero. 

Here's what Charlene had to say after her second day there:

Ok so you know how for many people they are known to have a mid-life crisis and change the course of their life? Well hold on to your seats my friends.... I am now an ER nurse. Yep. that's right... NOT! Well, I am here at least but I am certainly not ready to quit my day job (not to worry!)

Today we worked in the private hospital. Basically they are doing most of the surgeries in the general hospital and then shipping the patients to the private hospital for follow up and recoup. Pretty much all day today I served as Dr Prinz' ER nurse. We basically removed bandaging on all wounds, cleaned them out and rebandaged them again. This was like walking into war zone. I can't even image the magnitude of the what the physicians deal with when they have to work with our brave men and women who come home from Iraq injured. I have gained new-found and profound respect for them.

We bandaged all open wounds and amputations (and there are so many amputations). It is just very very sad. Tomorrow we hope to get back to this same hospital at some point to be able to follow up on their care. One woman at the end of the day was brought directly to this hospital and her wound was definitely the worse seen. She was triaged after we cleaned and bandaged her and she will be having surgery to amputate her lower leg tomorrow.

The amazing thing is that these poor suffering people are all in their beds, most with their family members with them as well and there is such a calm in the room. I mean if these people were in the USA there would be screaming and wailing by the patients and the family members but this is not the case from what we are seeing.

Of course, I realize that so many of them are still in such a state of shock from the horrendous things they have experienced in this past week. One woman today said that she had been crushed beneath rubble of a building for 22 hours in Port Au Prince but she was alive and all things considered, not terribly off.

The Haitians are "tough people" with amazing resiliency and calm. There are so many amputations here, and there just seems to be an total acceptance that this is what it is and they will now move on. Amazing! They don't even take pain medication. We do use topical anaesthetics to clean many of the wounds and Dr. Parks does use lidocane when he is sutchering but the most they take is Ibuprophen. No pharmaceutial hoarding taking place here. It reall is crazy though and highlights how much we Americans do abuse medication.
At the end of the day we then went to the tent hospital to care for those who have not yet made it into the hospital building. There are big UNICEF tents erected outside the hospital as an overflow area - with many laying on tarps just begging for some medical attention.

Tomorrow morning we plan to go to the boys orphanage which is local here in Les Cayes. This is really the normal work of IHAF (International Humanitarian Aid Foundation) here in Haiti and the place where Bob came three years ago with a team and erected a wind turbine to produce some electricity for the orphanage that had none. So we are gong on an expedition of sorts and then heading back to the hospital.

We have just been told that there is one orthopedic surgeon here with Doctors without Borders and they are going to send him over to the hospital in the morning. He will surely have his work cut out for him. There are at least 15 tib/fib beaks, a few ankles and at least one hand and one leg amputation needed.

Much of this evening we were back at our hotel and sorting and organizing through literally tons of donated medical goods to determine what we need to continue with our work with patient care and what will be sent to the UN for distribution throughout the area to all in need. We have not seen alot of other groups or teams here working. We have just seen ourselves and Doctors without Borders in the area that we are in. I suspect that most everyone is in Port Au Prince where the earthquake hit but there are still so many other people making their way out of PAP back to their relatives' homes to seek medical care because there is just no way that everyone can be seen and taken care of in PAP.

Prayer requests: These people are still in dire need of orthopedic surgeons. This is a wonderful organization that we are here with and I can guarantee you that they will get anyone plugged in to help and lend aid where it is needed. All donations, whether in kind or financial, are all being 100% used for these people and not going to administrative costs at all. We personally will want to try to help raise some funds for them upon our return as it cost them $10-$14,000 to fly us into this country and to pay for the 1,000 pounds of supplies that were brought down with us.

We covet your continued prayers for strength, and stamina. It is quite hot, but when you are focusing on the people and busy tending to their care it quickly becomes forgotten. We need a good night sleep tonight. Last night we did not sleep well. We only had a bottom sheet on our
bed, no pillows and no towels for drying off after showers... speaking of which, I need to go take a shower now so I will stop this email and free you all from the reading of this epistle.

Much lay ahead of us tomorrow but I am so thankful that God has given me an overwhelming calm and fortitude to assist Dr. Prinz with these wounds - which is clearly outside of my realm of expertise. But God is good and is worthy of our praise even in the midst of such enormous tragedy.

Au Revoir,


See why she is my new hero? Can you (non-nurse) people imagine flying into another country and suddenly acting as an ER nurse? I'll post Charlene's last few emails soon - she does one thing later that amazes me (and makes me squirm).

Meanwhile, you want to do something to help the people in Haiti? Today you can simply speak up - check out this opportunity from the She Seeks division of Proverbs 31 Ministries and Compassion Intl.

Thankful for the many groups of caring people helping like Compassion Intl.

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