Our school bus stopped outside the gate, and we jumped out, once again forming a cargo line moving our supplies and bags from the bus to just inside. The drive from Port au Prince airport was bumpy, dusty, with fires burning along the road rubble of the city and dotting the hillsides on our way up into the Mission of Hope village. Even at this late hour, people lined the roads in many areas, and impromtu tent cities appeared and disappeared as we drove by. The devastation was apparent at every turn, its hard to imagine what it was like in the first days and weeks after the initial earthquake
The bus was a far cry and dose of reality from the private 9-seater executive jet that took us from Ft. Lauderdate to the PAP airport. We arrived at the MOH around 11:00, greeted by the mission caretaker Randy, who updated us that we had 16 patients in the “post op” ward of the hospital/clinic, one not expected to make it through the night. Dr. Goldberg informed us, when he met us earlier at the PAP airport, that he had placed 3 patients on NPO status for surgery tomorrow, we will meet them in the morning and make plans for their care.
We are prepared to be flexible, to make a new assessment of the patients here, and the capabilities of our team and the facilities, bright and early in the AM. We are told there is a huge worship celebration in our pavilion at 9:30, we hope to worship together and with the MOH staff as we start the day.
Randy tells us there are still patients in local villages waiting to recieve medical care, and many more who received medical care in the first weeks after the earthquake, who now need follow up care, dressing changes, cast changes, wound care, revision surgeries, medical care. There are 60 children in the orphanage here on the grounds as well. Some of us have brought artwork and pictures from our kids’ elementary schools, we will share those things with those children tomorrow, God willing.
Our team, lead orthopedic surgeon Laura Torres, ER docs Adrian and Oscar Martinez, FP doc Bill Stavinoha and his 2nd year medical student son Tyler, husband and wife surgical tech team Mitch and Viviannne Pearson, PT wound care specialist Christina Schneider, and myself, anesthesiologist and pain mgmt, are spread out across a small “courtyard” just inside the gate in small tents, and inside the guesthouse. The accomodations are rustic, but clean and secure, with running water in two bathrooms, and electricity supplied by generators. There is a team of 4 RN’s from Canada here, taking the overnight shift in the post op/clinic ward, and a team of additional RN’s and a neurosurgeon is expected tomorrow from Miami.
As I type this, I hear trucks in the background, transporting the hundreds of crates of food, from which the MOH will provide 200,000 meals tomorrow. The medical mission here is only a small part of what this place does, providing hundreds of thousands of fresh meals daily to the people of Haiti, day after day after day, is a primary focus.
We praise God for this day and this moment, and for the chance to serve these people, in His name.
Robert Wills, MD