Today was Sunday, which for Haitians means a day of worship. Our clinic was “closed” and we spent the first part of the day organizing supplies and touring the grounds with Dr. Cheryl, who is the full time physician in charge here. We then attended the most amazing worship service, lasting almost 3 hours, packed to standing room only with singing Haitian parishioners, and many local missionaries and their families. The music was loud, joyful and beautiful, and the people were standing and singing, there were kids everywhere, and goats, turkeys and roosters outside the pavilion – very colorful setting. The people are beautiful, and upbeat, not downtrodden or mopey, but full of joy and hope, amazing in their faith. Church here is “dressy” and many of the locals were dressed in their best, dresses and skirts for the women and girls, and pants and collared shirts on the men and boys. One very cute 5 year old boy didn’t comply, and his orange t-shirt saying “if its broke, I didn’t do it” made me laugh out loud. Dr. Cheryl tells us that the church service has tripled in size since the earthquake, with many Haitians coming to Christ as all else but Him falls to the ground around them.
After Church, our “closed” clinic soon had many patients walking up, some carrying sick family members looking for care, others trucked in from local villages seeking the same. We treated several with antibiotics, ibuprofen. One young man hobbled in on badly infected feet, which we debrided in our treatment room under a digital block, and plan to debride him under a spinal block in AM. A young woman rolled in with infected external fixator pins, another with a full leg cast put on the day after the earthquake then lost to follow up.
Later in the day we were taken to a neighboring Minonite Mission that is housing about 25 sick and post surgical patients. They have 5 or 6 with complex, non-healing wounds, after trauma or post surgical. We signed up 5 to be brought over to our operating room tomorrow morning to take a closer look at their wounds, debride and clean them, and place wound vacs.
Our “ward” has 11 patients, some post op, one awaiting ankle surgery in the morning – our first patient for the day tomorrow. We expect between 200 and 250 patients to come to be seen in the clinic tomorrow. We are prepared for them, with our medical team, supported by a team of RN’s from Oklahoma that just arrived, we have a plan in place to work until the last patient is seen.
A neurosurgeon arrived with the Oklahoma team as well, and there is a plan for him to travel to a local hospital housing children with untreated hydrocephalus, and he will evaluate them for VP shunts.
The general trend here is definitely away from acute trauma and orthopedic injuries, and toward follow up care, and general medical care – the need for this is great.
One of the patients we evaluated today had a crush injury to her low back, with a large wound. She was pinned under the rubble of her church – she had just arrived for a class as part of a worship team – for five days. She was unable to move, but heard the voices of her rescuers, and eventually that of her own mother, who was the first to reach her. She also lost her left arm above the elbow, that surgical wound is healing well.
The stories of tragedies and miracles, horrific trauma and amazing recovery, fill this place.
We are resting outside our guesthouse again tonight, and are ready for another day tomorrow.
Robert P. Wills, M.D.
Austin Pain Associates