Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Lock Down Again

Around the 28th of November we were on lock down in the hospital compound, now we are again due to the election results being announced last night. To say the least people are upset and there is potential for some major problems. There is no clear winner since nobody got over 50% of the votes so there will be another election in Jan for the 2 people with the most votes. People are unhappy with the announcement of the 2 leading candidates because it definitely looks like there is fraud. There are going to be problems as long as the current president's candidate gets through. It seems like people don't really care who goes on to win, as long as its not Preval's candidate.

The sky is filled with smoke as people have been burning tires in different places. The airport is closed for at least the next 2 days and the hospital is pretty quiet since most people are not wanting to brave the streets to come out to the hospital. Most of the translators could not make it in today or have left early so that they are not caught in any unwanted chaos. We will see how this afternoon goes because we may be short staffed on the nursing front if the evening shift is not able to come in to work.

We will keep you updated on everything, but please continue to keep the whole situation here in your prayers. Haiti definitely needs the help, direction, and peace that only God can bring.


Saturday, December 4, 2010


Smiling Pretty before Thanksgiving dinner.
Starting from front left is Jessica, Me, Marc, Brian, Sam, Sarah, Terry,
Jeannie, Lynn, Audra, Junior, Azariah

In my last post on my rundown of what happened during November I forgot to mention some of the good things that have happened as well. Of course there was Thanksgiving and we actually took the afternoon off in order to celebrate. At that time we only had long term volunteers (about 11 of us) and so it was a little bit quieter and relaxing. I had the opportunity to try out my cooking skills by making pumpkin pancakes for all of us for breakfast and they seemd to be a hit. It gave us a little flavor of fall time in spite of it being 90 degrees.

For our Thanksgiving meal we transformed the hallway into a dining room and made it look as festive as possible. When Nathan and I last came back from the States we packed our suitcases full of Thanksgiving goodies. The TSA people were amused when they found all these canned goods in our luggage and had to run it through the x-ray machine a couple time, but it was worth it. It was quite the group effort to make a whole Thanksgiving meal on 3 hot plates. Although, since the prosthetics lab wasn't being used we were able to use their oven that bakes the prosthetics and instead baked our stuffing, green bean casserole, and sweet yams in it. It worked out well and they didn't even turn out tasting like plastic! It was quite a treat to have all of us sitting around a table at one time and able to enjoy some quiet and fellowship together. It was certainly something to be thankful for. We finished off the day with cherry pie (also made in the prosthetics oven) and games. Perfect!
A week before Thanksgiving Jeannie and Terry Dietrich arrived at the hospital. Terry is an orthopedic surgeon and Jeannie is a nurse and they have committed to being here for the next year. We are thankful for their willing hearts to continue to help out here. It will be nice to have a long term orthopedic surgeon here who will be able to bring continuity to the ortho program instead of having to train in new people each week. We will still be having a few volunteers come, but having a couple long term volunteers in the OR will really help things run more smoothly. Certainly another thing to be thankful for.

There are many things to be thankful for, but I was reminded of it more as I walked down the street today. I went down the road to buy some fresh produce and Mac (one of our faithful translators) took me and Lynn (one of our long term RN's) down some alleys and across some crowded, dirtly living areas to where people were eagerly hoping to sell their goods. This market was right next to the community that lives in the middle of the main road in PAP. Its actually a community of people that have built their shelters in the median of one of the busiest roads in the city. The median is only about 6 feet across and it is lined with shelters made of tin and whatever else they could find. Most of these "houses" are about 6 ft by 5 ft or so. I stood in the middle of the median and was amazed that people would even dream of building there because large trucks and buses were rushing buy honking their horns and causing dust to fly through the air caking everything with a greyish dirt. But for many people that is their home and it has been for some time. Evidently these people were living there even before the earthquake. It boggles my mind, especially when I saw someone who lived there had a little 2 year old playing 6 inches from the road. Obviously they had nowhere else to go so that is how they ended up there. I can't even imagine what living like that is like.  I have no reason to complain about my sturdy room (even if it is inside the hospital still) because its 4 times the size of so many people's house. It certainly makes me appreciate what I have so much more and shows that I don't often need all the things that I think I do.
Digging in!


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Where did November go?

Wow, it is already December and I never even posted a single thing in November. Here is a quick rundown of November. In the beginning of the month we had Hurricane Thomas, then we started seeing cholera patients at the hospital, ending the month with the presidential elections. Throw in all the regular daily crisis and you get a pretty busy month...which is not too out of the ordinary for Haiti. We keep thinking that there couldn't possibly be more hardship, but then the next thing comes up. You never know what to expect and our hearts just cry out for relief for the people of Haiti. Through it all they are strong and resilient, but it makes me wonder how much more they can really take.

Fortunately Hurricane Thomas didn't do as much damage as it could have. Yes, it certainly caused damage with flooding and some strong winds, but where we were at we just got a bunch of rain. It was earily quiet when Thomas was supposed to hit because we kept waiting for the strong winds, but it was still. Towns just a few miles to the west as well as the tip of Haiti sustained some damage, but we were ok. I truely believe that God kept moving the storm farther and farther west so that it wasn't as bad as it could have been. At one point it was projected to hit around Jacmel, but the eye of the storm went right between Cuba and Haiti. What a blessing.

In case your interested here is a picture to see how close it was to us.

As soon as cholera cases were confirmed in Haiti, we knew it would only be a matter of time before we would start seeing patients at the hospital. They started coming around the second week in November. Since Nathan and I were out the country when our first cases came, Marc Julmeisse  (one of our long term nurses) did an amzing job of helping to set up the cholera tent. At one point it was incredibly stressful for her because a patient at deaths door arrived at the tent and soon passed away. This brought on the difficulty of finding out how to dispose of the body since everyone in the area is terrified of anything having to do with cholera. The hospital staff took the body to the cemetery but word must have gone out that they were burying a cholera body and were chased out of the cemetary with rocks. Nobody was able to give direction on what to do with the body and so after hours of frustrating conversations with different people our medical director was ready to drop the body off on the mayors front door. Finally it was resolved amid much frustration and chaos.

Currently our cholera tent has between 5-20 patients, but we are more of a transitional treatment center for them to receive care until they can be transferred to a cholera treatment center (CTC) that is better equipped. However things have the potential of changing if the CTC gets too full and are unable to receive more patients, then I am sure we will start treating more patients. It has been projected that the worst of it will start hitting around the middle of December. I guess we will find out soon if things don't change quick and it doesn't seem like the help is going to be coming from the government. Nathan went to a health cluster meeting where the current president was in a forum and some cholera experts were saying that Haiti's water system needed to be fixed, but President Preval kind of skipped around the statement implying they simply couldn't fix the water because 60% of people in Haiti didn't have clean water and so it would just be too much for them to fix. He seemed to want to just treat the disease rather than preventing more people from getting cholera. If the root problem isn't fixed its only going to get worse and happen again. Nathan obviously came away from that meeting depressed and upset.

Talking about politics and government, the elecetions were this past Sunday but really don't know where everything stands with that. There was so much fraud that people are trying to throw that election out. Even with a new president in power it doesn't seem like anything will change for the better, but we can still hope. For the past 5 days we have been in a "lock down" at the hospital because we haven't known how much violence and demonstrations there could be. Fortunately we haven't had any truama patients and things have been rather quiet here, but out in the city we have heard different reports. Some of the translators said it was pretty bad by their houses and some of the polling stations. Every single translator that I talked to said they were not going to vote either because they felt like it was too dangerous to go to the polling station or they felt like it was going to be useless to vote. Nathan was getting between 10-20 secerity alerts and so he was determined to keep us all inside the hospital property. Now it looks like it is ok to venture out, but still being very careful. We will just have to take it one day at a time.

All in all, we are safe and God is taking care of us no matter what happens.