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.