Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Haiti Update

January 26, 2010

Dear Friends and Family,

Here's an update based on my latest conversation with Mark.

He felt that yesterday was one of the best days of all and that usually means that he felt he was able to help in some way. Mark is not one to enjoy thumb twiddling. The team always starts with a prayer and ends with a prayer. I believe that their prayers and those prayers and well wishes from all of you have been a sustaining factor in this endeavor.

Some of the team members drove to a poorer part of Port au Prince (hard to imagine...). LDS church members in that area were contacted ahead of time and told that a medical clinic would be set up in the chapel and to let their families and neighbors know. So there was a good crown there and they worked from 10 am to 5 pm with no breaks. The team now consists of 6 doctors, 1 operating room nurse, and 2 mental health specialists since some departed on Sunday.

They saw lots of dirty wounds and gashes which needed attention. These people had not been in contact with medical personnel for the last 11 days except for 2 guys who had pins put in their broken legs earlier. So they did follow-up consultation with these men. The team did diagnose a new broken leg during their clinic, too. Mark saw 2 babies that were dehydrated and vomiting so they got them started on rehydration liquid. He also saw two brand new babies (only a couple days old) that were born in these crazy conditions in Haiti.

When there is a head or other injury that will need future attention, they write with a felt pen on the gauze what the diagnosis is and what has been done or needs to be done. That way the next group of docs and nurses (whoever they are) in the coming days and weeks will have an idea of what has been done. Continuum of care is not a definite in Haiti.

They also saw just regular fevers and colds which come with daily existence and are heightened when you are living in refugee conditions in tent camps or just out in the open.

One woman with diabetes came in with a wound on her leg, the size of 3 footballs. The wound was so infected and diseased and the doctor who took care of her removed pounds of dead tissue which he put in a bucket. The healing can either start now or she will eventually need an amputation due to the wound, diabetes, infection.

The rest of the team members delivered food during the day and worked on other projects. They even took a couple boxes of food to one group of the US military which for some reason had not received their food allotment yet. They were most appreciative and very hungry.

The best news of all is that it was confirmed that little Fedeline with the scalp injury and burns is now at a burn center in Miami, Florida. Medical Teams International were the ones that arranged for her transportation there.

Many of you ask what can be done. Mark continues to share that this country will need our monetary donations to one agency or another. He also feels that rehabilitation doctors and plastic surgeons are going to be very important in the coming months/years. He also hopes that organizations like Habitat for Humanity will have a strong presence there as the country rebuilds. Construction workers will be needed.

See the pictures, taken by Deseret News photographer, Jeffrey Allred, which provide an amazing visual of the extent of the destruction in various parts of Port au Prince. See also a photo of Mark (gray shirt) helping a patient with leg wounds in the chapel yesterday.

Mark has met an LDS Bishop who also runs an orphanage there. He said there will be thousands of new orphans in this country. Like so many of the orphanages, it will need rebuilding and resupplying. Mark will try to get a list from this man of what needs to be done. I think every orphanage in Haiti will need help to get back on their feet.

He also shared that it seems like additional shipments of supplies are not the best answer right now. It has become a nightmare finding secure locations for these shipment supplies to be stored. He reiterated that the supplies which have been delivered or will soon be delivered just have to be stored and then allotted to those in need. If this isn't done carefully, they could fall into the wrong hands.

Once again, he thanks the staff at Corvallis Family Medicine for making it possible for him to take this journey. It would not have been possible without his partners- Doctors Bruce Thomson, Aaron David, Jared Nelson, Lara Gamelin, Ed Piepmeier, and Bette Lenehan, who covered his call and saw his patients. And thank you to Shelly Hunt, Office Manager, for rearranging the schedules. He's also appreciative of the flexibility of his patients who had all their appointments adjusted.

He plans to fly directly from Port au Prince to Salt Lake City at 5 am tomorrow (Wednesday), arriving at SLC airport around 10 am. He doesn't know when his connection to Portland will be yet, but it is scheduled for that same day supposedly.

It will be wonderful to have him back home again.

Alice in Oregon


Saturday, January 23, 2010

News From Haiti

We've heard a great deal about the Haitian earthquake. There is incredible human suffering. The news in this post may just bring things home a bit and make things more personal.

A missionary mom's husband is a doctor and has volunteered to help the Haitians. Here is some news from her which she passed on to us:

Her name is Alice, and she writes:

January 22, 2010

Dear Friends and Family,

Here's the latest update from Mark following last night's phone call.

Yesterday was spent seeing patients in the morning at the clinic and trying to get the 12-year-old girl, Fedeline Mon Fleury, into a hospital so her burns could be treated 24-7.  Mark drove around for a couple of hours with the little girl, the girl's mom, and an LDS church leader in Haiti.  They went to the US embassy, a military facility, the UN (not sure what he meant by that except maybe it was the location of the United Nations presence in Haiti), and no one could help.  Finally they were referred to a US military hospital unit close to the airport and the doctors there agreed that she needed to be sent to Kings Hospital which is also close to the hospital.  Medical personnel from Medical Teams International (formerly called NW Medical Teams) which is headquartered in Portland, Oregon were helping to staff this hospital and doing a tremendous job.  So Fedeline can stay there but we don't know for how long and the doctors all agree that she needs to be treated for her severe burns in the U.S.

Here is her photo:

At the same time, I received an email here on our home computer from Dr. Rob Sheridan who is in Haiti with Partners in Health.  This is another great non-profit co-founded by Dr. Paul Farmer whose story about his work in Haiti was documented in Tracy Kidder's book, Mountains Beyond Mountains.   Dr. Sheridan, critical care surgeon, who actually now works with Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston (not Galveston's Burn Unit), emailed us that if we can get Fedeline to Boston, they will take care of her and do the necessary surgeries and skin grafts that she needs.  So when Mark called I relayed this great news to him and he asked me to email Dr. Sheridan and ask him to visit Fedeline at King's Hospital.  The next step will be trying to get her to Boston and we have some leads on that.  I will know more when I talk to Mark tonight. Communication is complicated via satellilte phone, emails, etc.  I hope they can talk directly today.

At the same time, another severe aftershock hit and endangered the work going on at the Sacred Heart Hospital located close to LDS church/medical clinic where the team was seeing patients.  Many severely injured patients were laying around waiting to be seen at Sacred Heart. Can you imagine having a broken leg and not being seen for 10 days?  So Mark and others went there and moved the people who had femur fractures.  There were 13 of them with femur fractures and they carefully loaded them into 3 pickups and took them to a hospital that could see them.  If you have a femur fracture, you aren't going to be able to be walking the streets to find a hospital...    They had to leave the fibula and tibia fractures on the grounds of Sacred Heart. Some of the femur fracture patients were taken to the University Hospital and some were taken to the USNS Comfort, a US Navy ship that has a crew of 850 trained to provide 1000 hospital beds and 11 operating rooms.  This will make such a big difference.  If you want to know more about what the US is doing, open the attachment.  This was provided to me by Peggy Peirson, the Emergency Management director for our local county.

Mark shared that the name of the game right now is INFECTIONS, internal and external.  One woman he saw yesterday had a gash across her forehead which went down to the bone.  And on one side was an abcess of pus 1/2 the size of a baseball.  Mark's impressions continue to be that it looks like a bomb dropped on every street.  There are so many people with deep cuts filled with lots of dirt.  Every house seems to be built of concrete and that means that most of the living people in Port au Prince probably had concrete of some size fall on them.  He feels that the real savings of life now will be to keep people dying from infections.

I keep thinking about that young woman, volunteering at the clinic, who survived the earthquake.  She was sick when the earthquake hit and hadn't gone to her university class.  It crushed and killed her 80 fellow students and the professor.  Mark says that there are many college kids volunteering to help at the medical clinic because their university classes has stopped completely.  I'm wondering if there is a possibility that US universities would consider taking some of these college aged kids if homes were provided.  I know that this happened to Loyola students in New Orleans during Katrina.  This young woman told Mark that they would probably be out of school for 2 years while the university was rebuilt.  Any thoughts on this?  Haiti will need educated and trained individuals to help with the recovery and I hate seeing these youth get set back 2 years.

He and other members of the team are heading out to another city or town today that has not received much medical attention.  He commented about how teams from all over the world are working together- Israelis, Spaniards, Cubans, US Military, Mennonites, Argentinians, and others. That's wonderful and shows the human desire to do good. It's just sad that it takes a major catastrophe to bring people together.

Many of you have asked, what you can do.  Mark feels that what they need are specific supplies like sutures, antibiotics, pins and plates for fractures, casting material.  He said the best thing to do is to send money to a trusted cause.  We recommend the following:

LDS Humanitarian Services  http://give.lds.org/emergencyresponse (the team Mark is with)
Healing Hands for Haiti http://www.healinghandsforhaiti.org/  (Dr. Jeff Randle, the director, came on the same team as Mark)
Partners in Health  http://pih.org/home2.html
Medical Teams International http://www.medicalteams.org/sf/home/Haiti_Earthquake.aspx
Doctors Without Borders http://doctorswithoutborders.org/index.cfm
Clinton Bush Haiti Fund http://clintonbushhaitifund.org/
Catholic Relief Services https://secure.crs.org/site/Donation2?df_id=3181&3181.donation=form1
Mercy Corps http://www.mercycorps.org/
Habitat for Humanity International https://www.habitat.org/cd/giving/donate.aspx?link=227
God's Little Angels http://www.glahaiti.org
American Red Cross http://www.redcross.org/portal/site/en/menuitem.94aae335470e233f6cf911df43181aa0/?vgnextoid=15c0c5a210826210VgnVCM10000089f0870aRCRD

I know that there are many other great organizations.  But there are also new, fraudulent ones that have been recently created so stick with those that are tried and true.  Mark shared that Dr. Jeff Randle, the director of Healing Hands for Haiti (2nd on the list) came over on the same team and Mark says he is a great person.  Healing Hands for Haiti runs a Rehabilitation Center in Haiti for those with disabilities.  Mark feels that this will be a crucial facility in the future with all of the amputees, injuries, etc. that have occurred.

There is much good happening over there, it's not all disasters.  Here's a link to my cousin's daughter, Jill Wilkin, who was united yesterday in Portland with "Sammy", a little Haiti boy that they have been trying to adopt for over 2 years.

Look at the relief and joy in Jill's face!

All for now.