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


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