Day 2 Haiti: The team is settling in to care for injured patients who have travelled to Port-au-Prince from as far away as Cap Haitian, a 6-hour drive. Some we have seen before, and they have returned for follow up. Doctors Without Borders is scaling back here, thus the volume of injured patients at our doors is rapidly rising.
Genese, 32, lived in Jeremie on the southern peninsula, when Hurricane Matthew hit, 14 months ago. When the winds blew the neighbor’s roof onto her own, her home and family were crushed. She lost her husband and two-year old son, and she was left with multiple fractures. Is she one of the fortunate ones?
She survived the devastation and was flown to Port-au-Prince where she received care for the injuries. After more than a year of pain and 8 surgeries, she can now walk and her arm, deformed but functional, allows her to perform the activities required to care for herself. Tomorrow she will return to her home town to start anew.
Her husband and son will not be there, but she smiles at the opportunity to get back to her home town and rebuild her shop which once sustained her family. She is grateful for the care we provided, and she holds my hand with a heartfelt thank-you. As she walks out of the hospital, I am touched by the strength of the human spirit to persevere against the struggles that life presents. We are so fortunate.
Woodjina was supposed to die. At 5, she was riddled with infections in her left hip and right leg. Infections that would have quickly taken her as an adult. Here at home, these would have been recognized long before the three months it took for the problem to be recognized in the Haiti countryside. Most people here do not have access to medical care, and the hospital in which we work provides care that is not available in most parts of Haiti. After a year of multiple surgeries and antibiotics, she can now walk and is back in school. Her hip remains dislocated and will never be normal, but it should allow her to live a “normal life.” Her smile brings tears to the strongest members of the team. Mine flow freely.
In only 2 days we have seen many patients in follow up, taken a few to surgery, scheduled many more and started teaching the healthcare providers in what knowledge we have. We have also learned from them. Several victims of car accidents with multiple fractures await care that we can provide working with the local Haitian orthopedic surgeons, and with teaching the resident physicians, a very intelligent and driven group of individuals. Things are improving, hope is prevalent, and the people resilient.
More to come.
Bull Durham, President NAVMC