Haiti Jan. 17, 2013

We had to go downtown to the Valiere Pharmacy by the Iron Market to pick up the medications. I was able to get the order that I had previously placed. A couple of the Haitian clinicians met us down there. I was trying to buy a few more meds but decided not to with the wait taking too long and them wanting me to pay first. We headed out and I was able to get a pack of blank notebooks off the street for 150 gourdes. I use these to keep track of the patients seen, the medications needed and for the doctors to write on their patient’s seen plus write prescriptions. I had help from another doctor and two other women from a Canadian medical team who could help with logistics, we were also joined by 3 other of my Haitian friends who helped with translating and entertaining the children with playing soccer I believe at the clinic that day. A project manager who knew a friend of mine and had flown in from NY that day doing some sort of documenting for an artist coming also joined us. The artist would be in the next day and planned to paint with the children and may do some murals in the camp.
We prepared to host a tented camp at a place called Cappva in Cite Soleil, an extremely impoverished area which has been adversely affected with crime, riddled with poverty and a lack of access to resources, this coupled with numerous people living in tight quarters with poor housing facilities has rendered this a dangerous area where the only the brave travel within. I recall in the past wanting to volunteer here in another other clinic in Cite Soleil a not being able to find transportation, presumable Capp due to the inherent risks. The people in the tented camp Cappva had been displaced from the earthquake; I understood from a previous visit that the tented camp residents had not had access to food, clean latrines or water for extended periods. Such harsh conditions, a complex culmination to survive amidst, make it difficult to contain diseases that occur din poverty. Running a mobile clinic as the head person leading the initiative here was no small task, certainly different from the challenges that arise with focusing on seeing a multitude of sick patient’s in a day with having to improvise in treatment plans. Now I had to make it possible for: multiple providers to be able to give care effectively with time constraints to a whole lot of people; ensure that a make shift pharmacy is adequately stocked and organized to handle the flow; have the community leaders step up to manage the long lines and prevent havoc from developing and taking over as impatience grows from long waits in hot climates; have transportation was available; and the many other small and large tasks that come about with surprises like possible equipment failure; lacking enough tests like pregnancy tests or running out of certain medications. Yes, without faith in God and the strength He gives I don’t think there is any way I could have made it through. And knowing were serving and helping people, no matter how tiring it may get or maybe even overwhelming at times, still somehow I love it all. We set up an area for the pharmacy. As it was later in the day by the time we arrived, and we were one clinician short, as we weren’t able to connect with him downtown in time, we had to come up with a plan to minimize the volume and return for more complete clinic another day. I had those assisting pull out the 50 sickest patients (i.e. with fevers…) to be seen. It felt like the line continued to grow as there were many patient’s trickling through from babies on up in the covered wooden contained, but open building we were stationed within. We made plans to return Saturday as there were many more patient’s with medical needs that day. After the clinic, a group of us went out to eat at Muncheez, a pizza place in Petionville. I had a cold with allergies so we stopped by a street vendor in the area to get some medicine, it was nice to just by a few pills and negotiate a low price with some change instead of having to pay for a big box of meds. A couple of us had got out of the car to walk to the vendor and got separated from the group, but we reconnected. Once together we all together we enjoyed pizza, they had Prestige, a popular Haitian beer and I had coke. The intention was to take the doctors out to eat as thanks for their hard work, but due to it being late they were not able to come. I decided in the future I’ll just pay them some for the clinics and not try and arrange for group meals. Later that night, I met with Dr. Daly, a neurosurgeon interested in helping out a lot with the mobile clinics. He has some unique visions that are exciting including partnering with local hospitals to be able to share resources like use of an ambulance for mobile clinics so that we can be better equipped with oxygen and other supplies as needed. He wants to talk to the Ministry of Health in Haiti to make progress with this initiative and he can work with the Haitian doctors to embark on this promising connection. He moved recently to Haiti from Eastern Europe, I found it admirable that he sold his car to help with the move. I helped him find a place with a friend of mine closer to the hospital which was walking distance. We met there for a long time for planning and he came to work at the mobile clinic in Cite Soleil that Saturday.