On our way to Hinche
In true Haitian fashion, the driver who was to be here to take us to Hinche at 8am just called to say that he thinks he’ll be here by 10 or 10:30. I’m going to guess that it will more likely be noon :) So, we thought we’d take advantage of extra time here in Port au Prince where there is ready internet access by posting the run down yesterday’s activities.
The morning was spent catching up with Beth and Jonna the two amazing midwives who run the Heartline maternity center. Around noon we had a short visit with the patients at the hospital, then Carol and Cara went to the UN Logistics base to attend the reproductive health cluster meeting with our interpreter, and new friend Magalie HooChong. The meeting was held in the UNFPA offices and was attended by representatives for various NGOs working on reproductive health issues in the camps and more broadly in the country. A representaive from Zanmi Lasante (ZL), the Haitian partner organization of Partners In Health, gave a presentation about the family planning program that ZL is running here in Port au Prince. The primary issue brought forward was the dramatic increase in pregnancies among those under 15 years old. It became clear that these pregnacies are largely the result of violence and though preventing pregnancy is important, it is not enough, and the heart of the issue is security.
Meanwhile, Rhonda and Rachel traveled with our host here at the guesthouse, Chris, and Dr. Jen, pediatrician from Minnesota who serves as medical director for the Heartline field hospital, to Project Medishare for rehab services. Project Medishare is run by the University of Miami and has been opperating in Haiti for more than 15 years. They were the first medical personel to respond to the earthquake and in the months following the earthquake, Project Medishare opperated the 300 bed critical-care Miami field on the grounds of the airport. In June the project moved to Hospital Bernard Mevs in downtown Port au Prince. Rhonda, Rachel, Chris and Dr. Jen took 4 patients: 1 for wound care on a poorly healing stump, 1 for a prosthetic recheck, 1 for physical therapy on a foot with nerve damage secondary to bilateral tib/fib fractures that went weeks withou, 1 for persistent lower limb edema. While there it became clear that these four were only a few of the MANY earthquake victims recieving services. The injuries included spinal cord injuries, multiple amputations, poorly healing wounds and fractures needing revision. Project Medishare’s volunteers were nothing short of amazing. They enthusiatically provided world-class care with dignity and compassion.
At dinner we all came back to continue to celebrate Amanda who will be going to the US soon to be treated for her brachioplexus injury at Mayo Clinic. It’s hard to imagine what she must be feeling as she prepares for such a life changing experience. She’ll be leaving her home and country for the first time to go to place where she doesn’t speak the language or understand the culture, and will not return for five years. It will be her first plane ride and her first experience with cold weather- her first interaction with the non-Haitian world.
After dinner we said goodbye to all of our new friends; the patients at the hospital, the heartline staff, and the babies. It’s difficult to understand, and impossible to explain, how people we’ve know for such a short time have had such a tremendous impact on each of us. They will be a part of our hearts and minds forever.
Photos from the Birth Center note the Footboard-it is made into a birth stool