Tuesday, January 19, 2010

On the Ground

Well, I’m in Haiti now. It’s really hot here. I mean REALLY. The sweat feels like a waterfall down my body. It’s disgusting. Haiti itself reminds me of rural Indonesia. In the part we’re in, it’s hard to tell what’s destruction and what’s just normal workmanship for these parts. We’ve setup shop in what I’ve heard called the “nicest hospital in the country.” King’s Hospital was scheduled to open next month, but that timeline has been accelerated a bit. As a result, it’s not exactly finished. The room I’m sitting in now is just bare cement walls. There’s wires hanging where power outlets should go and holes for pipes and lights. It’s been cleaned up and put into service early, but it’s performing admirably. Right now we’re at capacity, but we hope to expand into the unused floor if we can get more cots.


Most of the work seems to be orthopedic in nature. Lots of crushed limbs and the like. We have two operating rooms that stay pretty busy. They’d stay busier, but the power keeps going out, which makes the sterilization cycle start all over. There’s a giant generator in the yard, but we don’t have the cables or skills to hook it up. Hopefully we can get it going, though. That would solve a lot of problems. That and getting the water running right. But one thing at a time. Then there’s always the whole getting shipments here thing.


I also visited the UN base today when we went on a supply run. Now THERE’S chaos! They have much larger facilities, yes, but also a whole lot more staff. But it just seems like chaos. No triage and no record keeping. We’re taking in some of their post-op patients this evening so they can take in more pre-ops. We have a really good relationship with them, which is good for the bypassing the red tape.


Dr. Dan (of Creation fame) is serving as the hospital administrator and is responsible for most of these relationships. He’s also organizing this place in a way that keeps everyone sane. There are departments with directors and coordination and record keeping, just like a real hospital. Imagine that! I’ve been asked to serve in a “Director of Operations” role, basically just trying to keep this place physically running. I’m not quite sure what all that entails at this point. But Bill Essig said it means I get a raise, so if anyone back at MTI is reading this, make it happen!


Haiti itself isn’t quite what I expected. Or maybe it’s this disaster that is different. Food is scarce, but we can eat two meals a day. There’s enough water. The power is sometimes on. It’s not quite the barren wasteland I was preparing for. A lot of team members have been surprised. I know there are places that are better and worse – this one is probably in the middle. There’s also no reporters out here. Probably because it’s not quite as exciting.


The funniest thing so far has been the little Haitian kids who reach out and feel my arm hair. It’s confusing because I’m white, but have black hair. They just sort of point and say “black.” Apparently this is unusual. I was carrying on a conversation while a little boy was running his fingers up and down my arm, trying to figure something out. Took me a minute to figure out what was going on.


I think that’s about it for now. Not much time left on the battery. Thanks for all the kind notes. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to upload some media tomorrow.


Did I mention how much I want a shower?


1 comment:

Andrew said...

Hey Matt, heard about the 6.1 aftershock. You ok?