Sunday, January 31, 10 p.m. ET –
Just a quick update before bed:
We are all doing well. A virus has gone around the camp, but luckily only a few in our group have been affected and all have recovered without a problem.
Again, we split into different groups today. Dr. Dutton went to the main hospital and performed several cases, including a large facial laceration repair. Drs. Lind and McCarthy performed several surgeries as well, including sewing up the bowel of a gunshot victim.
Dr. Jay Dutton and Dr. Walter McCarthy performing a flap reconstruction of a complex facial wound.
The ortho and anesthesia team returned to the same hospital again. Drs. Fernandez and Van Thiel performed 14 surgeries, including a young boy who had displaced fractures in the tibia bones of both legs.
Our primary care team went to the Carrefour neighborhood, the epicenter of the earthquake. In the end, we set up shop in a school and saw close to 500 patients — all of whom have been sleeping in the street as their homes have collapsed. My first patient was a nine-year-old boy, who came in with a minor leg wound, but began crying uncontrollably. Thinking there was more to the story I asked if his family was o.k. – his father and siblings died in the quake and his mother was in the hospital. He has spent the last two weeks living on his own on the streets. He was hungry, scared and alone. With the help of the local pastor and our group liaison, we were able to arrange for him to stay with a family until his mother could be discharged.
Dr. Mahesh Raju (left) and Dr. Jafaar Golzar reading films and diagnosing congenital heart defects, acute MIs, and many congestive heart failure patients.
The stories are heartbreaking and the destruction, both to families and society in general, is overwhelming.
The situation here is almost surreal. Every block contains one or two buildings that are completely destroyed. Three and four stories collapsed onto each other like pancakes – you can look and tell no one could have survived. Every day we drive the same route and every day I seem to notice things I did not notice before: schools, kindergartens, Internet cafes, stores, restaurants, churches all in ruins.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of bodies still buried in the rubble. You feel guilty, intrusive and voyeuristic taking pictures although you know you are doing so not as a tourist but to inform others of the destruction here. If the world forgets about Haiti, this country will be lost. There seems to be no functioning government here – no army or police in the streets, no bulldozers clearing debris or bodies, no words of reassurance from the president and no organization to the chaos.
In addition, over 80 percent of the population lived in absolute poverty BEFORE the quake. The societal upheaval, the impending public health nightmare and the physical destruction will be very difficult, if not impossible to fix. My thoughts and prayers go out to all those here who were affected by the quake.
Photos sent by Dr. Benjamin Lind, vascular fellow at Rush.