February 1, 2010
Today was focussed on airport operations. Two new organizations presented to the region, Angel Wings International will be working in Jacmel for the next 6 months and an organization from the Lutheran Church. As well I should tell you about the group Bemi Sehat, a midwifery based program that will be starting a birthing center in the region. They come with a 44 foot dome tent and will begin work later this week. Through my contacts, we were able to secure them a temporary permit for the department of health.
All organizations in the region are encouraged to attend the Health Cluster meetings led by the Department of Health. I brief all of the groups travelling through the airport, however some still arrive by boat and by car. All medical teams are advised to complete health surveillance forms. Honestly, many groups have been operating "under the radar" in Haiti for many years. In my work here in the spring, I was trying to encourage NGOs to work with the government. Many become frustruated as policies often take so long for approval. I think this earthquake in many ways is uniting medical aid, forcing everyone to work together which in the end will (hopefully) lead to improved health infrastructure and ultimately better patient care in the region. As we know, government bureaucracy is frustrating everywhere but even more so in Haiti.
We continued to receive small shipments of medical supplies from individual pilots flying out of Port au Prince. I was hand delivered potent pain medications which will help many of those having orthopedic and other surgeries. One of these planes was sponsored by Help for Orphans International. Sarah flew in with Jonathan on the plane and discussed her work in PAP while dropping off meds. Apparently John Travolta flew his 737 into PAP about a week ago, and the supplies have been slowly getting distributed around the region.
Our health cluster meeting was well attended and over 2 hours, which was typical. We did learn that the measles vaccine program would be put into full force on Wednesday. The fridges however did not arrive yet so the current vaccines are still in my house. The gel packs needed to be frozen so the representative from the Canadian DART team took them to their base to have them frozen for Wednesday.
I've finally had a few moments to start my nightly "telephone rounds" at the hospital. Basically I'm checking in with our larger centers to assess needs in terms of staffing, support personnel, meds and placement of physicians.
Hopefully I'll have a medical placement volunteer today, that can further help with long term planning for medical teams/physicians.
I've also realized that I too will need a replacement, at least for the short term. I leave Haiti February 20th but will return again in March. I'm accepting applications. If any of you have a medical or public health background, with strong management skills and can work non stop 12+hour days, please email me your CV.
Tuesday, February 2nd
A long day as usual, but we were joined by several new teams. The International Medical Assistance Team sent another crew of 6 via Santiago. Then later CCH sent another 6 for St. Michel. I did have to do a little reorganizing for the crew. I was hoping to send the IMAT to Maribal, a more remote mountain area but when I heard that Cayes Jacmel saw 400 people yesterday I knew they were in trouble. So, we've re-deployed them along with 2 staff from CCH to help out with Cayes Jacmel. I'm not sure what caused the sudden increase in patient numbers but this is Haiti, and when the word gets out that they are performing operations then people just flock in.
We had several great donations of medical supplies today as well, small amounts but much needed items. One of the planes was from PAP. They informed me of the process for receiving meds from the WHO depot. I will send a team up on Thursday to the depot for a pickup. I tried to go through the proper channels of ordering the meds via WHO but it seems that going directly to the depot is our best bet.
We did have an obstetric emergency today at the Lutheran Medical clinic. We arranged for referral to St. Michel for assessment. There are three others at Cayes Jacmel awaiting referrral out of the country, another young man with a spinal cord injury, an 18 month old baby that had a cardiac arrest and a third. The process is extremely difficult and the American team is working on the paperwork.
I'm wiped today so this blog is a little short. And yes, it may be a day late because the wireless internet was down today.
But just before I go, I want to say how proud I am of the Canadian military. I've been expressing my need for more staff and I had a clerk given to me today to help in a support role. Deana will be helping medical volunteers in the region. She was able to draw up a great spreadsheet to track volunteers and is teaching Ruth how to use the program. We also recruiting Peter from the fireman division, during his off duty hours. He will be assisting Barton with non-medical volunteers and project planning. And end of day I was treated to a large topographical map of the area. It will allow teams to have a greater knowledge of where they are going and help us to quickly identify needs.
Wednesday February 3, 2010
Another busy day, but at least I'm getting to bed before midnight. I met a lot of interesting people at the airport. One organizations has connections with the Maritime department out of Florida and will soon starting sending shipments via Miami to the port of Jacmel. We were able to assist her with connections at the local hospitals and are depot for biomedical storage. We also had 3 small groups from outside the city that came to ask for our assistance. One canadian woman has been living in a small sea side village 10 minutes by motorboat from Jacmel. She said that 150 homes in her village were destroyed and she needs help. We also got three other requests from small villages for assistance. We're beginnning to see that these are the smaller forgotten places. My team is helping to provide service for all. We are uniting both the large NGOs and small ones with the community to provide the best care to the Haiti people. I see so many groups coming through the airport that say they are interested in disaster relief. They are in for 24 hours to do assessments and then go back home to regroup. We are on the ground now and have been since 7 days after the quake. If there are groups in Jacmel, we know about them. We are the NGO connection. Actually I'd debated whether or not we should form a new group for this project. In the end, I'm continuing to call myself Haiti Village Health, Project Jacmel Airport, with my affiliate partners.
I am so happy to have one of the military secretary's doing some work for us. Today she was finally able to get the spreadsheet printed of all the medical organizations in the area. She merged our contact list with our volunteer list which will make it easier for my airport staff. And, we've got our map on the wall with locations of medical projects in the area. The project is starting to run more smoothly.
Tonight I met with the group from Community Coalition for Haiti that are staying downstairs. I've been working closely with them from the beginning and we are trying to strategize to get medical care to the more remote areas in association with the Department of Health clinics. We're looking for small medical teams, 2 doctors, 4 nurses/EMT/pharmacist, 2 support staff. These groups would go to small remote villages to work with Haitian doctors or simply run mobile clinics.
I'm very happy to inform you that Haiti Village Health will be opening a small guest house in Jacmel. It can house 12 people...visiting medical teams or volunteers. I signed the lease today for 6 months and our move in date is February 14th. What a Valentine's present that will be!! We've got significant start up costs in terms of buying a generator, inverter, batteries and furniture. Once we are established I hope that guest fees will cover the expenses. I welcome anyone interested to come for a visit. $30 per person per day which includes 3 meals per day. If anyone is interested in coming to act as guest house manager for 1 month or greater please send me your details.
We also had another Health Cluster meeting tonight. They seem to get more "painful" as time goes on. They are still disorganized and last approximately 2 hours. Tonight's main topics: measles vaccine to restart in the city on Friday, lack of chlorinated water at the refugee camp, disapproval of infant formula being donated by the government of the Dominican Republic (we encourage all moms to breastfeed and free formula doesn't set a good predent), a new psychological support group has been formed but they need funding (anyone interested in helping this great project or writing them a grant proposal please contact me. These two gentlemen are well educated and are currently offering services for free but can expand their operation with funding....post traumatic stress is abundant in the region). We also discussed the OR capacity both at Cayes Jacmel and Hospital St. Michel.
I've got some stats of patients seen to date and will post soon.
More tomorrow...and guess what (I'm finally breaking down and buying a Haitian blackberry). The internet has been very poor lately and for those in the mobile technology industry. I don't know how these types of relief efforts were ever coordinated without cell phone technology. It's not uncommon for me to have palm pilot in one hand texting and talking on the phone at the same time. Today I actually got 3 calls while on my cell. The world is connected....
Tiffany Keenan, MD CCFP
Haiti Village Health
"Sustainable Health Care in Haiti"
7 Marley Beach Drive
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