Sunday, February 21, 2010

in his own words

At our clinic Thursday of last week we had a 3 month old baby that needed to be admitted to the hospital. After we finished we took her to General Hospital in down town Port au Prince. While we were there it seemed pretty obvious that they could use some help. I gave a brief description of who I was and that we had three people staying behind on the weekends willing to work if they could use the help. They were grateful for the offer and invited us to work whenever we could.

This morning after breakfast a group of 7 of us (a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, an ER nurse, a Haitian nurse, a translator, three missionaries and Myself), hitched a ride to the hospital in the center of town. We arrived at nine and after a brief orientation were immediately put to work. I was a bit nervous as I have not worked in an ER since PA school. Fortunately they have set up a fast track which diverts most of the non emergency cases to primary care or general practice people such as myself. I felt right at home and felt very used. My first two cases where sprained ankles. I have not made splints since PA school so it was a treat to review how to do that again. A little later in the morning I had a young 22 year old women who had been hit by falling debris during the Jan 12th earthquake. She had not sought treatment as she had only recently began to suffer from shoulder pain. I was able to order an x-ray and had the films back within an hour or two. Her x-rays pretty clearly showed that she had a separated acromioclavicular joint. Essentially the shoulder end of her collar bone was no longer attached to her shoulder and now sits about ¾ of an inch higher than it should. The rest of the morning was pretty uneventful. We were able to see loads of patients and help reduce the burden a bit which again made me feel very useful.

The afternoon was surprisingly slow which had more to do with today being the second day of a three day country wide call to prayer. At 5:00 the Regular ER shift finished and the three of us were there to help keep the ER together until the night crew arrived at 7:00. 5:00 to 7:00 was a blur as Dr. Eva dealt with two cases of Malaria and a CNN news crew that sprung a visit. I had a young 26 year old man with a swollen belly, heart failure, and who's main problem I fear is HIV. I was able to put my phlebotomy skills back to work and drew some blood to send to the lab. A few patients later a young women came in who had been severely burned from the Jan 12th earthquake. She was just now coming in to seek treatment more than a month later for burns over 15% of her body all her right side limbs. Apparently she is a street vendor and was cooking when the earthquake hit. She feel into her cook stove and was likely burned by the grease and coals of her fire. She was a very sweet women and denied being in any pain. She kept repeatedly asking me if I was going to make her hurt, of which I kept replying no. Towards the end of the evening it became obvious that she was afraid that she was going to have her arm cut off. This may seem a bit irrational but many people who have been injured in the earthquake have had to have limbs amputated to save there lives. Having previously heard this that was her greatest concern. We were able to start an IV and get some antibiotics in her and hopefully she will be consulted by the plastics specialists in the morning to see what they can do for her burns. As the evening wound down we were asked to make sure that we had all of her patients discharged that were going home and the rest ready to present to the night crew coming on duty.

The ride home all though cramped was great as we got to ride in an air conditioned car. The closest I've gotten to that so far is a cold shower. It actually feels pretty amazing after a long day of work with a layer of sweat and dust so thick that you could scrap it off with a butter knife. We plan on working the same shift tomorrow and then will spend our last free day resting before the team returns on Tuesday.


No comments: