When we watch the pictures of devastation in Haiti, we only get a small glimpse of what the people of Haiti, and the volunteers who are assisting them, are dealing with.
The staff at the Trauma Center at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona just received a letter from a colleague volunteering his services that helps provide a broader picture.
First of all, thank you for providing coverage so that I can be here. This country has been completely devastated. There is no medical or any other infrastructure to speak of. FEMA has established the courtyard of a school for our hospital. The buildings are for the most part condemned but the outer walls provide a secure perimeter for the 82nd Airborne to maintain. We are surrounded by tent cities and we were made aware of how unsafe it is when three gsw (gun shot wounds) that we could hear were dropped off on our doorstep. The sickest I operated on with Eileen Bolger from UW. He ended up with a tension ptx for which he got a chest tube, splenectomy, packed left kidney and diaphragm repair. Took him back the next day and closed him and doing great, almost ready for discharge. The other two also did well after multiple procedures.
FEMA combined the East, South and West IMSURT to staff what is now essentially the only OR and ICU asset in Port au Prince. Many other countries have pulled out and so we are receiving patients from all over. We are splitting the cases between 4 general surgeons. We also have 3 people icu boarded. We also have a pediatric surgeon, an OB and 3 orthopods.
The pathology has been amazing. The OR runs almost around the clock. I did a bka for tetanus last night. Also did a hysterectomy with the OB guy for sepsis post c-section. Unfortunately, the patient did not survive.
Between cases I have been designated the conscious sedation guy since we only have one anesthesiologist. There is an endless stream of fractures and wounds that need sedation to deal with. We just got a dermatome and mesher so we will start with grafting the ones that are granulating.
As for me, I am doing fine. I had to start meningitis proph (prophylaxis) due to pushing Valium on a kid with a seizure that ruled in. We have no showers and we sleep outside under mosquito nets. It is incredibly hot and everyone drinks at least 6 bottles of water a day. That said, everyone is in good spirits as we are so busy and the people are very appreciative, especially the children.
They have restated that this is a two week mission so hopefully I will get back on time. Again, thank you for covering and I can assure you that you are really making a contribution by enabling me to make this trip.
All the best,
(Dr. Ara Feinstein)
I happen to be someone who has benefited personally from the great staff at this hospital. I have no doubt that the people Dr. Feinstein is treating in Haiti are getting excellent care, and I wish him a safe stay while he gives his time and talents to help people who so desperately need help.
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