Today we got to see Jacque Edouard Alexis (the former Prime Minister who came to Pueblo to be our guest speaker at our Health4haiti fundraiser just this past October). His university, Quisqueya, the best in Haiti was completely flattened by the quake. 22 people were killed, including the vice-chancellor. Mr. Alexis said that it was lucky that it was at a time when most people were gone. There was a group of educators in front of his house this morning sitting on chairs having a meeting about getting schools started again. We then went to he and his wife Frederika’s old residence, which is where she has moved her woman’s center, which was also flattened. She was in the building at the time, and miraculously survived. We introduced her to Dr. Bob Hilgers, gynecological oncologist from Louisville, KY.* He was planning to come here with me before the quake hit to meet her and discuss starting a cervical cancer screening pilot project in her woman’s center there. Bob is so keen on getting this going in Haiti that he came down anyway to join me here. He presented his recommendations to she and Michelle, who runs the center for her. The program in Gonaives will be a trial. If it goes well, Bob thinks in about a year it can be started in her center’s in the other cities in Haiti. Bob will come down personally with others of our team to help train the midwives and nurses. He suggests starting with three. He said “this needs to be a woman’s project, carried out by women for women in order for it to be successful”. He will act as their medical trainer, advisor, and supervisor, if they want, along with Garody Jean-Charles who is an Ob-Gyn from Port-au-Prince. He can read the digital camera pictures of the cervixes also from Kentucky to tell them who to treat and who not to. They were so excited. I think it gave them hope today to have him paint such a positive picture of something in the future for Haiti to get their minds off the despair at hand for a minute.
* I met Bob through my contact with Paul Casey of the Colorado Haiti Project after members of our Pueblo team decided they wanted to try and set up the new “see and treat” cervical cancer screening program in Gonaives. This idea was the brain child of Drs. Robert Mclean and Ginger Vaughn who started researching it last year on their return from our January Gonaives mission. They and others did a lot of work getting the idea started, and then we found Bob (who recently returned from a 10 day trip to Africa to observe a very successful and well established program there) and he agreed to partner with us to put the program in Haiti.
16 more folks came in today, one Orthopedic surgeon from Chicago and 11 fire-fighters with Shane Murphy from Denver, 2 providers from Ohio and 2 from Pennsylvania.
We organized them into 4 outreach teams and they spent the afternoon at our ‘command house’ going through the supplies we scored at the USAID warehouse the other day putting it into kits for them to work from. We had planned to deploy them tomorrow to new sites around the city. Interestingly, the 2 from Ohio had a contact in Mirebalais (up in the mountains toward the central plateau). They called him (he is a minister there) when they got here and he came down to P-A-P to talk to them about whether they might want to come there. It turns out that their little church clinic has 56 refugees from here to take care of. They had a Doctor from Ohio who went back yesterday. I asked him if he would like us to send one our teams there for the week. He was quite pleased. They will be getting more doctors on Monday, but this will cover them over this weekend. A new partnership has been forged. The 2 from Ohio went with him along with 2 of the Denver fire-fighters this afternoon. Dr. Roger was overjoyed that we had fielded our first team outside the city.
I turned over my Airline Ambassador team managing duties to Greg Gourgue and Dave Rivard tonight. We also went to the rental car agency and transferred my (originally Eric Miller and Frank Mckinney’s) rental car to him. (I am leaving the Health4Haiti magnetic logos on the doors for posterity).
Tomorrow I will get on the United flight bringing in our next group of 17 at 11:00 am and return to Chicago. Hopefully home Sunday.
More from there…