Just returned yesterday from Haiti. Most of the time we were in Gonaives. The country was very calm, surprisingly, with all the election uncertainty. We had originally planned this week (today) to be our follow-on main medical team trip for January, but had moved it to the last week of February on the advice of Roger and Fr Max earlier. Also, we made sure we left Haiti on the 15th (Saturday) rather than the 16th because that was the day scheduled for the runoff elections. On our return flight from Ft Lauderdale yesterday we learned that the run off elections had been post-ponded indefinately. Now I wake up and learn that Baby Doc Duvalier has returned to Haiti. What next!
We were only 4 people this trip (Shane Andersen from Denver, x-ray guru who installs x-rays with his father for a living, and who donated a good portion of the machine we shipped down there; Nick Nicholas from Pueblo, who owns A1 Electric and graciously offered to come bringing $1,000 worth of big wire and panels and breakers donated by Mike Blazer of Blazer Electric and install the 208 voltage hookup necessary; and Dave Draper from Colorado Springs, prosthetist who casted 5 peoples’ limbs and will make artificial hands and legs and return with us in February to fit them). Our main mission was to finish installation of 2 x-ray units at the hospital in Gonaives (one we shipped down there with Project CURE and the other one delivered there by the WHO but never hooked up.) The one from the WHO was vandalized and we still need one part for it, but it is all set up and is beautiful to behold. (pictures attached). The one we shipped is almost fully assembled, but awaits the completion of the lead-lined room around it, which a Haitian contractor drew out to our specifications while we were there, and so we should be able to finish operationalizing both machines when we take our main medical/surgical/cholera education/clinic finishing team down during the last week of February. In addition, Shane got the portable x-ray machine, EKG machine, and ultrasound machine that we also had shipped on our container all set-up and functional, and we taught their techs how to use them. Dr St. Giles, the hospital director, was very, very pleased, it seemed to us. I think this is the first time he really fully realized the magnitude of what we bring to his table, the potential impact we can have on improving his hospital’s infrastructure, and the depth and breadth of the help we can give him if he will just work with us more (you know, like answering my emails to him and letting us know what the situation is at the hospital before we get there and have to find out for ourselves – often too late to do anything about it – what is going on there.)
An interesting thing that Dr. St. Giles told us about the container was that it got there just in time before the cholera epidemic hit, and was full of all kinds of Project CURE’s medical supplies as well as the xray equipment on it and so just due to the timing (I’m sure God planned it this way, just as He seems to have for about everything we’ve undertaken down there) it saved some lives, he said. (Do you suppose He makes sure our containers are held up in customs until their time is right? Now there’s a different take on life’s little mysteries! 🙂 )
While there I linked up with the Cuban orthopedic surgeon and coordinated our trip for February with him. He showed me the x-ray of a woman with Perthe’s disease of the hip (degeneration of the head of the femur from lack of blood supply from childhood) which has left her with a shortened leg, scoliosis, and a bad limp. He wanted me to have Dr Ken Danylchuck – the orthopedic surgeon bringing his team with us –
try to bring an artificial hip with us to fix it. Dr St. Giles and he both assured me that Dr Ken will have plenty of patients to see who need orthopedic help!
I also asked Fr Max to call and find a 9 year old girl with a ventricular septal defect of her heart that PA Terry Henrie with the National Gaurd in South Dakota saw in Gonaives last September while doing a National Guard outreach mission at Eben-Ezer clinic. She needs surgery, and I think I was able to determine (with our local cardiologist Peter Lochow’s help over the cell-phone) that it has not gotten bad enough to injure her lungs and prevent her from being helped by surgery. I also got a DVD disc copy of an echo-cardiogram done on her in September in Port-au-Prince to send to Terry, because he wants to try to get a heart surgeon involved. (Maybe if he can’t we can find one around here that might).
We got to see the status of the completion of the construction of the medical clinic at Fr Max’s school, which he thought would be done by now. Unfortunately it isn’t, because of the cholera epidemic, etc, etc, etc, (you know, the typical life of a Haitian in Haiti these days!). So we coordinated with him to bring a plumber and an electrician and a carpenter down with us to finish it in February.
We will be taking the largest group down there in February that we have ever undertaken (27 and counting). Max+ re-assures us that this won’t be too many – in fact – he says he is going to put in more concrete outside and make an outside ‘dining area’ before we come. Lord help us all, but ain’t it fun?!
Hope this finds you all well. You know, we have a non-profit organization now, Health4haiti, so you might think of us when considering helping others with your charitable donations 🙂