Team Leader Travis Jones sent the following update from Haiti on May 22:
Sue and I flew into the airport through thick grey clouds. Reneau, who had arrived on an earlier flight, watched thirty minutes of heavy rain shortly before our plane landed. Almost immediately the streets around the airport were flooded. During the rainy season, this is an almost daily occurrence in Tabarre and other parts of the city. Tabarre, the neighborhood where St. Luc Hospital is located, is surrounded by the rest of the Port-au-Prince, which is built along a large ring of mountains. When it rains in the mountains, the runoff floods the streets of Tabarre. We saw this first-hand on our second day, when the main road became a fast moving stream about a foot deep, despite clear skies and not a drop of rain above us.
With the rain come mosquitoes and one of the viruses they carry, called Chikungunya. It seems like every person we meet knows somebody who has encountered Chikungunya. Our first day at the hospital, we saw a number of patients with the common symptoms of fever, chills, headache, severe body aches and joint pain. We heard about a few cases of elderly patients who had serious complications.
As usual, everyone at St. Luc has been incredibly friendly and appreciative. Each day we’ve been working with the doctors and nurses on teamwork and communication, using medical scenarios. For this trip, we’re able to go over basic and advanced airway management. Sue and I dedicated an entire luggage case – we were allowed a total of four bags between us – to airway supplies and an airway training head. (Our three other bags were filled with toys for the orphanage here and our own supplies.) Nurses and doctors were given a chance to practice airway skills, in one-on-one sessions as well as group scenarios.
Lunch is usually a round table of impressive professionals who have committed a huge amount of their time and effort to helping St. Luke’s Hospital, another local hospital, the schools, or the orphanages. We seem to meet a new person or group every day: a critical care fellow from the University of Maryland who is developing a study for sepsis identification and treatment; the two Italian midwife students who are training at nearby St. Damian’s Pediatric Hospital; Ms. Peggy, who has been working here as a teacher for the past few years; a pediatrician from Ohio who organizes trips to the US for local children who need heart surgery. It’s amazing to hear each person’s experience in Haiti. Some people have been here for years, others for months or weeks. Their expertise and commitment is inspiring.