Prints available on request. Any donations should be made to ( to support their ongoing medical efforts in Haiti.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Hey again!

Alright, I know its been way too long since my last post, and probably most of you have given up on waiting for my next.  Luckily, my last class before spring break is tomorrow, so I should be able to keep up a much more regular schedule for the next few days, and maybe even have time to build up a backlog of posts so I can keep the pace up when school starts again.

Anyway, today I'm going to continue with my experiences working in the ICU of Port-au-Prince's main hospital.

Every day on arrival we would drive past a long line just inside the main gate.  This was the line for new patients to the hospital to go to the Japanese triage station.  Many of the different sections of the hospital were run by a single nationality group.  For example, triage was run by the Japanese, infant care was run by the Dutch, etc.  The ICU in which I worked contained a combination of American, Swiss, and Haitian personnel.  For those that don't know, triage is the process of accessing the severity of a patient's maladies in order to insure the patients who are most in need receive treatment first.

Here we see the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) in the background, and the Post Op tent in the left foreground.  The tent in the back is where I spent most of my time in Haiti, leaving our residence every day at daybreak and returning after darkness had fallen.  The unit was understaffed, and the staff was overworked.  In an intensive care unit in the United States one nurse would typically be responsible for two patients.  Here, in the emergency condition of Haiti, we would have five or six nurses most days, and all 24 beds would be nearly constantly occupied.  There were only two reasons we would have an empty bed: a patient was deemed healthy enough to be discharged, or a patient had lost their life.  Unfortunately, the later was more common than the former.  On these occasions, either happy or sad, the bed would not remain unoccupied for more than an hour or two; the number of those in need far outweighed the ability of the hospital to provide succor.  In addition to our lack of nurses, the ICU was also hurting for doctors.  All of the doctors who worked in the ICU also had responsibilities elsewhere in the hospital, forcing them to split their time.  Nevertheless, all of the staff was competent, committed, and hard working.

Here is our first view of the inside of the ICU.  I am going to leave this post at this and get into the inner workings of our tent in the next installment.