Sunday, October 25th and the entire Haiti Team has arrived. The group was greeted by Dr. John Judson at the airport. So good to see a familiar face!
The team members have come from many areas of the U.S. and are composed of surgeons, primary care, anesthesia, OR staff, lab support, nursing, medical students and ancillary help. The mission is to support and care for patients in the small hamlet of Pierre Payen, which is 60 miles north of Port Au Prince. They will work within the local system to assist and educate wherever possible and look forward to working with the Haitian doctors and nurses. The Op Med Team is happy to bring some specialty care that is not otherwise available here.
Day one is all about prepping and cleaning. Despite being used on a regular basis, the ORs and work rooms are in a sad state of repair. Equipment and materials are scattered everywhere with no apparent rhyme or reason – sad, but pretty typical. The A/C is not working in any of the rooms in the morning, and the temps are stifling.
The team immediately starts to meld and assemble, and within hours, there is order to the chaos. Over 30 bags stuffed with medical equipment are unpacked and organized. The equipment we will need immediately in the AM for both clinic work as well as the OR is identified and checked for working status. We have been advised of a list of patients that will arrived on Monday for clinic for care and procedures, and we plan to see patients in the clinic by 0800 and start surgeries by 0900. We will have hired 4-5 local interpreters to assist us in clinic, and stay with the patients through any procedures they are having.
The hospital provides a ‘guest house’ consisting of 5 bunk rooms for the team to set up their home away from home during our time here. A group of marvelous caretakers look after us and we are fed three meals a day.
Today is the Presidential Election Day, and there are 50 candidates running! The winner must have a majority of 51% of the votes. If there is not a clear winner, there will be a run off of the top 2 or three candidates in another few weeks. We have not seen any significant political issues to date, and we hope it stays that way. They allowed us into the polls to view the process which was very organized, with a huge amount of security (lots of rifles and shot guns visible). This morning the local polling location, a church, was in a holding pattern as the ballots had not been delivered. This will be fodder for candidates to claim unfair practices, which will no doubt lead to all sorts of issues downstream.
Wish us luck and a prayer.
Much thanks to Dr. Jeff Segil who sent us the news!