Steep Hills, No Brakes, and 2 pregnant women in the back of our Toyota. Just another day in Haiti – Update 04/12/10

Posted: April 12, 2010 in Uncategorized

Things have been so crazy around here lately and I’ve had no internet access since my last blog.  It’s been a real trip the last few days and I will never forget what we did to save 2 pregnant women and their babies.  For today’s blog I’ll break everything down into segments since I will be ranting and raving in some and sharing some great stories in others.  Here goes nothing!!!

1.  Volunteer Medical Care In Haiti

I recieved an email today from a good friend who asked what the medical situation was like in Haiti and it made me start thinking about what is going on here.  He has a friend in the LA Times that wants to know from people on the ground.  This is what I sent him.

Today is the day that the government said that there would be no more healthcare and everyone must pay.  This is causing a huge problem with the foreign volunteers and the local hospitals.  The hospitals want the foreigners out because every time we treat a patient and do not charge the hospital is losing money.

The problem is that none of the haitian people can pay so rather than get the help they need they will just try and ride it out.  Many of the volunteers are trying to do mobile clinics but with so many of the medical supplies that have disappeared or the hospitals are not sharing the donations it creates a logistical nightmare.  I know that the hospitals are stating that the donations are being used to restock what they had before the earthquake and they feel entitled to it, but the truth is that they never had so many supplies before.  I know that there is allot of hoarding of supplies and hiding them so they can sell them to the patients.

It personally disgusts me to see this happening.  The people of Haiti need so much medical help and we have volunteers willing to treat them but we can not do it without the necessary supplies and equipment.  In the end, the hospitals make their money, the government gets their taxes, and as usual the people are the ones to suffer.  That’s where organizations like mine come in and are so critical.  We find the supplies the volunteers need and get them to them so they can do their work.

It’s very disheartening to see the lack of volunteers as well.  Today is 3 months post-earthquake and it seems that there are so few medical volunteers.  We need to setup mobile hospitals that we can treat those in need.  Rainy season is upon us and we are going to see mass cases of cholera, dysentary, typhoid and dengue fever.  Most of these have no treatment except for fluid replacement and we need to have locations in place so they can treat the sick.  Now, with all this being said, we run into another problem.  How will the government react to foreigners coming in to their country and giving away free medical care?  How will they get their piece of the pie?  My fear is that the Haitian government will put an end to any volunteers coming to help since they will be missing out on millions of dollars of taxable supplies and patient payments.

2.  Rains in Haiti

I just received word from a contact that was speaking with the Army today and we are going get hit with 6 inches of rain over the next 5 days.  Tuesday and Wednesday will be the worse days.  This should be interesting to see what happens on the political field here since I’m predicting that after this rain we will see rioting and turmoil here from the people in the tents.  The government hasn’t done a damn thing to clean this place up or even relocate people.  The tent cities are falling apart already and people have resorted to living on pallets to stay dry.  The problem is that a pallet is only 4 inches high which leaves 2 inches of water above that.  There is no sewage system here and everything is dumped into the street or canals lining the streets.  You guessed it, raw sewage and waste will be floating all around.  i’ve got to get this medical supply situation under control so we can respond to any disasters (i.e. mudslides, mass illness, dehydration, etc…)

3.  Our House

We found a house to rent yesterday.  It’s a great place in a safe neighborhood and we will be dry.  The best part is that they have electricity and water and we will be getting the internet in soon.  It’s $4,000 a month so if anyone is coming down here, or knows of any medical teams that need a place to stay please send them our way.  We have 5 bedrooms and some tents in the covered garage that we are renting out.  Transportation, meals and translators are provided.

The best part of this house is that we have a staging area where we can hold 25 pallets in a covered patio.  Now I can start stockpiling supplies when we find them and begin the distribution process like we planned.

4.  Resident Diva

Our resident diva Cory is leaving on Thursday and none of us are very happy about that.  Cory has been a ray of light in our otherwise crazy days.  She is such an amazing woman and she has been the voice of reason with all of our crazy antics.  She will be dearly missed but hopefully she will be back soon.

5.  No brakes, Steep hills and 2 pregnant women

This is where the good stuff comes into play.  Back home this story would be so outrageously unbelievable, but here, it’s just another day in Haiti baby.

Sunday afternoon we were waiting on a few realtors that were helping us find a house when we got a call that a pregnant woman in the mountains needed an immediate transfer to the University of Miami field hospital for an emergency C-Section.  I grabbed my trauma bag and we loaded up in the back of the truck.  En route to the mission where she was at we get another call that a second mom is in labor with twins and we need to get her there too.  Little Paul is driving up the mountain and all I’m thinking is “Dude this trip back is going to suck”.  We had potholes, construction, narrow winding roads, potholes, sheer drop offs, potholes, bad traffic, oh ya and more potholes.  The last thing we need is to hit a pothole with a woman in labor.  Paul said it best when he asked if they can just grab the umbilical cord to catch the kid as it flies out of the mom.

After about an hour we arrive to the mission and start IV’s in both mom’s.  Once again, so glad i brought the trauma bag.  If you look at the photos I’m posting you can see our handy work on make shift IV poles.  Yep, tape, a window, and a prayer.

We loaded up both mom’s, 2 nurses and a midwife (who had no right caller herself one) were in the back of the truck.  I was crammed behind the driver handing them med supplies, Ralph (translator) was in the passenger seat, and Little Paul behind the wheel.  This is where it get’s interesting.

We are pretty much driving down a mountain with a 10-20% grade and in some spots it was at 30%.  To imagine what this is like just think of driving downhill without using the gas and having to use the brakes to stay at 45 mph. By the time we reached the base of the hill the brakes were so hot they were useless and Paul was using the emergency brake to try and stop.  White smoke was billowing from our tires and it was just a hot mess.

We finally roll in to UM and they tell us we have to go somewhere else since they don’t have an OB/GYN.  YA RIGHT!!!  The resident diva was not having any of that.  All 5’4″ of her got up into the doctor’s face and she told them that they have a general surgeon who better start the C-sections and do it right.

One hour later we had 2 healthy mommies, and 3 screaming babies.

This is why I am so glad to be here.  We were the only hope these women had for surviving along with the babies.  One of the mom’s had a placenta previa, which was great because it was stopping the hemorrhaging and she was not bleeding out.  The other mom had a merconium baby and without medical attention the baby would have died.

Now for the photos…..

Now that things are back to normal I will be updating more frequently.  We are getting the internet installed this week so that will make life so much better.

Thanks again to everyone for all your prayers and comments.  I am so glad to be here and there is such a need to help the people in Haiti.  If you can help our team out financially please go to http://www.mmrc-us.org and make a donation through our site.  We are selling photos from here to raise money so please do what you can.

I love all of you so much and hope you are all safe.

Paul

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Comments
  1. Erika Scuderi says:

    Paul,

    I have just updated myself on your happenings in Haiti.I am so happy to hear about the impact that your team has been making. I am glad that there are photographs being taken because sometimes words do not say enough, and those photos of you placing an IV makes me so excited!

    It is good to see you speaking your mind on some of the issues out there and it really shows that you care a lot about what you are doing.

    I am upset that I did not get to hear the voicemail that you left me!

    Take care Paul. I miss you.

    Sincerely,

    Erika

  2. Sondra says:

    Keep up the great work. I’m really enjoying reading your blog!

  3. Cynthia Hammersley says:

    Paul: I have been reading your blog. I am very greatful to people like you who take action and use their skills to help others.

    I also wanted to share that one of your photos helped me win a 3rd place prize in the dream room competition. The room you did for Peg and Christine also won! Talented, smart and compassionate, Wow that is some package.

    Cynthia

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