A six day whirlwind… Haiti Update – 04/28/10

Posted: April 28, 2010 in Uncategorized

Hello everyone.  I’ve decided that I need a personal assistant to sit by my side and nag me about updating my blog on a daily basis.  The last six days have been somewhat crazy, but hey it wouldn’t be Haiti unless everything was nuts.

The Baby Factory, Part II

I didn’t get a chance to really describe what the baby factory looked like in my last blog.  Imagine if you were to mash up, One flew over the CUCKOO’S NEST, SAW, HOSTILE, and I-ROBOT.  It was absolutely mind-blowing.  Imagine this if you can.  You’re in an ambulance and you pull up to an iron gate and the first thing is see is a sea of 150-200 pregnant women staging outside waiting to get in.  Since we had never been there before I figured that all the big bellies was a sign that we were in the right place.  Some of them were in labor and some of them had the cure little basketball bellies and were going there for a pre-natal checkup.

Ok, so back to the story.  We rolled up and security slides open the gate and lets us in and that’s when it got really interesting.  I hop out of the truck to find a nurse and there’s even more pregnant woman waiting to get into the hospital.  I swear it felt like I was in line trying to get into a rock concert.  4 entry points, long lines, and women all over the place hooting and hollering.  There are women in line, sitting on the floor, sitting against the perimeter wall, sitting on the stairs, walking in the courtyards.  Oh ya, AND THEY ARE ALL PREGNANT!!!!!  So I find a nurse.  A wonderful Haitian nurse, who speaks no English and no Spanish.  I start to make had signals and she just laughs at me.  Granted I’ve lost weight but my belly challenges some of the women in the factory.She takes me by the hand and escorts me to another nurse.  We can’t communicate but she understands that a large white man, wearing gloves and directing an ambulance is a good sign that we have a pregnant woman on board.

We walk by the rig, past about 15 women, and into another part of the hospital.  Guess what, more pregnant women.  They are sitting in rows of chairs and walking in the hallways.  I pass through one hallway and I see about 6 women on their hands and knees doing the “whoop whoop” call that is so prominent during labor here.

So the nurse gets me to the L&D section of the hospital and hands me off to a nurse who speaks very little spanish.  So here I am, trying to explain the situation in spanish while doing all of the hand motions I can think of to describe what’s going on.  Meanwhile, my transporter has unloaded momma from the rig and there are 3 people lifting the gurney up the stairs.  At this point I lose all sense of reality and submit myself to the baby factory.  I’m watching the transporters move the patient, I’ve got pregnant women surrounding me, a Haitian nurse giggling at me, and I have no way of communicating.

We make it back to the OR rooms and an OB/GYN doctor comes up to me.  I’m thinking to myself, “Oh crap, here we go again.”  He looks at me and says “Hey man, how’s it going?”  HALLELUJAH!!!!!  He speaks English and he’s the surgeon.  I give him a quick report and as I’m doing so I’ looking around and notice that I’m in the thick of the baby factory now.  There’s a row of cubicles with pony walls.  They’re about 4 ft wide and 6 feet deep.  Each of them has a bed, a midwife/nurse, a metal bucket, and a naked woman either crowning or just wrapping up her delivery.  I turn to talk to the doc and I see pretty much the same thing in the OR.  A bed, stirrups, a doctor, a metal bucket, and a naked woman having a baby.  The “whoop whoop’s” are on overdrive and babies are popping out everywhere.

So, I give him report, the transporter brings in the patient, the baby factory staff takes her straight to surgery, and we wipe down the gurney.  Normally we would ask if anyone needs anything and how they are on supplies, but at this point we are so in shock all we can say is, “Thanks man, call if you need anything.” and we roll out.

Like I stated,  I was in total shock with what I was seeing, but amidst all of that I did notice a few things.  First, it was very clean.  Cleaner than most hospitals I’ve seen around here.  Second, it was an organized chaos.  The baby factory has been around forever and is open 24/7.  They’ve got delivering babies down to a tee.  Finally, I noticed that all of the women were being checked on frequently.  In the entire scope of things, this is the true definition of an organized chaos.  My hat goes off to the Haitian staff that runs the place.

The Last 5 Days

The last 5 days has been nuts.  Yesterday out team did 5 medical transfers.  I think the best way to keep everyone straight is to get a quick bio on each patient.

Bi-Latteral AKA (Above the knee amputation) Man:  4 days ago, Handicap International (a big NGO), calls us (A miniscule NGO) to transfer a 50 y/o male who has been a paraplegic for the last 20 years, to Medishare because he has what appears to be either subQ Anthrax or dry gangrene on his legs.  His knees have locked up and he can not sit in a wheelchair.  He has a Supra-Pubic catheter and has been peeing blood for a week now. He lives in a tent city and Handicap International has no way to get him to the hospital.

Burn Baby #1:  3 days ago the General called and we had to do an emergency transfer of a 5 month old baby to Medishare.  Their tent caught on fire, mom ran out, and the neighbor brought the baby in.  He had 2nd and 3rd degree burns on 20% of his body and when we walked into the General I saw Emilia, The ER Peds doc, putting a central line into the little guy.  We loaded him up in the rig and another Peds doc came with us.  The little guy was great during the transfer except for the instance in which he decided to pee all over the place.  For being such a tine little guy he had some huge kidneys.  I don’t think I’ve even peed that much since I’ve been here.  We got him to the PICU at Medishare and they took over for us.

Stab Girl:  Yesterday, a modified Jeep comes in from the mountains with a nurse and a Haitian woman who has been stabbed in her right flank.  The ER at the General can’t take her so we have to transfer her to Medishare.

Meningitis Boy:  6 y/o old boy with meningitis, on a ventilator and needs to go to the PICU

Femur Fracture Man:  This guy was in a car accident and had an open Femur fracture.  he had to be transferred from Medishare to the Ortho teams at Adventist.

Burn Baby #2:  Pretty much the same as burn bay #1 but 30% burns.  Needs to go from Adventist to the MSF burn center on Delmas 33.

Ok, so now that we have all of the patients down, here’s what happened yesterday.

Lauren calls me and tells me that Bi-latteral AKA man has to go from Medishare to Adventist.  From Adventist I need to take Burn Baby #2 to the Burn center on Delmas 33.  As I’m trying to convince the hospital administration to let me use and ambulance to transfer someone who is not their patient Stab Girl comes in.  This is my window of opportunity to get the rig out of the hospital and get the transfers done.  We stabilize Stab Girl, load her up and shoot out to Medishare.  Traffic is so horrible that I grab Nick, a nurse, to watch Stab girl while I run the siren.  What would normally take 90 minutes to drive, only took 20.  I absolutely love the fact that everyone gets out of your way.

En route, Lauren calls me and cancels AKA man.  Now all we have to do is take burn baby #2 from Adventist to Delmas 33.  Right after I hang up with her, I roll up on this beat up little Toyota with some white people in it.  Oh wait, that’s Lauren, Heather and Mike and LP is driving.  We roll past them, LP tags along behind us and off we go again.

We get to Medishare, and the General calls back.  Meningitis boy is crumping and we need to get him to Medishare immediately.  The driver is great.  he’s driving like a bat out of hell, I’m on the horns and sirens, Nick is strapped in the back and we get back to hospital in under 15 minutes.  Granted my kidneys are shot and I may just end up peeing blood later, but hey, we got there quickly.

We load up Meningitis boy, grab a respiratory therapist, load the boys mom in the rig and off we go again.  Sirens whaling, horns blowing, a crazy ass driver who is somehow avoiding all potholes and getting side swiped or T-Boned.  We get to Medishare and the boy goes straight to the PICU.  During this whole event, Lauren calls me and tells me that she has already transferred Femur Fracture man to Adventist and is now going with 2 Peds docs, in a car, with burn baby.

Now it’s time to head back to the General, I’m tired, Nick needs to get back, the Resp Therapist with us has family visiting at the hospital (she’s Haitian but lives in the US), and i hate traffic here.  We go code 3, clear out traffic and got back in no time flat.

By now it’s 7 pm, LP has picked me up from the General, dropped me off at the Plaza, he’s gone to go get Lauren from Medishare, and I’m about to check my email when the General calls and we have a 16y/o in labor.  She’s 7mos and needs to get to the Baby Factory ASAP.  So I pack up the computer, hitch a ride to the General, finally find the driver, load up momma, haul ass to the Baby Factory, drop momma off and back to the hospital.

We swing by the plaza, pick up Lauren, head home, dinner consists of a can of Spaghetti-O’s and some water, a cold shower and off to bed.

The truth is that things are so hectic around here and we have been working so much that it’s been a blur.  We’re doing everything we can to provide care to the patients and supplies to the orphanages and medical teams.  Which reminds me.  Lauren and Tamara got 5 pallets of powdered milk for the orphanages so LP had the joy of driving all of the place for the last 2 days loading up the milk and then delivering the milk.  Our little truck can only do so much so LP has to make a bunch of trips.  So thanks to LP, Lauren, and Tamara we have quite a few happy orphans.

Ok, everyone I love you very much but have to get off now.  I will be spending the rest of today contacting people/groups for money.  We are still struggling terribly and our efforts are not going as well as planned.  Please pray for us and even more importantly send us money.  You can do that through the website.  HTTP://WWW.MMRC-US.ORG

Be safe and be good.


  1. HEY BP!!



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