3 crazy days. Supply runs, patient transfers, and a love affair with saline. Haiti update – 05/07/10

Posted: May 8, 2010 in Uncategorized

Man I really hate when I don’t update on a daily basis, but we have been running so busy the last few days that this is the first time I am able to get on a computer and type.  Keep in mind I have 45 minutes to do everything since we are doing a transfer from UM to the Medivac flight.  It turns out we have a volunteer we need to get out of here by 10:30.  So with that said please forgive all mispeslliingss, (hehe, jk), typos and poor grammar.

Like I said it has been nuts.  We found this amazing place called the Mission of Hope.  they are right on the coast about 45 minutes from here.  I was told about this place by Rob Montana.  He left yesterday and was working with IMC for quite some time.  Rob, if you are reading this I hope you made it home safe and enjoyed that big Mexican meal you spoke of.  I’m glad I had the chance to work with you and thank you for teaching me so much.  Like I said, Rob told me about this place and gave me the phone number of a gentleman named Grant.  I spoke with him briefly, explained what MMRC does and told him what I needed.  Grant then tells me that they have a warehouse full of medical supplies that they need to move out and get to the people that need it most.  That is music to my ears.  I talked with LP and we put together a plan on how to get out there and get the goods that people need right away.

Now keep in mind when people say they have a warehouse full of supplies it often turns into maybe a pallet or two. But oh no, not here.  I felt like a kid in a candy shop.  A very hot and humid candy shop full of supplies that often inflict more pain than most people can stand but in the end they make you healthy, but a candy store non the less.  i was so excited.  They had gowns, saline, tubing, nasal trumpets, drugs (not for me of course), instruments.  the list goes on and on.  And they have so much great stuff that everyone needs.

Sorry, got distracted.  So Grant shows us around the place and then takes up to heaven (the warehouse on the hill).  I met his wife there, and I feel like a butt head for forgetting her name.  She is adorably sweet and was so helpful.  As I was going through all of the pallets I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.  All the while, I kept ooowing and aaawing and everyone kept giggling at me.  I was grabbing everything I could get my hands on that I knew we could move out really fast.  And then I saw the holy grail.  It had a light radiating from it, down on it, and all around it.  It beckoned me.  It seduced me.  It tempted me and I gave in.  It was 5 really friggin huge boxes of saline.  Saline was everywhere.  Big bags, little bags, bags in English, some in French, and I think I saw some in Korean.  I had to take a moment to compose myself.  I grabbed a bag and held it like a little baby.  It was the most beautiful thing in the world and all I wanted to do was take it home with me, stick a needle in it and drain it dry.  I was such a proud poppa, I took it, threw it in a box and hauled it to the truck.

We loaded up the truck and hauled butt out of there to our first drop point, IMC and PIH at the General.  When we rolled in we were hot and tired and then we see Dave Holmes.  This guy is great.  He’s from England but lives in Australia.  His accent is perfect for the job here and he always has a smile on his face.  I think I may have even seen a twinkle in his eyes when he saw the saline.  We dumped all of the fluids on them and even though I was sweaty and nasty a lot of the nurses gave me huge hugs.  I was even referred to as Santa Clause.  I love doing this part of my job here.  Just to see the relief on so many peoples faces when they know that they now have what they need to treat their patients and that they don’t have to ration out supplies is all I need to keep doing what I have come here to do.

We pretty much dumped everything off to them, but I kept a few things that I am taking to another NGO we are working with tomorrow.  It’s the good stuff.  Drugs and you got it, more saline.  I even have a few needle drivers and some surgical tools they desperately need.

So that was pretty much yesterday.  Now let’s talk about the day before that.

Wednesday.  What a day.  It started off with a very early transfer of 2 patients to the MSF France burn center.  I don’t know what happened to these two women, but they were burned pretty bad.  I got the ambulance and loaded them up.  Overall the trip went smooth minus the idiotic ambulance driver who thinks he is playing Grand Theft Auto.  I have to continually remind him that these people are in pain and if he doesn’t slow down and watch the bumps in the road I will glass jaw him.  We got the girls there and then headed back to the General to pick up Tetanus Man.  This poor guy was suffering from Tetanus and had to go to MSF Spain, which is on the way to Carefour.  The roads are horrible and bumpy and once again the driver feels the need to drive 50 mph on a road I wouldn’t do 15 on.  the poor doctor, Lindsey, is in the back and I think she is about to puke.  She’s doing a great job of keeping an eye on the patient and making sure nothing goes wrong.  We got there in one piece, amazingly, and met with the doctors.  They gave us a wish list of their needs, which we are partially filling tomorrow, and we took off.

After those transfers, we picked up some of the teams that could leave the hospital and took them to our compound.  It was nice to hang out and chill and we were looking forward to a relaxing afternoon swapping stories.  Like I’ve said before, nothing is what it seems here.  After about 45 minutes I got a call from the General that we had a 62 year old volunteer from Georgia who had an MI and needed to get flown out to the USA.  He was actively having a heart attack and it just turns out that we had the only Cardiologist with us.  We jumped in the truck and headed over to get him in the ambulance.  En route I get a call from Rob that Mike Hague was transporting the patient with Kelly Suter.  I tried to get them to wait since we were 2 minutes out but the patient was having an active MI.  Knowing the route they take I told LP to make the next right turn and head them off at the intersection.  LP cranks the wheel and floors it.  I call Mike to tell them what we are doing and all of sudden we hear the sirens off in the distance.  LP speeds up and parks the truck right in the intersection.  I got out and saw the rig turn towards us so i started waving it down.  Mike’s in the front kind of looking at me like “What the hell is he doing”, the ambulance stops, Steffen jumps out of our truck and into the rig and off they go again.  They got the guy to the UM without any complications but I found out later that the driver was so bad that poor little Kelly barfed into the trash can on the rig.  Now, I’ve worked with Kelly several times and she is not only a sweetheart, but pretty tough too.  I’m pretty sure she could kick my butt if I got out of line.  For her to “call some dinosaurs” the ride had to be rough. She wiped it off and went back to work.

After we did the whole, “get the doctor into the moving ambulance” show, we dropped the nurses off and went into the ER to see how everyone was doing.  When I first walked in I saw another 10-12 month baby that was severely dehydrated, had a bowel obstruction, and a fever.  All I could think of was the little girl that died earlier.  When I heard the docs saying that they were going to put an IO needle in and rapidly rehydrate her so we could get her ready for transport, I could see all of the events happening again.  I called over to the UM and talked with the CNO Jen.  Jen is such an incredible woman.  She takes amazing care of me and let’s me transfer all of my patients to her.  She also hooks me up with some kick ass supplies when she can.  I love this girl.  Anyway, I call Jen and explain the situation.  She gives us the green light, we get the driver, load up the kid and get her over there.  I’m not saying that the staff at the General are incapable of doing their jobs, it’s just that they don’t have all of the equipment that the UM has.  I just didn’t want to have a repeat of everything that happened a few days ago.

SO we got the girl over there.  LP actually did this transfer because I was tired and I thought he would enjoy it.  It turns out that when they got to the UM, they had to take a patient from there to the baby factory.  The women had an ectopic pregnancy and there were no OB/GYN’s there.  LP got her over there without any problems and made it back safely.  Upon his arrival, we got in the truck and almost made it out the gate when the UM calls and they need 2 units of O positive ASAP.  I jumped out of the back, ran to the lab, called the ambulance driver, got the blood and we hauled butt out of there.  And then it started to rain.  This rain was ridiculous.  Visibility was shot, the roads were flooding, the trash was flowing, and the smell was pungent.  We got the blood over there right away and on the way home I heard something that was beautiful and frustrating.  The Argentina-Haiti soccer game was on but i couldn’t understand a damn thing.  Do you know how hard it is to try and root for your home team and not know what the crap is going on.  Anyway, I got dropped off at the Plaza, hung out with some of the staff, went home and passed out due to exhaustion.

Well everyone, I have to run.  I heard from pigpen and I think she is losing her mind.  We are trying to get up there and help her out with a supply run so we will see how soon we can do that.  I love you all so much.  Jeanne, it was great to talk to you the other day.  Get your butt out here and let’s get some work done girl.  Cory, you need to get out here because LP is looking emaciated and he’s stooped to stealing chicken from me.  Plus, we really need you back here because the Diva taunting is oh so entertaining.  Linda, THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING YOU DO FOR US!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I love you guys.  Be good, be safe and please send money.

Much love

Big Paul

  1. TDub says:

    Oh Soooo Sexy Saline!

  2. kelly leavitt says:

    Hi Paul,

    I just have to say, THANK YOU FOR DOING WHAT WE ALL WISH WE COULD BE DOING. I wanted to share this video from CNN speaking with Sean Penn about a death caused by diphtheria, and the utter preventability of it. His emotional response mirrors much of what you all are experiencing, and I’m so grateful you’re sharing your experience with us. We all need to be keeping Haiti in the forefront of people’s minds – I myself have witnessed (to my horror) how easy it has been for fellow Americans to shrug it off as “something that happened a few months ago.” Keep the word going, keep yourself going, and stay well. Peace, Kelly


  3. I don’t mind at all that you forgot my name. You were totally like a kid in a candy store and it was a joy to watch. So great to hear where all the supplies went and that got into hands that needed them. Keep up the great work and I’m sure I’ll see you again! Sandy.

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