Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Project HOPE Volunteers Complete Work In Haiti

Saturday and Sunday (Arpil 18-19, 2009)

I had a fantastic weekend. Went ashore to the Killick MEDCAP (medical civic action program a.k.a. clinic) on Saturday. It’s located on the grounds of the Haitian Coast Guard station, near the center of Port-au-Prince, with a busy street just outside the gate. People were waiting 10-deep before we got there to open for the day. Twenty-five were allowed to come in at a time. From there, it was a very orderly process. They checked in at an admissions table, told a nurse their primary complaint (if they had more than one, they had to choose), and got a color-coded wristband. Then they went to the waiting room, and sat on folding chairs under large canopies on the lawn. There was a little bit of a breeze, and everyone looked comfortable. I visited the various sections – medical, dental, optometry – and checked out the lab and radiology. Today, two Hopies – Dr. Lynn Bemiller and Certified Nurse Midwife Practitioner Joan Cockerill – were assigned to the medical section, a large open room on the second floor of a training center. Lots of happy campers. The Haitian people have the best smiles!

On Sunday, most of us had an easy day on the ship while Navy personnel finished the retrograde – getting everything back on board in time to weigh anchor at 1630. The anchor pulled up a ton of concrete-like muck, so one of the RHIBs (rigged hull inflatable boat) had to be launched to go out and clean it off. We got underway before dinner. In the evening there was an ice cream social – hand-scooped! – and a “cinema at sea” on the flight deck – TAKEN was shown on the side of the helo hangar. It started raining about 20 minutes in. Everyone scrambled. Thirty minutes later it stopped and we all back out on the deck under the stars. They’re absolutely incredible out here!

On Monday, I went out on the bow and watched waves crash against the hull and spotted flying fish. They look like big hummingbirds. Suzie, Sarah and I got a tour of the bridge and each took a turn driving the ship. Later on, there was a strange abandon ship drill. I always thought the idea was to go to your assigned lifeboat for these drills. Instead they had us go to the flight deck. I learned the rationale is to do a headcount at the highest point on the ship while the boats are lowered. On Royal Carib passengers muster at their boat. I’m learning the Navy way….Later I went to a CME (continuing medical education) on infectious diseases. I have to say they’re far more interesting than CLE.

The Hopies are working the chow lines tomorrow. I’m on the morning shift. Have to report for duty at 0515, so I better hit the rack.

Thanks for reading--Tom.

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