Thursday, April 8, 2010

Helping Patients at HAS and Beyond

Project HOPE’s physical therapist volunteer, Claude Hillel, along with Maryann and prosthetists Jay and Gil, went to Cange to provide prosthetic service for the amputated patients. Cange is a medical facility affiliated with Partners In Health (PIH) that was started by Dr. Paul Farmer some 20 plus years ago. It is located about a 2.5 hours’ drive north of Port-au-Prince and 2.5 hours east of Hôpital Albert Schweitzer (HAS). The team works with patients that were casted the previous week and are now being fitted with their new prosthesis. They also help make necessary adjustment and set a course of physical therapy.

New patients are also measured and casted, then the information is brought back to Hanger Clinic and the prosthesis are made for the coming Saturday. On occasion, patients are transferred to HAS for continued adjustment and more aggressive therapy.

While this team was at Cange, the remaining staff members stayed at Hanger Clinic to complete work on other prosthesis and paper work that is a nemesis for most of us. I spent most of my day at L'Escale, planning discharges and making sure patients and their families' needs are being met. I encouraged everyone to wear their prosthesis all day while doing their daily activities. I also stressed the importance for continuous use of "shrinkers" to avoid swelling and thus pain and inability to wear prosthesis while prosthetic is not being worn.

Patient F., the now famous 30-year-old ballerina that lost her right leg below the knee, finally came to have her prosthesis fitted and adjusted today. I am told that Ms. F. was one of the first patients that was measured and casted for a prosthesis, just about 2 months ago. She never returned for her prosthesis and no one was able to get in contact with her. Finally, she was contacted by a CMMB (Christian Medical Mission Board) worker name Diane. Diane informed me today that Ms. F. has been very depressed and has been having a very difficult time accepting the loss of her leg. Diane an amputee herself, gained the trust, confidence and friendship of Ms. F by calling and visiting and encouraging and supporting her. With this new found relationship, Diane was able to encourage Ms. F. to follow through with her fitting and to begin her therapy. Diane shared her story of losing her leg in a plane crash about 4 years ago with Ms. F. This has helped her to start accepting her situation. She is now ready to not only have her prosthesis but to wear it and begin physical therapy. After wearing her new leg, Ms. F. was actually very pleased with what she was experiencing, so much so that she wanted to take her leg home. We were not able to support her in this, as more adjustments needed to be made. She will return on Tuesday and at this time assessment fitting and therapy will be completed and Ms. F. will hopefully be able to return home to Port-au-Prince on Thursday.

The day ended with discussion for the opening of another dorm that will accommodate about 8 more patients each with one family member. We hope to get staff in place by the beginning of next week.

Thanks for reading-Project HOPE volunteer Joy Williams

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