Friday, April 23, 2010

Making Room for More

As I arrived at L'Escale, I noticed that most of the patients were sitting out on their verandas. The girls were combing each other’s hair and or sitting around chatting, while the boys and some of the older ladies were playing cards or dominos. I went about the houses checking to see how everyone was getting along, and also assessing room availability.

There will be 15 new prosthesis candidates arriving in the morning from Port-au-Prince. I therefore need to determine how many of these new candidates can be accommodated with room and board. As of this morning there were three different organizations seeking housing for incoming patients; New Life Children's Home, an orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Catholic Medical Mission Board, our largest referral site to date within Port-au-Prince, and Bon Samaritan, yet another orphanage just outside of Port-au-Prince.

Of course we also have individuals that come to us for prosthesis by way of word a mouth. In unique situations, some of these individuals require lodging on the same evening of intake due to distance traveled.

One such candidate was a young woman with a left below the knee amputation. She and her companion arrived mid afternoon at the clinic seeking care. They were welcomed to the Hôpital Albert Schweitzer - Hanger clinic, registered and were given instructions about the process. On intake, patients have their stumps casted and evaluated by the physical therapist. After this process is completed they are then sent home, to return in one week for fitting, adjustments and more physical therapy. As the process was explained, both the candidate and her escort looked at each other and said something in Creole. Without even understanding what was being communicated, I knew exactly what was going on.

Traveling distance was making it impossible for them to return home on the same day. Both traveled approximately 10 hours by Tap Tap (taxi) and walking, to arrive at the clinic. Even if we expedited the process and everything went smoothly to have her discharged by 3 pm, it would still be too late to travel the return distance home. Accommodations had to be made at L'Escale for them, even though there was no available room.

In one house the residents were willing to downsize their space so that the candidate and her escort could spend the night. There was a glance, a smile and a sigh. All was well for now for this particular patient. There is a place to stay for the night, at no cost.

I found out later, that this patient was one of the January 12th earthquake victims found under the cement rubble of fallen buildings in Port-au-Prince 7 days after the earthquake. When she was found she was barely alive and survival was deemed very grim. Looking at her now, one would never know how close she came to death. Such resilience. Such strength. Such smiles and such hope. Life goes on. She is here now, ready to receive a prosthetic limb to move forward with her life.
Thanks for reading-Project HOPE volunteer Joy Williams

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1 comment:

  1. Hi Joy

    I hope I am sending this to you the correct way----I have been reading your blogs and oh what a wonderful job you and all the volunteers are doing----you are making such a positive difference in so many ways and touching so many lives. I am very proud of you!! I am planning to see you next week over a late lunch with our friend Diane -- can't wait to catch up!!!
    Your faithful friend--Kathy