Thursday, August 5, 2010

Volunteers Find Their Pace in Haiti

We entered the École Pierre Ridgway to find the medical operations already in full swing.

“Today is awesome. I really like this,” said Project HOPE team member Dr. Michael Polifka. “When it’s just about on the point of chaos, I really like it.”

Michael’s observation was accurate. Doctors around the courtyard conversed with patients through interpreters as more patients waited beneath an awning. Other personnel raced between rooms, ferrying medical supplies. Still more sailors and airmen crowded the sidelines, maintaining communication with the Iwo Jima.

As the day progressed, doctors both military and civilian found a pace to their work, and were able to work even more efficiently than they had yesterday.

HOPE doctor Manish Oza examined a patient with an alarmingly enlarged jaw. He deduced the problem was not dental, but probably a tissue infection which could be reversed with antibiotics.

Manish went on to detail the cases he’d already seen today. Unlike the jaw case, some had only required simple cures. Examples were irrigation for excessive earwax, Motrin for back pain, and Benadryl for allergies.

“You really get both faces of the spectrum,” Manish said, referring to the frequency of mild to severe cases at Med Site 2.

HOPE pediatrician Dr. Melissa Moore saw numerous adults and children with scabies. She said as a doctor she could prescribe promethrin creme for an immediate fix. However, the mites that cause scabies are best dispelled with proper hygiene methods, such as regular washing.

Team members worked constantly, grabbing a swallow of water or a bite of meal-ready-to-eat (MRE) in between patients. Breaks were often measured in seconds.

At the end of the day, Major Stroble announced we had assisted 488 patients and filled 642 prescriptions. We were exhausted, but jubilant to have helped so many.

Elsewhere, Stephen and Sam “The Cousins” Cascells had the opportunity to visit the Northwest Haitian Christian Mission in St. Louis du Nord. They spent the day playing with the deaf and mute children who reside there. The kids in turn taught them a fair amount of sign language.

“It was a great day. We kept playing soccer with the kids and translating (from French.) It was definitely the highlight of the trip so far.”

Story and photos by HOPE volunteer and PAO, Eric Campbell

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