Monday, November 29, 2010

Life, Death, Education and Thanksgiving in Haiti

Team Saves More Lives, Witnesses Death and Provides Lifesaving Education

The ICDDR,B and Project HOPE team spent a long evening and into the night helping the local Haitian staff here in Milot care for the most critically ill cholera patients. Late in the evening the team was called to the cholera unit to help start an IV on a young child and they were successful. While there on the unit they did rounds on some of other critically ill patients only to realize an older gentleman had died due to cholera complications just prior to their arrival. Another patient while being rapidly rehydrated was diagnosed as having complications due to hypoglycemia. The team flew into action. Another American nurse volunteering here at Hôpital Sacre Coeur was able to find a glucometer to test the blood and indeed the patient was severely hypoglycemic. One of the nurses from the ICDDR.B team, Catherine Costa BSN, MPH, had thought to bring dextrose solution with her on the long journey from Bangladesh – a precious resource here in Haiti. She was able to infuse this life saving treatment and the patient is now doing well. One of the other patients the team intervened with was not so lucky and died early the following morning.

After this long evening of hands on care the team split into three groups. One group went a short distance to Cap Haitien to meet with the medical director there. Another group went to Hôpital Sacre Coeur to help with ten recent cholera admissions to the hospital. And yet another went to a nearby church to do a training session with several local schools.

The new admissions at the hospital included ten developmentally disabled children and one disabled adult from the Missionaries of the Poor orphanage and home in Cap Haitien. The Missionaries of the Poor is a Catholic organization that runs homes throughout the world for the poor and for orphaned disabled children, adults and the elderly. Brother Henry, one of the brothers from the Missionaries of the Poor who had accompanied the sick children from the orphanage was able to have a portion of the ICDDR,B team visit the orphanage to try to diagnose the source of the cholera outbreak. One of the critically ill children from the home who had been suffering from cholera related diarrhea for just three hours came into the cholera ward at the brink of death. IV lines were started and the life saving IV solution was pushed by force into the young girl’s IV line. She became pulse-less and was not breathing. Chest compressions were started but to no avail she was too far along in the cholera cycle and died there in the unit. An all too common outcome for the poorest of Haitians who lack quick access to much needed care.

The team responsible for the training of local school children had an audience of 170 students ranging in age from 4th grade to 11th grade. They were all looking sharp in their colorful Haitian school uniforms, a hallmark of Haitian school children. They were engaging and interested in the discussion. Of all of the audiences thus far the students, particularly the high school students, asked some insightful and touch questions. Reaching this audience is all too important as these children return home from school to share the messages about the prevention and treatment of cholera to their friends, families and communities. Spreading the word is an important piece of the overall cholera education plan the ICDDR,B came here to implement.

Photos and story submitted by HOPE volunteer, Carrie Alexander, a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and Johns Hopkins MPH student.

Rehab Building Continues to Progress as Volunteers Experience Thanksgiving in Haiti

The team got in later than usual today, and we didn't have much of a meal ready, so Ron White, Managing Director, The Humanitarian Network, broke out the freeze-dried backpacking stuff and it was a feast!

Everyone should spend at least one Thanksgiving helping others... Instead of Thanksgiving football, I got to play soccer in the parking lot with a few kids. No ball, but a water bottle instead. Sigh.

Buildings are coming along slower than we would like to see. Haitians do like to discuss every point, so it takes longer. When something isn't working quite right, they all have to throw in their ideas. It is kind of fun to watch. Enjoy these photos in and around the rehab building site on Thanksgiving Day.

Story and photos by Bonnie Hudlet, HOPE photographer.

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