Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Providing Immediate Care and Building for the Future

Cholera Experts Visit HOPE Volunteers

After several days on the road the ICDDR,B Project HOPE team flew out of Cap Haitien on the Northern coast of Haiti back to Port Au Prince only to turn right around and make the trip by car into the Artibonite Valley where cholera first appeared in Haiti. The first stop on their trip was to Hôpital Albert Schweitzer (HAS), a long-standing partner of Project HOPE’s since the January earthquake.

Since the earthquake Project HOPE has supplied volunteer doctors, nurses and physical therapists to HAS to support the Haitian staff there. In the wake of the earthquake and now with the cholera epidemic, like many other hospitals in Haiti, HAS has seen their census rise requiring an augmentation of staff. The team was met by nurse Jill Caporiccio, a long-term HOPE volunteer now working at HAS from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Mrs. LeGrand Mellon and other staff. The team spent the day touring the facilities at HAS and assessing their cholera ward. In contrast to some of the other sites visited by the team the cholera ward at HAS was well staffed, seemed to have a good supply of required cholera related items due to a recent resupply by Project HOPE, and seemed to have good systems in place to handle their cholera census. The ICDDR,B team was able to collect some cholera samples, which will be added to the cholera samples they procured at other sites and will be sent back to the national lab in Port Au Prince for culture and sensitivity.

While at HAS it was suggested by local staff that the team go a short distance down the road to the town of Verettes where there is another cholera treatment center (CTC) being run by International Medical Corps (IMC). There the team was able to collect more samples to add to their database of samples to go to the national lab. While at the IMC CTC the ICDDR,B team nurses were able to do some bedside hands-on training for the nurses on the ward imparting important information about the appropriate triage and treatment of the most fragile of cholera patients. The team has found this mode of training, the hands on at the bedside approach, is the most powerful of training tools. One they hope to help replicate at numerous levels in Haiti both at the institutional level and at the academic level having it added to nursing and medical curriculum.

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

Construction of Rehab Buildings Brings Work, Comfort and HOPE

While reports of post-election frustrations and violence fill the news, Project HOPE continues to build a Rehabilitation Center in southern Haiti. U.S. volunteers are training Haitians to construct the modular buildings to help build local skills and capacity and provide needed income as the buildings go up. Local residents gather daily to see the walls rise on the three buildings that will provide needed rehabilitation services over the coming months and years.

Eddy, 33, and a construction trainee, says this is the first time he has worked with prefabricated, foam core materials. He appreciates the opportunity to develop new skills. "I love it. I want to put all my strength into learning this new approach to building."

He adds, "Even though I was not physically harmed in the earthquake, I was harmed emotionally. Now when I walk into a building I automatically go to the corner. I like the idea of this type of building because I feel safe." He also points out that when the people stay at the Center in short-term housing while being fitted for prosthetics, they will feel safe and not be afraid of another collapse.

This fear of concrete structures, and a need for rapid construction, prompted HOPE to choose the modular design for the Rehab Center which will include a clinic, a dormitory building for patients and a housing building for volunteers.

Near the Rehab Center is a camp of people living in tents. One million people lost their homes in the earthquake. The camp school is run by a teacher who is an amputee. The school has no table for children to do their work; instead they lean on seat chairs to write their lessons. Mike, the lead builder, made a table for the school. The kids and moms cheered when he was finished. Now they have a place to do their school work– and to eat their lunch.

Report and photos by Bonnie Hudlet, HOPE photographer.

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