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6129: Re: 6119: Re: 6091: Haiti News and Rumors! (fwd) report from site! (fwd)
Hopital Sainte Croix, Leogane
It is, of course, part and parcel of Haiti's bad press that the large
majority [are there any exceptions? I'm leaving room for benefit of the
doubt...] of American media reports are written in such a way as to validate
the perception of Haiti as "the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere."
So it was no surprise that the articles about the 11 American missionaries
injured in Haiti focused on the US COast Guard being the heroes of the story,
flying the victims out of [dangerous, dreadful] Haiti to good old US
In fact, our chief surgeon (Haitian doctor) told me that it was only
necessary to fly two patients out by air ambulance plane. All the other
patients were stable enough to fly out on American Airlines. But that
wouldn't have been nearly as dramatic, now would it?
No one mentions any of the heroic efforts that occured in Leogane to keep the
injured alive and to get them stable. No one mentions the 12 - 15 people who
worked 7 - 12 hours overtime (with no luxury of calling family members in
Port-au-Prince from Leogane) to triage the patients, perform the necessary
surgeries, do the stiches, X-ray for potential hidden damage, start IV's,
sterilize equipment, and all the maintenance/janitorial steps required. All
of those people were Haitians--surgeons, nurses, techs, and maintenance.
It was 1:30pm on a Friday afternoon when the phone in my house rang. It was a
doctor telling me that there had been a car accident involving American
missionaries and they needed my help in translating. The first person I met
with was the leader of the group (not seriously injured), to pray with him
and to assure him that the staff at Hopital Sainte Croix would do everything
they could to take care of the injured.
I did some translating and some reassuring. I assisted the Director of the
Hospital (also a Haitian) making phone calls--to the US Embassy and also
concerning air ambulances should that be necessary. I made efforts to make
those not seriously injured as comfortable as possible--toilets, chairs,
beverages, and then supper when the time came.
But the Haitian staff were the heroes in this story. It was chaotic in the
emergency room, with lots of observers crowding around the doors. It was
nearly quitting time, time for the bus to drive the doctors, nurses and
support staff back to Port-au-Prince. People had to hustle to get everything
set up again in the operating room, gathering necessary supplies, switching
quickly from the Friday afternoon mode of operation to a more urgent pace.
I didn't hear any complaints about having to work overtime, having to miss
plans already made for the evening. I didn't hear any arguments about who had
priority for surgery rooms, or why these nurses had to stay while the others
got to leave. I didn't see any non-cooperation between OR staff and central
supply. I saw doctors, nurses, and support staff working together very well,
accomplishing some major work.
The visiting Americans--those non-injured of only slightly injured but now
taken care of, and those being cared for in the operating room and recovery
room--were very impressed with what they saw, very relieved to be able to get
such quality care in such a remote area of Haiti.
It was 11:10pm when the last ambulance drove away with the last 2 patients
and our chief surgeon, Dr. Defay. (We had decided to send all the patients to
Port-au-Prince where they would be closer to the airport should anyone need
to be air-vacked out when the airport opened the next morning. I already
knew Dr. Defay would be seeing the patients again on Saturday morning to do
some more work at Canape Vert; he was very concerned about Damaris with the
head trauma and ear that had been torn off. I also knew Dr. Pelissier
(orthopaedic surgeon) would be operating on the woman with the arm fracture
at Canape Vert on Saturday.
In fact, Dr. Defay wanted to have X-rays done on Monday morning (staff not
available on weekend) before the two critical patients left, but his
professional preference was ignored and the patients were taken on Sunday.
Because once again, the Americans rushed in to save the day...