After The Earthquake 2-26-2010

2/26/2010
Driving through downtown Port-au-Prince it is heartening to see small signs of improvement: men were collecting huge mounds of garbage in the street, ditches were being dug and cleared and people dressed in bright yellow USAID shirts were working busily to clear rubble. This traumatized city of crumbling buildings and tent cities is going back to normal. The markets are open and people stream through them selling vegetables, housewares, chickens. A new business appears to have sprung up to fit the growing need of people to construct tents: branches as big as a fist are being sold on street corners, and people are working to construct new homes throughout the tent cities. The new homes have a base of branches, sheets and tents are hung to make walls and a roof.

In the last update, the patients were out of the hospital and set up in the courtyard. It was difficult for our medical staff to keep up the high standard of care, but they persevered. A neonatal nurse even managed to give an ailing woman a blood transfusion, though it took hours longer than normal because of the heat.
After the second night outside, Father Rick was able to convince everyone to go back in. He explained that he was also living in the hospital and that he promised that he would not leave in an emergency situation until they were all out and safe. He explained that he had had tents set up outside the chapel, and that if there was an earthquake and they were evacuated they would go to those tents. Italian engineers had come that day to go over the hospital again. They knocked off some exterior cement and checked the strength of the beams. The hospital structure is sound. Hearing this, the patients believed him and believed in him, and went inside.
First prosthetics are here!
Yesterday at Kay Germaine, we had the great joy and pleasure of seeing a small miracle. Leel Ulysse, who is ten years old, had had her right foot amputated after the earthquake. Yesterday she was fitted with a prosthetic foot. The prosthetic was done by a team of Italian technicians who came down for the week and brought a container full of state-of-the-art equipment, all donated! They will leave tomorrow after a week here, but teams will continue to come, using the equipment they brought. They were able to fit ten kids with new prosthetics in the past two days!

Maternity and Neo-natal Ward
The unit has been calm the last few days because there haven't been any aftershocks. It is much better for the moms to be inside and we are so happy they are back inside. We have had 45 babies born on the unit since it started after the earthquake. Two healthy babies were born last night. A beautiful fat baby girl was born two days ago and the parents named her after Alison, our amazing neo-natal nurse. She will now be the godmother as well. Twins (both boys) were admitted tonight to the ward, one at 2.5 lbs the other at 1.5 lbs.
Daniela Greilich, Interim Home Correspondent, NPFS Haiti
Hospital
The hospital is estimated to be back to 90% pre-quake status. There are 130 admitted child patients, 100 daily outpatients and 30 daily ortho outpatients. All adult post-op patients are now out of the hospital with a handful in the adult post-up tent currently located outside the main door.
Since St. Damien's is now considered the Orthopedic Center of Haiti, patients continue to arrive for services such as amputation revisions, dressing changes, and physical therapy.
The Italian surgical tent has come to a close as surgeries are winding down a bit. They thankfully have left all their equipment and supplies for us including a EKG machine, complete surgery theater, ultrasound, etc. The Italian civil military will continue to stay with us and help for the next month. This week they built the structural support around the chapel and they are also helping St. Luke with food distributions. They continue to assist in patient support such as heli-vacing patients to their ship the Cavor for CAT scans.
The two OR's inside St Damien continue to operate. One OR is used exclusively for orthopedic surgeries and the other for general surgeries, which are performed by local pediatric surgeon Dr. Jeudy. Dr. Tom Green and his ortho surgical team from Seattle are leaving tomorrow after spending a full month where they have performed over 300 surgeries. (Photo is from today of femur fracture.)
After the 4.7 magnitude aftershocks Sunday and Monday, the hospital directors designed an organized evacuation plan. Each ward now has their assigned tent already set-up outside in case of another evacuation.
Tents have also been set-up in front of the St. Luke soccer field so that children and or adults that travel a distance for services have a place to rest after their dressing changes or revisions. Showers and bathrooms are also being completed.
Human Resources has hired a psychological support team to help employees cope with the mental health impact that they are facing.
Contributed by Monica Gery, NPH International