‘How on Earth Will We Find Them In Time?’

We lost one yesterday.  A little 4-month-old girl named Jeanty.  We arrived at our third mobile clinic site at Tabanacle de Victoire to find her mother waiting patiently in the triage line with the little one in her arms.  Chronically ill at baseline with hydrocephalus with a VP shunt in place, she’d been acutely ill for several days with a cough, increased work of breathing, and diarrhea.  The blood in the urine had started yesterday.

Triage is primarily a visual process here in Haiti, and I put the baby in front.  We saw her first and transferred her almost immediately.  She looked sick but not toxic.  We were all incredibly shocked and saddened when the transfer team returned and told us she had died shortly after arrival at the referral hospital.

It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, losing a patient in such circumstances is devastating, especially one so young.  I can’t help but feel she never really had a chance in her life, from the moment she arrived four months ago for her brief stay in this world.

I will wonder for the rest of my life if things might have gone differently for little Jeanty had we been able to set up our mobile clinic at Tabanacle de Victoire a day earlier. We are trying to do everything we can here, but with limited resources and a finite number of providers we can’t be everywhere at once.  We have to start somewhere, and we can only hope we are finding those who need us the most, in time to make a difference.

Yesterday, that system failed.  As we start the day today, I wonder, who needs us the most today?  And how on earth will we find them in time?

Thank you again to Kaiser Permanente and all those who make it possible for us to do this work.  Please keep the aid coming.  The people of Haiti need all the help they can get.

Update from Suzy Fitzgerald MD, January 27, 2010


23 responses to “‘How on Earth Will We Find Them In Time?’

  1. Debra Cohen, MD

    Dear Suzy,

    I’m listening to Barack Obama’s state of the union. When I read your email, sitting here in my office in pediatrics, I sympathized so much with how you must be feeling. Thank goodness you’re there! You’ve already prevented so many small and large disasters. I hope to meet you soon. Thank you for helping so many Haitians, those who have already benefitted and those who you are going to see.

  2. Nancy Kursewicz

    Thank you so much for all you and the entire Kaiser team are doing. Please tell them all how proud we are of them. It swells my heart with pride to know that KP is out there on the front lines making such a big difference in these people’s lives. We are a great organization and you and your team prove that again and again.
    Thank you and God Bless and keep you safe.

  3. Please remember you are someone who is doing everything they can to help. I love you !!!

  4. Hi Suzy,
    I am honored to know you and all the help you are providing . Stay safe and please know you and all the others helping are in our prayers. God Bless each & everyone in Haiti.

  5. Dr. Fitzgerald, thank you for sharing this story. I sit here in my comfortable home in Oakland, CA. Tomorrow I will go to work, at our medical group, with wonderful, brilliant people, in a safe environment. I’ll bring my lunch — organic produce from the farmers’ market. What a stark reminder: you are in Haiti, providing care as best you can. You lose a four-month old who you think never really had a chance in this world. Why don’t we, here, realize how lucky we are? Take care, Dr. Fitzgerald. Your experiences there, and the work you do are more than inspiring. Thank you.

  6. Words fail me, I can’t really imagine either the pain you are witnessing, or the pain you are relieving. The needs you are meeting cannot erase the needs that you cannot. But just as there are many folk weeping now (including me), so too will there be many smiling faces on the horizon – faces that wouldn’t be smiling without your help today.
    Keep doing what you do. Love you.

  7. dr orna hananel

    suzie, don’t kick yourself in the foot! everything you are doing is superb! i know it always hurts when people and children die but you are leading a tremendous effort every single second and everyone here is very very proud of you! i told everyone that you don’t sleep at all!!! i don’t know how you do it! can’t wait to work with you again and am so sorry that my time was so limited! all the best, love love orna

  8. A big thanks from Kaiser Permanente Georgia.

    Thanks so much for the Kaiser Permanente team on the ground in Haita. I felt the pain in your blog. I’m so proud to work for such as great team and such a wonderful group of high-quality doctors.

  9. Cindy Kaufman, RN, CDE

    We are so very proud of you all. Even one death is sad, but try to think of all the lives you are saving on a daily basis.
    As an observer, I felt so much better when you all began to arrive in Haiti. Even one life saved is priceless.
    Cindy Kaufman, RN
    Kaiser, Santa Clara

  10. Scott Shattuck

    Dr. Fitzgerald,
    Thank you, thank you for your desire and commitment to help the people of Haiti! This is a tragic event and it is people like you and organizations like ours that know how important it is to help in times like these. It takes a special person and organization to make a commitment like you and we have. Just remember that the work you are doing is amazing and appreciated all over the world. Thank you, thank you!

  11. Alissa Abentroth, md

    Dear Suzy-
    Thank you for what you do. My heart is so heavy for the people of Haiti. I worked at Hospital Albert Schweitzer (40 miles from Port) as a surgery resident. I so wish I could be in Haiti now to help with this overwhelming disaster. I have a newborn and just back to work here in Northern Cali Kaiser so not able to come help at this time. But God willing hope to be there again in the near future to help the beautiful people of Haiti. Again, thank you for doing such special work. I feel the very sad for your pain, but just remember you are doing so much good and are soooooo appreciated.
    thank you
    alissa abentroth

  12. Dear Suzy, Thank you for taking the time to post during your time in Haiti. This one brought me to tears. My heart goes out to all the victims and rescue workers. Jeanty will remain in my thoughts for a long while.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you.
    Diane Olberg

  13. Suzy, Bravos to you and your team. We’re impressed, but not surprised with your devotion to the people of Haiti, as well as the medical profession.

    Keep up the good work. I love you.

    Uncle Bob and Olga

  14. Lois Wills, Receptionist, Kaiser Fremont ER

    Please know how much all of us back home appreciate those of you who are doing their very best to help all the people affected by this terrible tragedy. Understandably you feel for this young child and any others you might not reach “in time”, however, please remember God is watching and you are making a difference in MANY, MANY lives. Many children WILL be able to smile and laugh again one day due to the efforts of people like you. God bless and be with all of you.

  15. Karl Sonkin, Media Relns

    Dr. Fitzgerald:
    Thank you for your dedication, your exquisitely written post, and for being a Kaiser Permanente physician.

  16. Suzy,

    We all have ways of helping, but your help and the help of your colleagues is direct, immediate, and desperately needed. You know that more than most. We cannot reach everyone — and that knowledge causes some people to withdraw and not reach any — but each person you help in a small or large way brings relief to some measure of suffering. Thank you, and your KP colleagues, for all that you are doing. Know that you are there with the love and support of many.

    Much love,

    Cousin Mary

  17. Suzy:

    Thank you for all the good you are doing.

    Rose Rose

  18. Suzy, Thanks you for giving us a glimpse of what you are feeling and doing. It brought tears to our eyes . We want to thank all of you and your team for your selflessness and for taking the time to care and giving the people of Haiti the chance to ” thrive” love and miss you..from your Kaiser Walnut Creek family………James Rogers/Mylene Z /Minoo Nouri/Hazel

  19. Cynthia Cowger

    Dr. Fitzgerald – The world needs more or you – thank you for caring and being the selfless person that you are. We here at Kaiser thrive because of doctors like you. Have a safe journey home – how lucky for us that the DSA is your home!

  20. Lorca Rossman

    thank you for being there and for bringing a little of your experience to us. Much love from our family – Lorca, Steph, Sage

  21. Fitz, mourn the loss but please don’t beat yourself up over what would be a very difficult case in the best of circumstances. You are clearly fighting the good fight and from all descriptions I have been reading your team sounds like it has one of the most functional set-ups there.

    Welling up with pride at your dedication.

  22. Dear Suzy, thank you so much for your hard work, tears, love and care you have shown not only the Haitians, but the Kaiser Permanente family we are so proud to be part of and like me, are sitting in our safe, fully stocked clinics, and being able to go home and enjoy our families, and drink water and eat without a care.
    It is very humbling to read how much is working against the Haitian people and all who are trying to help them.

    I am sure your frustration level at the lack of medical supplies and help is something that can never be put into words. Bless you for making a difference with everything you do.

    Please remember that we are rooting for all the medical teams who are bringing hope to the hopeless in Haiti. There will be special crowns in Heaven for all of you.

    When I go home tonight I will get to experience the sweet smile of my 7 month old grand daughter Sarah, and when I kiss her, I will think of the 4 month old baby girl who also brought joy to her mother in her short life.

    Humbled in Fremont Kaiser Permanente,

    Suzy Green, MA
    IVF Clinic
    Fremont, CA Kaiser

  23. Glenda Dixon, LPN

    Just wanted you to know that you are someone special & making a difference . Without people like you, the people of Haiti would have nothing to hold on to. God will reward you & has sent you there for the mission he has for you. Keep up the good work & caring. Always put God first. He will guide you where he wants you. I only wish that I could be there rendering aid as well.
    Many thoughs & prayers will be with you.

    Glenda Dixon
    Ambulatory Care
    Tucker, GA Kaiser

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