A Gentle Whisper of Hope

Eighteen days post-earthquake and things still change daily around here. Spent the day out and about doing assessments.  We find it best to stay abreast of who’s doing what and where they are doing it.  It’s always good to know what our transfer and referral options are.  While the presentation of acute untreated injuries has slowed, we are beginning to see more and more medical illnesses.  It’s not surprising, given a large portion of the population is literally sleeping in the streets.  As we drive around Port au Prince we often have to manuever around small roadblocks built out of the rubble.  When night falls, the streets transform into open-air bedrooms and the blocks keep cars from driving over people as they sleep.

Despite the destruction, the Haitian people are picking up the pieces, literally and figuratively.  Markets are bustling, restaurants have reopened, and the streets are full of people going about their daily business.  Bulldozers have begun to chip away at the piles of bricks and concrete and the occasional ringing of hammers is heard.  There is an energetic feeling in the air, and dare I say it, even a gentle whisper of hope as the Haitian people begin to sort through what remains of their lives.

It is a transition time for the Relief International team as well.  Several members of our first team are back in the United States, and their replacements are en route.  We are beginning to see the fruits of our labor as our patients come back for wound checks and follow-up.  They are getting better!  Every fracture splinted, every wound infection prevented or eradicated, every dehydrated baby who perks up and starts breast-feeding again after IVF gives us cause for celebration.  Small victories, yes — but tremendously important ones, both to our patients and to the team.  Dr. Stephen Bretz’s patient said it best the other day.  She’d initially presented with a foot-threatening infection several days post-earthquake.  After careful treatment, the foot, and the patient, are thriving. “I wouldn’t have a foot if it weren’t for you,” she said.  As a medical provider, it doesn’t get much better than that.

And although many battles remain, I believe every time we win one, the Relief International team helps the Haitian people take another small halting step toward recovery.

Many steps remain, and the work is really just beginning.  We continue to feel tremendously well supported by everyone back home, especially the doctors and nurses and staff at our respective Kaiser Permanente facilities.  Without them, we couldn’t be here at all doing this incredibly important work.

And so we move forward into Phase 2 of our response–one brick, one step, one infected foot at a time.  Please keep the good thoughts and the donations coming!

Suzy Fitzgerald, MD
Med Team Leader
Relief International
EM Physician, Kaiser Permanente Diablo Service Area
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry


9 responses to “A Gentle Whisper of Hope

  1. Carl Bidleman

    Thank you for going to Haiti and offering such critical service and support to so many who need it. You are an inspiration.

  2. Araceli Orozco Barrera

    Hello Dr. Fitzgerald, I am writing to you from the Antioch Medical Center Emergency Department, I am one of the Registration Clerk’s and I just wanted to let you know, like many other’s have commented, how proud and honored we are to have doctors such as yourself. Your words of reality are eye opening and your words of hope are inspiring. Thank you.

  3. With tears and a smile, I read your astounding words and try to experience the events of your day. It is flabbergasting and unnerving to comprehend. I am reminded of a quote (Edward Hale)—“I am only one, but, still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something I can do”. You have made KP proud for doing everything you
    can do! Journey safely…

  4. Michelle Johnston

    Thank you for your good work and keeping your readers informed about your progress. I read your dispatches daily and am in awe of your commitment and work. Take care and stay safe. Michelle Johnston, Traverse City, Michigan

  5. Suzy: You brought quiet tears thinking about what you’re doing, and where. I’m proud to
    be your uncle.

    You are all magnificent. We love you.

  6. Mel & Adam Goodrich

    Snooze .. you are amazing!! Thank you for taking the time to keep us all in the loop .. Australia is a very very long way away from you, Haiti and the enormous need that you see daily. How quickly we all forget when Haiti is not first in the news broadcasts … As I type, I wonder what I can do, thinking cap is on!!, Thank you, miss you babe, Melx

  7. Jackie Aldridge

    So glad to hear that you are able to carry out your work. And glad to hear that the people in Haiti are recovering.

  8. Suzy, I read one of your dispatches at the combined Manager’s meeting broadcast to Pleasanton, Antioch and Mtz. It was a tough dialogue to get through. I think everyone felt your compassion and concern. We will truely celebrate your return. I wanted to ask about the name “Snooze” but that can wait until you return. We all miss you. Stay safe “Very Safe” : )

  9. Linda Martin RN

    Suzy- my heart is still in Haiti with the wonderful patients and the team I left behind. My first day back was quite emotional, reading the blogs to my husband I choked up several times. It was such a privilege to serve in Haiti and to work with such an outstanding group of people. This experience has forever changed my life. You have done an amazing job stepping in when needed to be our team med leader. Thank-you for making this an amazing experience for me and for helping so many Haitian’s in their time of need. May we meet up again some day. Love, Linda

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