Our medical mission is coming to an end. Tomorrow (Feb. 4) we are taking a plane that will fly us back to Florida.
Our team is pleased with the help we were able to give to many patients, especially the seriously injured patients who were airlifted to Pignon just before we arrived. Still we feel that so much more could be done. The Hopital de Bienfaisance has 2 great ORs and there is an abundance of medical supplies, including orthopedic equipment and medications.
We have information through the rumor mill in this small town of 40,000 inhabitants. Our understanding is that there are many people in Port au Prince in need of medical care, but relatively few have arrived in Pignon. Last week we were expecting an airlift with 17 injured patients; they never materialized. This week, the rumor has been that a helicopter will bring 27 patients, and the helicopter has not arrived yet. Only a few patients managed to come on their own with relatively minor problems (partial amputation of a great toe and other injuries becoming infected, closed fractures).
Last weekend, the director of the hospital had an emergency meeting with the medical team and the administrators of the hospital. What is the capacity of the hospital (normally a 100-bed facility), and where could we place additional patients?
The temporary decision was that the hospital was full, and large numbers of patients could not be treated. This meant that the Australian and Canadian orthopedic surgeons were flown elsewhere by the Rotary Club on Monday, and that our team will not be replaced when we leave on Thursday.
Dr. Fogarty, plastic surgeon and leader of our group, will stay for at least for one more week with Dr. Johnson, thoracic surgeon; Dr. Andrew, anesthesiologist; and Lucille Pierce, OR nurse. They will take care of the existing patients and will inform colleagues if new patients arrive so that volunteers could be sent accordingly.
I am leaving (Thursday) morning with the other members of our group: Dr. O’Malley, orthopedic surgeon; Dr. Nelms, ER physician; Alice Lorenze, and Lincoln Roth, nurse anesthetists.
We have become attached to our patients, like Nika, in the picture with Dr. Fogarty, Dr. Johnson, and two local OR nurses: Gabriel and Claudemi. We hope the best for them, and for Nika, that she will regain good function after healing from her partial foot amputations and will find a new home, as hers has been destroyed.
Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center