As we enter Phase 2 of the disaster response, our Relief International team is undergoing a rapid transition. Most of the initial responders have headed home after putting in strenuous hours on the ground here during the first phase of response. New team members are joining our efforts daily, including Dr. Christine O’Brien, from Kaiser Permanente San Francisco, and Narelle Lange, RN, from Kaiser Permanente in Modesto.
In total, our Relief International team has evaluated and treated approximately 2,700 patients in our relief efforts thus far. While our patients’ physical wounds are nearly healed, it is now becoming apparent that their non-physical wounds are beginning to surface. A psychosocial aid worker that I recently met explained that since many Haitians now have their basic needs of food and shelter met, they are only now beginning to process the psychological trauma they have endured.
Over the past few weeks it was difficult to get our patients to even speak of the earthquake, a phenomenon that they had never before experienced, or for some, had never even heard of. Now it is not uncommon for a Haitian to want to tell their story. From our patients, to our national staff, to the woman down the street who lost 56 orphans in her orphanage, the people of Haiti are beginning to grieve.
Aside from actively listening to their stories and giving a hand to hold, our Relief International team is working to provide appropriate psychological support to our patients and staff. This, along with the complications of infectious disease processes from living on the streets, make for a long road ahead for the people of Haiti. However, I am optimistic that with their resilience, perseverance, and a bit of help from others, they will rebuild their home, reclaim their lives, and heal their inner selves.
Vivian Reyes, MD
Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center
Sent from my iPhone