I have been in Haiti for over a month now, working with Relief International. It was only a few days ago, while waiting for photocopies to be made, that I had time to reflect on the gravity of the situation here. While I waited at the “copy shop” I could only marvel at how quickly I adapted to the utter chaos and destruction around me. On the way to the shop I did not find it strange to have our driver maneuver around rubble piles, or pass by one collapsed building after another, observing people bathe in the street water or shovel through the rubble for goods and loved ones. I did not find it strange to skirt our way around a crushed vehicle parked in front of the crumbled shop, then watch the copy shop man power up a generator to run his single copy machine.
This realization also allowed me to reflect on what Relief International has been able to create amidst such chaos. The Relief International fixed clinic in Carrefour has been running smoothly and orderly since Jan. 20. Within the grounds of our clinic, one would hardly believe the chaos just beyond the property wall. Our patients are getting healthier by the day, and it’s now unusual to see a true emergency waiting at our gate at dawn. The same phenomenon occurs with our mobile clinics. We often are greeted by a few very sick patients when we first arrive at a new mobile clinic site. By the second visit at each site, chronic medical problems are the bulk of our patients’ medical issues. So, despite the chaos outside our walls, Relief International is doing its part to ensure that the population it serves is getting good and appropriate medical care. The impact within the communities we serve is undoubtedly obvious.
Relief International’s long-term goals in Haiti initially seemed overwhelmingly grand. However, we are getting closer to the goal of setting up five fixed clinics each day. Dr. Garzon returned to the U.S. and left big shoes for me to fill. However, he worked hard with Relief International staff to lay out the groundwork for Relief International’s long-term mission. Our clinic has seen more than 4,000 patients to date, and delivered one baby. Several national support staff have been hired, and Haitian medical providers will be hired this week. A large team of expatriate physicians, nurses, and paramedics joined our team to increase our mobile clinic capability, and to get our clinic programs and systems developed and running. Relief International is continuing to work with the Haitian Ministry of Health to open the four other fixed clinics.
Our team’s energy remains amazingly positive and is the reason we work so efficiently and well together. It is because of this Relief International team that we have been able to find any kind of order within such chaos. And, it was only after I stopped for a few minutes in the copy shop that I realized how successful our work here has been.
Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center
Sent from my iPhone