Tag Archives: RN

A Kaiser Permanente RN Reflects: ‘The Eyes Tell So Much More’

It has been about three weeks since returning from Haiti and I think I have finally started settling into my “normal” life here.  I decided to write about what Haiti was like from a nurse’s perspective.

The devastation was overwhelming. Everywhere I looked there were buildings crumbled, people standing on broken roads, and women standing in lines that went on for miles, waiting to be distributed a simple bag of rice. I spent my time in Carrefour with Relief International and slept in a tent amidst the mosquitoes, heat, rain, and roosters who had no internal clock and crowed all night.

As a RN, I was fortunate to see every patient who waited for hours to be seen. During our triage time, I was able to speak with them and not only get their chief complaints, but also hear about what happened and where they were during the earthquake. Everyone I came upon had lost someone close to them. Most were still sleeping in the streets because either their house was demolished or they were too afraid to enter because of the fear of another quake hitting. The poverty was overwhelming and malnourished children were the norm.

I was lucky to be able to spend my time there with my friend and fellow Emergency Department colleague Deb Lyon. Together we assisted in training Haitian nurses to take over the clinic as we left. The doctors were wonderful and came with all areas of expertise. During triage we knew who would get the malnourished child, and who would get the patient with hypertension. Our triage skills became stellar.

They say a picture tells a thousand words, but I believe the eyes tell so much more. I can never describe what I have seen, heard, felt, and even smelled, but I do know I will always have a special place for Haiti in my heart. This has been an experience I will forever hold close to me and would do it again in a minute. It has reminded me why I became a nurse and I believe it has made me an even better nurse.

I want to say thank you to Relief International and Kaiser Permanente for giving me this opportunity to share my knowledge and compassion as a nurse to those in need.

Patti Parker, RN, CCRN

Kaiser Permanente Vacaville Medical Center

Patti Parker, RN, poses for a photo with a Haitian child injured in the Jan. 12 earthquake.

Patti Parker, RN, replaces a splint for a Haitian child in Carrefour who suffered a fractured tibia and fibula.

Deploying Mobile Clinics

Greetings from Carrefour, Port au Prince, Haiti.

With the fixed clinic in Carrefour up and running, we have now been able to turn our attention to the mobile clinics.  We are targeting several areas identified by the Ministry of Health as especially in need of this service.  Sunday morning we loaded up our two-vehicle convoy complete with three MDs, one RN, and multiple expat and national staff, and left our fixed clinic at 8:30 am.  We set up shop at Tabanarre de la Grasse, an Internally Displaced Persons camp on the site of what used to be a school and orphanage.  After a whirlwind of activity, the team had the tents and the clinic up and running by 10:30 am.  By noon we had done our first two acute care transfers.  By 3 p.m., we had seen 114 patients. We estimate 30 percent were in urgent need of our services and would have become sicker without this medical intervention.  We continue to see previously untreated earthquake injuries and many wounds that have now become infected.

We also continue to operate our fixed clinic and gave medical treatment to 148 patients.  The plan for Monday is more of the same, including setting up a new mobile clinic at a large IDP camp near what used to be the Prime Minister’s office.  We will run this clinic directly out of the backs of our trucks.

As you might imagine, our team is tired but extremely happy to have reached this many Haitians.  We have everything we need thanks to the incredible hospitality of Dr. Catherine Wolfe and Cherlie Severe, RN.  They normally live and operate Friends For Health in Haiti near Jeremie, Haiti, and have opened Cherlie’s home here in Carrefour to us for both our living and our fixed clinic space.  The aftershocks continue and most of us sleep outside, but frankly, it’s quite nice to sleep under the Haitian sky.

We continue to believe there is a great deal of urgent unmet need out there, and will be working very hard to find and treat those patients.

We would like to thank everyone for the incredible support and heartfelt wishes.  All of it means a great deal to our team.  Between the support of those back home and the gentle and grateful smiles of the Haitians, our spirits and energy levels remain high.  Thank you all for helping us to do this work.

And a special thank you to the team here on the ground, who do anything and everything when asked and even when not asked, and do it with unfailing energy and good humor: Josh Weil, MD (Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa), Vivian Reyes, MD (Kaiser Permanente San Francisco), Stephen Bretz, MD (John Muir Medical Center, Walnut Creek, Calif.), Catherine Wolf, MD (Friends For Health In Haiti), Linda Martin, RN (Kaiser Permanente Morse Sacramento), Kelly Belli (Kaiser Permanente Morse Sacramento), Cherlie Severe, RN (Friends For Health In Haiti), Barbie Law (Captain-Paramedic, Sacramento Metro Fire), Don Engle, DDS (Lafayette, Calif.), Serena Clayton (California School Health Centers Association), Mike Speaks (Denali Park, Alaska), Andrew Johnston (Project Coordinator, Relief International), and Tiare Cross (Team Leader, Relief International).  Hernando Garzon MD, who led the initial effort and established the team in Haiti, continues to be very much involved from the United States.

More later, we are heading out for clinics now.

Thanks to all!

Suzy Fitzgerald, MD
Medical Team Leader
Relief International
Kaiser Permanente Diablo Service Area

Update from Suzy Fitzgerald MD, January 26, 2010