Diary from Haiti: An overview

by Judith Kühl,  2010/01/22

She is the one who coordinates the journalistic work of the media representatives who accompany our team, arranges interviews, relieves the other coordinators and also reports on the aid work by herself as in this “diary from Haiti”. Judith Kühl, reporting from a destroyed city, between hope and fear.

Friday, 22nd of January, 2010, 11:40 CET

"18 doctors, nurses and paramedics, a pharmacist and four coordinators: Such a big humedica team can accomplish a lot. Since yesterday, three different teams have been working in and around the capital of Port-au-Prince. More and more people find help and thus, get a new perspective for their lives after the disastrous earthquake.

A great team with many possibilities for helping people actively. Foto: humedica

For eight days, the „hospital of hope“ has now been run by a part of the humedica team. After the quake, the hospital had been left quite intact, yet without staff and supplies. humedica sent doctors and nurses as well as medical supplies; patients who had been queuing at the gate, waiting for help, finally received treatment.

In many cases, surgical procedures are necessary and are carried out by our medical teams. There is still is a great need for operations. “The injuries are particularly serious,” says Prof. Dr. Domres, an experienced trauma surgeon who has treated earthquake victims all over the world. The humedica surgeons are working tirelessly under the most difficult conditions in order to help people.

Yesterday, we opened a second humedica hospital in Port-au-Prince. The hospital had also been deserted. Within a day, a team of doctors, nurses and a pharmacist, provided the hospital with medical supplies and reopened it on the next day.

„We’re just overwhelmed. It is a great challenge for us to open a hospital so spontaneously. None of us had ever done such a thing in Germany, of course. I must admit that I had a queasy feeling in the morning. Yet everything went well. Patients came and the hospital filled up. That’s a great feeling“, one of the nurses said yesterday evening.

Leogane, a suburb Port-au-Prince, was at the epicentre of last week’s aftershock. Foto: humedica

Also yesterday, an outpatient clinic was established by humedica in Leogane, about an hour from Port-au-Prince. On a terrain where other German relief agencies as well as Cuban emergency workers are present, two doctors and three medical assistants put up a tent for the walk-in treatment of emergency patients.

People were already queuing in front of the tent before everything had been prepared. Leogane, which was situated in the epicentre of the latest quake, was destroyed almost completely. The Germany embassy is considering long-term help especially for this town.

Today, the three teams will continue their work, highly motivated. “The flow of patients is incessant. Many people need our help. Of course we also have to be prepared for the after-care of patients. Their injuries are so serious that we cannot simply send them home after treatment.

Today, there will be a discussion in the German embassy in Haiti about the future of the numerous earthquake victims and patients. Tomorrow morning there will be a meeting at which representatives of more than 20 aid organizations will take part in order to discuss the present situation, plans for projects and cooperation. humedica will be present there as well.

Friday, 22nd of January 2010, 18:05 CET

How long does it take to set up an outpatient clinic? I would have guessed wrong. Very wrong. It only took us 42 minutes to set up a tent, unpack the first aid kit we had taken along and placing the first patients on the two treatment beds.
And off we go! Within a few minutes, the patients are standing in line.

Crushing injuries and fractures are among the most frequent injuries caused during the earthquake in Haiti. Foto: humedica

The two physicians, Markus and Philip are working nonstop, assisted by Sabine, a nurse, and Matthias, a paramedic. “I myself work as a coordinator on humedica missions, I am not a medical professional. “That doesn’t matter at all”, comments Sabine, “Every helping hand is important!” Simple tasks are briefly explained to me and off I go.

I was particularly affected by the fate of the 18-year-old Rose. She has got a deep wound on her right ankle which, unfortunately, got infected. It will not be possible to save the foot. It will be amputated in another hospital soon. She is screaming with pain.

I take her hand until the local anaesthetic takes effect. She is looking in my eyes, tired. In the meantime, Philip and Markus put a new bandage on her foot. They immediately give Rose medication that will protect her from a life-threatening infection.

Later, we carry her back into the yard that is full of patients who are lying on sheets and are being cared for by other international aid organizations. Rose’s mother is taking care of her daughter. Without words, yet with a smile, she is saying thanks.

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