“Apart from physical injuries, we are also dealing with psychological traumata“

by Dr. Philip Fischer/RBU,  2010/07/13

Without our honorary team members who commit themselves to our missions in order to help people in misery the relief efforts of humedica could not be implemented. Furthermore it is those persons who can report best about the situation in countries where our mission teams are working, since they have seen it with their own eyes, listened with their own ears and experienced it by themselves.

Dr Philip Fischer did not only work as a surgeon in his field of expertise. Photo: humedica

One of those persons is Dr Philip Fischer. The surgeon from Bonn returned from Haiti at the end of June 2010; together with humedica he had helped many patients at the Hospital of Hope on their way into future. He has seen, listened and felt by himself and he tells about his experiences in the following report:

“On May 21, 2010 a team of ten persons –including myself – set out on their way to Haiti with the objective of supporting the relief efforts of humedica. It was the first disaster operation for all of us. Nevertheless, our combination of team members soon proved to be ideal.

Medical competences were spread on a broad scale, since the team contained everything from an anaesthetist, via an internist, an emergency surgeon, a paediatrician, a radiologist to medical students and nursing staff.

Some of us started to work at the “Hôpital Espoir“, a children’s hospital which had been converted into a tent and disaster hospital, while the others assisted in the operation of a mobile hospital in Léogane, the epicentre of the earthquake.

Injuries we treated

Taking brave steps this patient practices to walk on her artificial leg. Photo: humedica/Philip Fischer

Even when descending over Port-au-Prince, we could already see thousands of tents and camps where the victims of the earthquake had taken refuge. The first two weeks we spent taking out plates – so-called fixators used to fix broken bones - which had had the purpose of promoting the healing process of bone fractures, but then had become infected and we treated festering abscesses.

Soon the people living in the area heard about the team of surgeons working at the Hospital of Hope and we received cases of medical emergency almost on a daily basis. People brought them on the truck beds of their cars and wrapped in bloody sheets. Although these injuries were not a consequence of the earthquake, they were just as serious.

We treated injuries sustained during accidents at construction sites, children who had fallen, and head lacerations. We stabilised the most critically injured victims of traffic accidents at our emergency room. We stopped bleeding, secured the functioning of respiratory systems and administered pain killers. While we treated injuries, physiotherapists worked in parallel with us in the field of rehabilitation of patients.

Psychological traumata are deep

Many of the children I met seemed to be cheerful and happy on the first sight. But as soon as I wanted to examine them or remove their stitches, they started crying bitterly.

A study which had been conducted at our hospital about the existence of a post-traumatic stress syndrome proved that 71 percent of those patients questioned showed corresponding symptoms. Hence, people did not only suffer from physical injuries and infections, but they were additionally burdened with psychological traumata.

It is not known to us how deeply traumatised the victims of the earthquake really are. Photo: humedica/Philip Fischer

Over the weeks, our fields of operation shifted. After we had treated the acute infections, the dismissal of patients resulted to be highly problematic. But this is understandable – they simply had no place to go to.

They had lost their homes, their children and family members had died during the earthquake. We took care of every patient and tried to find a tent and a safe place for them. Many patients still return to the Hospital of Hope on a regular basis in order to receive physiotherapeutic treatment.

In the years to come, the people of Haiti will still struggle with the share of the population who were injured or lost a limb during the earthquake in 2010. There is a lack of everything: of food, sanitary products, long-term and specialised medical treatment, shelter and education.

This is one of the poorest countries in the world. It depends on our support.”

Dear friends and sponsors of humedica, please support us by means of a targeted donation to:
      humedica e.V.
      Donation reference "Earthquake Haiti"
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

Please also donate online in order to help the people in Haiti or chose a fast, simple and secure way of supporting us by means of a text message:
simply send DOC to the abbreviated dialling +49 8 11 90 and support us with a one-time donation of 5 euros, with 4.83 euros of this amount being directly channelled into the humedica project work. Thank you very much.

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