Jean Nusbaum, M.D.
February 11, 2010
I spent a week in Haiti traveling with a group, mostly from Minnesota, organized by No Time for Poverty. We worked at a pediatric hospital in Port-au-Prince called St. Damien’s. We were very very busy. I was with two orthopedic surgeons, also at the hospital was an Italian team with pediatric surgeon and plastic surgeon. We had two ORs and I was pleasantly surprised with all the supplies we had, for the surgeons as well as myself. A donated C-arm arrived the day we did, and it was put to use immediately. The ortho docs thought it might be the only one in Haiti. We started our days at 8 AM and operated until 8-10 PM daily.
We brought our own tents which we pitched, I slept on my yoga mat (which I left in Haiti).
I did NOT have an anesthesia machine. I had plenty of IV drugs including ketamine, versed, fentanyl, morphine, glycopyrrolate, and propofol. Ketamine was a mainstay but I added more propofol as I became more comfortable with the surroundings. The goal was always to maintain spontaneous respirations. I had an ambu bag but I never used it. There was O2 in large tanks but 2/3 of the cases were room air. No suction, just a bulb suction device (also never used).
The ORs were well over 100 degrees during the day. There was no PACU nurse. There WERE monitors. We tried to keep an eye on the patients as they recovered just outside the OR in the “holding” area.
Also doing anesthesia during various days I was there was an Italian anesthesiologist, two CRNAs, and a North Carolina anesthesiologist. None of us had extensive regional background, and we had no stimulating needles so regional anesthesia was not part of our practice except for a few spinals. I know other groups did use regional anesthesia primarily, but we accomplished a great deal with IV anesthetics.
My hospital has links to our trip at www.queenofpeacehospital.com
It was an incredibly inspiring experience to care for these wonderful people. I regret that I was unable to stay longer. I felt like what I was doing was more valuable than any service I have ever provided.