Liz Drum, M.D.
February 17, 2010
It is midnight and I am ready for bed. We just finished taking care of an 11 month old girl with bad pneumonia and wheezing. She was admitted in the afternoon, and when we made evening rounds she was worse. We took her to a treatment room in the clinic because trying to treat her in a crowded tent just wouldn't work. At home she would have been in some kind of monitored area, Here she is in a hot crowded tent with about 10 other patients sleeping on pads on the floor with several family members each. Her oxygen level was only 88% but with some aggressive therapy she is a bit better. If we hadn't gone to check her, I am not sure she would have survived.
February 18, 2010
My little baby who was wheezing last night looked great this morning and went home.
We had several surgeries today including someone with a wrist fracture from the earthquake that hadn't yet been treated.
Every day I have people coming and going. We also have doctors, nurses and medics who get sent here to help us. There is a physician who is coordinating all local medical relief efforts in Southern Haiti. She is based at the airport and knows who comes and goes, and helps connect needs and providers. She has contacted me twice this week to offer help, which I accepted. I have a fair number of contacts and can ask for help if I need it.
There is a five year old boy that needs medical care that he won't get here, and I am working to see if I can get him evacuated to Philly.
I delivered another baby girl tonight!
February 19, 2010
Supplies arrived today.
Collapsed building in Jacmel.
Here is a tent with patients waiting for or recovering from treatment, along with many family members. Obviously, it is quite different from the patient setting at a typical hospital in the US.
Even under very difficult conditions, the children still can smile!
A banner to lift our spirits.
Liz's sister in law, Lisa Parker, made a banner for Team Ange which arrived today. As you can see, we hung it up right away! Some of the pictures were drawn by children in Lisa's neighborhood who had been told about the relief mission to Haiti.
February 22, 2010
It has been a crazy, whirlwind past several days. Thursday night there were just a few of us here. More people and supplies came over the weekend. We have been incredibly busy with multiple emergency surgeries and many sick patients. We continue to see patients with earthquake related injuries. We also continue to hear very sad stories. I had a patient yesterday and today who was 16, in labor with her first baby for 36 hours. Both of her parents were killed in the earthquake. She is living in a refugee camp. She ended up having an emergency csection.
We had a very sick patient last night for an emergency operation that needed an ICU which we don't have. We kept her in the OR all night because that was the only place we had oxygen and monitors. We had a very badly burned patient who died after 12 hours of emergency care. We had a patient who died from a severe asthma attack today. Tonight we are doing an emergency operation for a severe head injury.
February 23, 2010
There were several aftershocks last night, and it was a bit disconcerting. I was surprised at the noise -like thunder. We went outside for a while just in case but after an hour or so came back in. Between the emergency case and the aftershocks, I didn't sleep that well.
Departures from Jacmel are on a catch-as-catch-can basis. There are no scheduled commercial flights. I had committed to staying until the current group got oriented. They will start to leave on Thursday and another group will arrive Friday.
Short stays work well for busy professionals but take their toll on continuity of practice and care. Staying for almost three weeks has given me a much different perspective on the entire effort.
Because so many people are leaving later in the week, I started asking about flight availability a few days ago. Relief flights still come in with people and supplies daily and usually leave empty so you can usually get a ride, just can't always predict when and to where. Because I got to know people at the airport, they alerted me to a flight to Nassau this morning. So right now I am in Nassau waiting a flight to Philly via Charlotte.
It was a very bittersweet morning. I am so happy to be coming home, but still concerned about many of the patients and the logistics of the relief operation. I will still get and answer questions and queries about things when I get home. I am overwhelmed with many many emotions right now.
Please stay tuned as I have many more pictures to post, hopefully updates on the activities of Team Ange, and a trip to Ethiopia on March 18th. Would I go back to Haiti? Absolutely, in a heartbeat, and have already talked to people about it. Thanks for all of your thoughts, prayers, good wishes and messages!
At the hospital
Here is the street entrance to our hospital.
This mother was in labor for a very long time. We finally had to deliver the baby by emergency c-section.
Here I am with the brave mother and her new baby.
Scenes outside the hospital
While our hospital fortunately was not damaged by the earthquake, many buildings in Jacmel were.
Some buildings, like this one, have been completely destroyed.
Because of the damage to infrastructure, we need to buy our water in bottles.
Here are some children in the street outside the hospital.
Many people are living in tents as you can see here.
It is 1:30 am. I am about to go to sleep. There was just an aftershock that shook the building. It was a scary thing, I can't even imagine what the real earthquake was like. I was told that a structual engineer checked the building we are staying in before we were allowed to use it. I can see why people are afraid to return to their homes and other buildings.
Here she is in the airport, waiting for her big luggage!
Liz is now safely home. She looks very tired but good. Her journey from Jacmel to Philadelphia went very smoothly. She is going to get some rest now.
Thank you to everyone for your kind support.
Transition is hard!
I am sitting at home on my couch with the radio on watching the snow fall. We may get up to 18 inches today and tomorrow, depending on which report you believe. It seems quite odd to go from 90+ degree weather to snow. It is wonderful to be home, to spend time with Marc, to talk to family members and relax. But I am finding that transition is hard. People told me it would be, but it is hard to describe.
When I left Jacmel around 10 am, I hadn't had much time that morning to think about the fact that I was leaving. I went to see a few patients, had some art supplies to give some of the children that Lisa Parker, my sister-in-law sent, I said good bye to a few people and set off for the airport. As we took off, I looked out the window and said goodbye to Jacmel but it didn't really sink in that I was leaving. I looked through my pictures and took a little nap, and before I knew it, I was in Nassau. I did customs, got to the main terminal, got my boarding pass for my flight home, checked my bags and went to the main terminal. Then it hit me: I saw shops, food, drink, souvenirs, people obviously coming and going on vacation. They had no idea that less than three hours away were people who literally had nothing. A mattress on the floor in a tent with no water or sanitation was all they had, and that was good compared to some. It was all I could do not to be in tears the whole way home. I couldn't stop thinking about the patients I left behind, especially ones I had cared for and about intensely. I was mostly ok in the air because it was a little more isolated, but being in the crowds in the terminals was difficult.
I washed my hands in the restroom of one of the airports and felt warm water. It was the first warm water I had felt in almost three weeks. I could drink water out of the faucet. I can brush my teeth with water directly from the faucet. My bed is unbelievably comfortable. I dried my hair this morning, something I haven't done in three weeks. I need two sweaters to be warm. I don't need to use hand sanitizer. I slept pretty well the last two nights. My dreams were about things in Haiti. Nothing specific, but unpacking boxes, suturing wounds. I haven't ventured out of the house much. Now that it is snowing I will probably not go anywhere until tomorrow. I am enjoying a slow pace. I still have stacks of mail to go through, phone calls to make, people to see. It can wait.
I am still involved with things in Haiti. I got a call yesterday from someone I had met there who didn't realize that I was home. He was looking for a place to send a sick 2 month old. I was able to connect with people at the CME hospital where I was, and the baby got sent there and the baby was taken care of. I have talked to people here in Philly about our on-going efforts and how to best plan for the future and provide continuing service. I talked with the team leader of the team on their way today. I also have talked to other friends and colleagues who are about to go to Haiti with other groups.
I have so much to be thankful for. We have so much to be thankful for. The people of Haiti are friendly, warm, grateful and will be in my heart forever. I very much want to do whatever I can for as long as I can to help them.
Stay tuned to my blog. I have many more pictures to post, updates to add as I get them, thoughts about my time there that are still whirling around in my head. I know many of you followed my blog. I would love to hear from you directly. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to my facebook page that I just set up (I am trying to keep up with technology). Thanks for all of your love, thoughts and prayers!