Day 1: A World Forever Changed

by

We arrived in Port-au-Prince (PAP) this morning on schedule aboard a Lear Jet donated by a prominent Portland Business owner.  On approach, we could see the USS Carl Vincent in the harbor along with the USS Comfort.  It was clear we were entering the zone immediately upon arrival.  Helicopters, C 130s from several militaries, CNN, NBC, refugees, US Department of State and an airport building which is uninhabitable.  We exited our supple leather seats and hand polished rosewood tray tables and walked into the theatre of pandemonium.  The sheer magnitude of the effort at the airport was frankly overwhelming.  The sound, the sea of people and heat.  We off loaded our cargo which ranged from anesthesia medications and bandages, to bleach and underwater cable.  Ran into Sanjay Gupta and told him that he and Anderson Cooper are the reason that I am here.  What an even keel guy.  We hope to get him out to Kings in the next couple of days w/ Anderson.

As we drove through the streets of PAP so many Haitians were still stuck with the blank stare of utter shock and desperation.  Shanty towns, tent cities, trash, rubble, goats, more rubble and an occasional roadside stand selling water and coke.  We were taken immediately to Kings Hospital, where there was a line of patients out the door.  MTI nurses were triaging and prioritizing, keeping order on both the outpatient and inpatient sectors…only for the apple cart to be upset when an emergent patient arrived.  That happened at least 10 times today. 

We were briefed and put to work.  Clinical teams deployed to outpatient and inpatient sectors a nurse and anesthesiologist deployed to the OR and me playing jack of all trades.   I unloaded supplies, helped Nurse Ann triage and keep order with the patients and their families, and found a little girl who’s sister was brought in unconscious and who herself had not eaten in 8 days.  I made her a peanut butter sandwich and then another and then another.  Her smile got bigger each time.  It was one of the highlights of my days.

Attached are a couple of pictures showing team members and patients from today.

I saw things I never imagined.  Injuries beyond belief.  I even helped a young girl who vomited several times, only to find a 6 inch tapeworm in her bed pan.  Everyone wanted to see that.  She was quite proud.  A 500 mg dose of mebendazole and we hopefully killed the sucker.

I was drafted this evening to serve as the administrator of Kings Hospital.  I was honored to be asked.  Working with Dan Diamond, emergency doc extraordinaire from Bremerton, WA, we’ve developed an org chart and tomorrow I will brief staff and develop job descriptions.  Our goal is to develop an org structure that will transcend the eventual departure of MTI in a few months.  The Haitian doc who owns the hospital is like no one I’ve ever met.  She is so thankful for thinking about how to integrate our needs today while leaving a legacy for her organization long term.

Tomorrow I will share more about the working conditions and give you a sense of our living conditions.  They are quite plush by relief standards.

As I will say many times over, I have never and I mean never, worked with a group of more dedicated and caring people than I did today.

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12 Responses to “Day 1: A World Forever Changed”

  1. HelpHaiti Says:

    I really want to thank all of the brave people who have taken their time to help the people in need. It really makes me happy that people are volunteering and doing this. Thanks so much!

  2. Bonnie Olson Says:

    Thank you! Thank you! Your thoughtfulness and caring gives me hope that our world still has incredible people that are doing what I believe is our purpose on earth, to help one another. God bless each of you. And thank you for all you are doing to help our brothers and sisters.

  3. Tzaddi Bondi Says:

    Andy,
    I am in awe of you and the experiences you are having in Haiti. I cannot even fathom what those poor people are experiencing. I wish so much that I could come help in any way possible. You are a hero! Thank you so much for letting us into your world. Please, please let me know if there is anything I can do and/or have our classroom do to help out or brighten someone’s day.
    My class will be following your blog starting Monday. These kids are so compassionate and interested.
    Please take care!
    Tzaddi:)

  4. Brother Rick Says:

    AD: Im glad you and the team arrived safely in country. It sounds as though things are as you expected and I am sure they are much more extreme than we can imagine. The impact that you and the team will have on those you touch will be felt for generations to come and the people of Haiti will be forever grateful. Be smart; be safe and know your family and friends are cheering you on. Saw Fraser last night in Seattle – he sends his best wishes and says he is very proud of you – as are we!

  5. Kim Klupenger Says:

    Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. It is the only thing that ever has.

    ~ Margaret Mead quotes

    ********************
    You and the team are truly changing the world – that child’s world which has shrank to eating a peanut butter sandwich; the next patient’s world who is hoping to be healed; and the larger world who is watching the efforts provided by you and dedicated others, on the ground, providing care, support, compassion, and leadership.

  6. Jeff Johnston Says:

    Andy (aka ‘West Coast Brutha’) – Got the link to your blog from my good buddy, your eldest bro. Just gotta tell you I’m proud to know you. I’m also extremely proud of the team you’re working with. You are all proving America really does care about the rest of the world. I’d be glad to donate cash or send you some necessity, just let me know the most effective way to help out short of being on-site.
    Stay safe, good luck, we’re all rooting for you and the team.
    Jeff ‘Commish’ Johnston

  7. Courtney Brearley Says:

    Hi dad! Like Jim, I tell everyone about your trip too. I’m still visiting your blog every day and night, and the things you’re doing for these people is truly remarkable. I feel so proud to be your daughter :)

    I love you and miss you lots, stay safe!

    Court

  8. Paul Zabierek Says:

    I just posted a link to this blog entry to my Facebook and Twitter accounts. Just wanted to let you know that your efforts are VERY MUCH appreciated – not only over there, but back here (we live in Marin Cty. California) as well.

    Thank you for becoming doctors and nurses, thank you for being compassionate, thank you for being there in Haiti right now. Seriously: thanks.

  9. Dee Morris Says:

    Andy, We will keep you and your team in our thought here at CareOregon. Reading your blog is very humbling.

  10. James Lamb Says:

    I tell everone I know about you and your teams effort. Incredible.
    It brings me great pride that you are putting it all out there.

    We are all thinking of you.

  11. Kim Lamb Says:

    I am humbled, as expected, from your experience and efforts thus far. I can only imagine what the hours and days to follow will be for all of you. Literally hitting the ground running, I’m also inspired and encouraged with the benefits that your group is bringing both in serving the immediate trauma/needs of the community but in looking forward to create a foundation for Kings Hospital and the outlying community – that will create a more sustainable future. Thoughts and prayers are with each of you and all that you serve.

  12. Tina Castañares MD Says:

    Good work, Andy and colleagues. Be safe and take care of yourselves as well as so many others. TC from Hood River

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