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 whos 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.