Day 3: A Glimmer of Hope Amidst the Chaos


I am ragged, dirty and having a blast. While I have not slept much for the last 5 nights, I am energized not exhausted. Despite the majority of experiences being absolutely heartbreaking, I am mentally focused on the moments of greatness rather than the moments of despair.and there are many.

We made a lot of headway today in organizing hospital operations. As their administrator, this is my measure of making a difference. Im on my way implementing our org structure and policies. The medical team was not threatened by this structure. They embraced it, supported it and supported me. As Dr. Dan Diamond says, they were lovin on the scene.

In general, the city seems to be stabilizing. I was at the United Nations compound yesterday, which is by the airport, and got to see all of the various US search and rescue trucks and equipment heading to the tarmac to be loaded onto C 130s. NY, LA County, Dade County..They drive through the city with lights and sirens ablaze. It was a bittersweet send off as it meant that search and rescue had officially turned to recovery. I was glad to have the chance to see it and reflect. And then it was back to hospital.

We are continuing to see a very large influx of patients. A few really just need clinic or primary care. But most have major trauma ranging from burns to infected leg fractures with a little rotting flesh thrown in. Last night we had a patient die. Today we delivered a healthy baby and it lifted the entire hospitals spirits Haitian patients, families staff and our ex-pat team. The crying and screaming stopped for a while. That baby made a difference in morale that was really needed. Yesterday we had to amputate the babys fathers big toe. It was infected and had maggots visibly crawling in the flesh. Yet today, you would never know what that guy went through thanks the baby.

I have at least 10 other examples of moments of greatness. Im just too tired tonight to reflect.

Tomorrows wish is for the US Army 82nd Airborne to return to the hospital, following their offer to assist today. We are in need of so many critical supplies and they are our ticket to staying just . rely ahead of the curve. In addition to securing the hospitals perimeter, we need their help in evacuating 4 patients that need immediate orthopedic surgery to save their broken limbs. We need shipping containers to stor supplies and equipment. We need very specific medications which are in short supply city-wide, most importantly IV based antibiotics. And we need them to work with the Spanish Army who have been on site working to sure up the hospital itself. We are earthquake damaged and each successive tremor threatens the safety of our building and the people inside. It will be repaired tomorrow.

Ill close tonight with what I view as a small but really import sign of progress. At about 5 tonight we discharged a patient who had his leg amputated below the knee a few days ago. What enabled us to even consider this discharge was one simple but impossible to find item — crutches. We can NOT find crutches anywhere in Haiti or the Dominican Republic. This guy really wanted to go home. And we had said not possible all day. Then at about 4:30 a pair of crutches literally appeared out of nowhere.

Call it what you want.Ill call it a poignant example of serendipity. And those serendipitous events are what keep all of us forging ahead under extreme circumstances.
Below are a few pictures including one of the amputee we discharged tonight.


One Response to “Day 3: A Glimmer of Hope Amidst the Chaos”

  1. Beverly Schnetzler Says:

    Know your brother Mike. There are lots of us who are with you in spirit, and envious that you are able to help these poor people directly. We applaud your efforts and have sent funds to be used among the orgs working in Haiti. Keep up your work while watching out for yourselves!

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