Field Update (March 5, 2010)
The GHESKIO Field Hospital and Clinic After the Earthquake in Haiti
By Jean William Pape, MD
Note: This field update paraphrases from dispatches recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The Port-au-Prince clinic of the Haitian Group for the Study of Kaposi’s Sarcoma and Opportunistic Infections (GHESKIO) has become a refugee camp and an emergency field hospital, even as we continue to run our clinic for thousands of patients with AIDS or tuberculosis. Despite our own losses (4 GHESKIO staff members died, 4 were critically injured, 28 lost an immediate family member, and 90 are homeless), we continue to provide medical care around the clock, working with international partners.
The GHESKIO AIDS and Tuberculosis Clinic has continued to provide outpatient care to patients with AIDS or tuberculosis. We also operate an inpatient tuberculosis sanatorium. Since the earthquake, 85% of our 6000 patients with AIDS.. have returned for their medications and clinical follow-up. Patients are being seen in an outdoor courtyard, since neither staff nor patients trust clinic buildings.
Continuing tuberculosis treatment and prevention in Port-au-Prince is critical, since tuberculosis spreads easily in poor, crowded housing. The GHESKIO tuberculosis sanatorium at Signeau collapsed. It housed 80 patients, including several with multidrug-resistant (MDR) tuberculosis; 4 patients died, and a number are missing. We have traced all our patients with MDR tuberculosis, and they are receiving their medications.
The number of people living in the GHESKIO refugee camp has swelled… A census counted 6,109 people, including 1,046 children under 5 years of age, crowded into 1,162 makeshift shelters. The Danish Red Cross visited our camp and noted that it was the most densely populated one they had seen in Port-au-Prince. Most of the refugees come from two large nearby slums...
Obtaining essential supplies has been difficult – the bureaucracy is overwhelming... We have purchased some supplies… and received funds from partner organizations…
The first phase of the disaster in Haiti is now ending, with hundreds of thousands of people having died from trauma. But the second phase promises to be as cruel as the first, with deaths due to exposure, starvation, and infectious diseases. Millions of Haitians are homeless and have no food, clean water, sanitation, or primary health care. And the rainy season is coming…
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