With thousands of survivors needing amputations to save their lives following the January 12 earthquake, the PIH/Zanmi Lasante team has been increasingly concerned with how to help amputee patients literally get back on their feet.
A partnership with Hôpital Albert Schweitzer (HAS) is starting to fit these patients with prosthetic devices. With a well-stocked factory in partnership with prosthetics manufacturer Hanger, HAS has already begun accepting patients referred by PIH/ZL from the Central Plateau and Artibonite regions.
In early March, the PIH/ZL team brought three patients with lower extremity amputations to HAS for their prosthetic fitting. Staff noted the immediate change in the women as soon as they received their new legs--they were each able to stand up and walk with the aid of parallel bars, and quickly left behind their fears, prejudices, and doubts with each determined step. PIH/ZL staff also report that the three women are now able to walk as well as kick soccer balls - and next up on their agenda is dancing.
These three women are just a few of the patients who have undergone procedures at our hospitals and will be receiving prosthetic care through this partnership. Thank you for enabling this work!
PIH had more than 100 doctors, 600 nurses, and a total of 4,000 Haitian employees on the ground in Haiti working from 12 existing PIH medical facilities in Haiti before the earthquake struck on January 12th.
• PIH quickly established field hospitals in Port-au-Prince, helping set up 20 operating rooms, 12 of which were able to function around the clock.
• PIH established a comprehensive triage and relief transfer system to move patients back and forth from Port-au-Prince to PIH sites in the Central Plateau and Lower Artibonite Valley.
• PIH is evacuating patients in critical condition to hospitals in the United States and Dominican Republic as well as to the U.S.N.S. Comfort.
• PIH has sent 66 plane loads with more than 235 medical volunteers – orthopedic surgeons, anesthesiologists, surgical nurses and other medical professionals – and roughly 100,000 lbs of medical supplies to support the large network of PIH’s local health care providers already working in Haiti.
• The long-term ramifications in Haiti are going to be significant and far-reaching with a new, large group of vulnerable and displaced people. PIH has the experience and commitment to Stand With Haiti for many years to come.
Looking ahead, PIH’s efforts will be spent in three core areas:
1) supporting the public sector’s ability to provide health care;
2) mobilizing people at the grassroots level to participate in the health care system; and
3) addressing the mid- and long-term health, social, and economic ramifications of the resettlement of tens of thousands of people from Port-au-Prince to areas where PIH works.
Dr. Paul Farmer, PIH co-Founder and United Nations Deputy Special Envoy for Haiti, recently testified at the “Haiti: From Rescue to Reconstruction” hearing of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
"I am at my core optimistic about the possibilities before us and the potential of our support to help rescue and transform our poorest neighbor," stated Paul in his submitted testimony. "The response from citizens of the United States to the recent events in Haiti has been overwhelming and encouraging. There is the promise of solidarity by our leadership to make long-term commitments to the kinds of investments needed in Haiti—and to fulfilling them."
"For two centuries, the Haitian people have struggled for basic human and economic rights, the right to health care, the right to education, the right to work, the right to dignity and independence,"he continued. "These goals, which Haitians share with people all over the world, should direct our policies of aid and rebuilding."
Read and watch the complete testimony at the link below:
Sent on January 17, 2010, 3:34AM, General Hospital in Port-au-Prince (HUEH) by Dr. Evan Lyon of Partners In Health:
can't get through much now but beyond the horror, one very striking reality is that things are totally peaceful. we circulated in PAP in the middle of everything until just now. everywhere. no UN. no police. no US marines and no violence or chaos or anything. just people helping each other. drove past the main central park in PAP where at least 50K people must be sleeping and it was almost silent.
people cooking, talking, some singing and crying. people are kind, calm, generous to us and others. even with hundreds lying on the ground, open fractures, massive injuries of all kinds.
there are few dead bodies on the street. stench is everywhere. the city is changed forever.
we had a late day opportunity to evacuate 4 patients to the US. these may be the first haitian nationals allowed to leave for the US. but martinique has taken over 200. the DR has taken many many more. so we circulated in PAP looking for urgent cases. found hundreds but picked up the 4 to get out, hopefully to philadelphia. open fractures, gangrene, one 4 year old boy with a leg broken in 3 places, a minor head wound, and now 4 days of sleeping outside with IV fluid and maybe some pain meds. probably none.
at the airport, we drove onto the tarmac to meet the air ambulance. surrounded by marines and UN, massive weapons. a humvee with a gunner turret at the top drove by. the noise from the large transport planes was deafening. us citizens and haitian american citizens leaving by the hundreds on US planes. and our small team of haitian and american docs evacuating a drop in the bucket. my ears are still ringing from the noise of it all.
in contrast, port au prince is silent. no current. no car traffic. people sleeping in the streets but little else. beside the impossible weight and tragedy of this city completely devastated, one lasting impression was the stillness of the city. in shock, tragically sad, but quiet. so good to get away from the airport.
sleeping tonight in the house of a dear PIH friend and doctor. attending to neighbors here and able to rest. safety and the work is with our sisters and brothers in this beautiful, proud, and strong nation.
the safest and best way to be here and help is with our colleagues and friends. wonderful to be in the city, away from the airplanes, and working shoulder to shoulder with people we know and love and will continue work with to mourn, assist, and rebuild this special country.
in the photo you see the first time operating of any kind possible at the main general and academic center.
for press / outreach strategy, we might highlight the generosity and getting it done kindness of the air ambulance team. they also left us all the supplies they had on board - water, meds, IV material, blankets, food.
goodnight everyone. love. evan.
• From Dr. Evan Lyon, 7:00pm, from the General Hospital (HUEH) in Port-au-Prince: “Incredible progress in our capacity here. 7 ORs running. 10-12 by tomorrow night. We have electricity and will be operating overnight tonight for the first time.”
• Surgical services are ramping up rapidly at the central hospital in Port-au-Prince, where PIH has been assigned by the World Health Organization to coordinate the response of seven other non-governmental organizations from around the world. Five operating rooms are now staffed and performing surgeries around the clock. But they have a desperate need for all the resources required to run a hospital: surgical equipment—anesthesia machines, sterilizers, autoclaves; surgical consumables—alcohol, suture; surgical instruments—scalpels, saws; and the essentials of life—water, food, and fuel. PIH has managed to deliver some essential supplies. With more than 1,000 patients awaiting surgery, large-scale shipments from larger governmental and charitable organizations are urgently needed.
• Hundreds of thousands of earthquake victims need food, water, and shelter NOW. While scattered incidents of violence have made the headlines, they are no excuse for delaying delivery of humanitarian assistance. Our team on the ground, which has been criss-crossing Port-au-Prince at all hours, reports that the city is remarkably calm and quiet amidst the devastation. While security must be a concern wherever and whenever people are desperate to provide for themselves and their families, the most effective response is not military intervention but massive, well-organized, and equitable humanitarian assistance.
• Paul Farmer, PIH co-founder, is in Port-au-Prince today meeting with government officials and international relief organizations to assist in the coordination of the relief efforts.
• Yesterday, a PIH team of 25 medical professionals (surgical teams, anesthesiologists, emergency room physicians and nurses) arrived in Haiti and were operating and caring for patients within hours after they touched down. Many of the patient they are seeing are very serious cases (mostly amputations). There remains a great need for additional medicines (anesthesia and narcotics), medical equipment (anesthesia machines and x-rays), medical supplies (IV’s, tubing, irrigating saline), and water. PIH will be sending additional planes with medical teams and supplies into Haiti in the course of the next 48 hours.
• Yesterday, PIH succeeded in transporting four very critical patients and one guardian out of Haiti on a MedEvac plane to Philadelphia, where they landed in the early morning hours today. All four patients desperately needed surgical and post-op care not possible under current conditions in Haiti. To the best of our knowledge these are among the first patients evacuated to the US since the earthquake. All four patients survived the trip to Philadelphia and are already receiving the urgent care they need.
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