Partners In Health: Sat. 1/16 Report from Haiti
Partners In Health (PIH) has been providing vital health care services in Haiti for more than 20 years and has over 100 doctors, 600 nurses and 4,000 employees on the ground in Haiti working from 10 existing PIH hospitals to provide relief services to those affected by Tuesday’s earthquake.
PIH surgical teams are currently located in: Port-au-Prince, St Marc, Cange, Hinche, and Belladere and medical teams located elsewhere.
“We find that years of patient investment in building a strong local partner organization mean that we are again in the position of responding effectively to a natural disaster. We are very proud of our team.” – Paul Farmer on Partners In Health and Zanmi Lasante
Here are the latest on-the-ground developments as reported by the PIH team in Haiti:
• The PIH team in Port-au-Prince has been designated by the World Health Organization to serve as coordinators at University Hospital (HUEH). In that role, PIH is supporting the administration and staff in restoring services at the city's central hospital, which will also serve as the base of operations for our emergency triage and surgical teams in Port-au-Prince and for referring patients who need more advanced care for transport to our facilities in the Central Plateau and Lower Artibonite.
• Today, PIH is sending 25 medical professionals (surgical teams, anesthesiologists, emergency room physicians and nurses) to support ongoing efforts. The doctors and nurses are from Partners Health Care and Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center and many speak Haitian Creole. PIH has also sent engineers to assess structural damage and safety at HUEH and PIH facilities. Additionally, PIH is sending over 300,000 bottles of potable water and well as approximately 1,500 lbs of critically needed medicines, medical supplies and equipment. The medical teams and supplies are being transported via four separate planes and set to arrive on the ground in Haiti by later this afternoon/evening.
• PIH teams located in the Central Plateau are reporting a wave of massive reverse urban migration among more able bodied Haitians fleeing the devastated and chaotic capital looking for safety, shelter and medical care. PIH experts believe these migration trends will have long-lasting impacts on the settlement patterns across Haiti with profound impact on the public health system and social services. PIH was built in partnership with the Ministry in Health for more than 20 years.
• PIH co-founder Paul Farmer flew into Haiti on Friday (1/15). He witnessed the devastation, met with Haitian government officials and reviewed the situation at the University Hospital, confirming the importance of restoring its capacity to serve as the hub of the medical response in the capital. In his capacity as the UN’s Deputy Special Envoy for Haiti, he also met with staff from the UN mission that lost its headquarters and over 100 colleagues in the earthquake to offer his solace and support.
The catastrophe in Haiti spared the country’s largest – and, I believe, most effective – rural health care provider, Partners In Health. The organization’s principal founder, Dr. Paul Farmer, is on his way to Haiti now with a surgical team. The staff already in Haiti will welcome his arrival, but they have been at work for days now. Indeed, they were some of the first medical personnel to respond to the crisis. This is a large, highly skilled group of about 2000 community health workers, 500 nurses, and 120 doctors. All but a few of them are Haitian. They are spread out now. Thousands of injured people have been traveling from the capital to the hospitals that PIH operates, along with the Ministry of Health, in the Central Plateau – 10 hospitals, all well-equipped and fully functional. Others of the PIH-Haiti team are in the capital Port-au-Prince, where they have set up mobile clinics and where they are now establishing a central base of operations. The plan is to provide emergency care to all comers and to stabilize patients who need higher levels of care and arrange to get them to the PIH hospitals.
Personally, I take hope from the example that PIH has set and is setting again. I think it is one excellent model for the reconstruction of Haiti to come: an endeavor that employs and trains Haitians every step of the way, that builds infrastructure while attending to the basic needs of the poor, that does all it can to strengthen the public sector.
Many people have been writing to ask what they can do. Paul reports, “I just talked to some of my Haitian coworkers who are in Port-au-Prince in the general hospital, and they’ve reported to work. [But] they don't have electricity yet. They don't have the supplies that they need. But there's a lot of Haitian health professionals, doctors, nurses, aides who would like to [do their job], but to do that you need the supplies. You have to have the basics. Gauze, plaster, or other casts. You have to have the equipment that you need. Anesthesia, pain medications, antibiotics. And that's what some of my medical colleagues are asking us for, supplies."
PIH is purchasing and procuring donated supplies around the clock. To aid in these efforts, please consider making a donation to their efforts today.
- Tracy Kidder
Tremors from Tuesday’s massive earthquake were still being felt in Port-au-Prince this morning. “Little earthquake passed this morning, it’s not done yet,” wrote Dr. Fernet Leandre, a physician at PIH’s sister organization Zanmi Lasante. “[People are] crying, yelling… some are still alive under houses’ debris or ruins.”
Like our facilities in Hinche and Cange, the St. Marc Hospital where Fernet sent his message from, is handling many cases from Port-au-Prince. "The crowd of injured continues to arrive at St. Marc, and there's no surgeon," he said. He and Zanmi Lasante staff are working to bring in a surgeon to handle the many orthopedic cases facing the facility.
Trip to Port-au-Prince reveals more of the tragedy:
A report from Cate Oswald, one of our staff in Haiti, reveals a tragedy more dire than we could have ever expected. Yesterday, she traveled through the Central Plateau to Port-au-Prince and back with our two trucks of meds and supplies. She described the scene:
"We started seeing destruction from Mt. Cabrit (where big rocks lie in the middle of the road) through Croix de Bouquets where it doesn't seem as bad but lots of walls down. Then the scene gets much, much worse. Tonight, everywhere throughout the city, as we drove by the national plaza, there are thousands of people sleeping outside. While I was in Port-au-Prince, there were still aftershocks being felt. I didn't venture into other parts of the city, but as you all know, koze sa pa jwet menm [Haitian saying literally translated as 'this is not a game']."
The trucks met up with PIH staff, including Dr. Louise Ivers in Port-au-Prince, at the UN’s Log Base in Port-au-Prince. Louise was one of two doctors attending at the time, and they had nothing but aspirin until our trucks showed up. The conditions are horrific and people are dying, but in Cate’s report she was hopeful that the supplies will help those at Log Base for the time being. Tomorrow, we plan to move PIH/Zanmi Lasante’s base of operations to the public hospital in the capital city. Some of our colleagues are at the public hospital today assessing the needs and are organizing the next steps of getting supplies, equipment, and additional staff there.
Importantly, given the patients already flowing out of Port-au-Prince to St. Marc and our other facilities outside the city, we cannot leave our hospitals understaffed. So we are recruiting surgeons, anesthetists, nurses, and other medical professionals to go down in the next couple of days to help with staffing, particularly as many of our staff have lost family members and friends.
There are still a handful of our colleagues unaccounted for – we continue to have every hope that it is due to lack of ability to communicate via telephone and the lack of electricity for computers, but we do not know.
Our staff has more or less been working around the clock in Boston and Haiti. We will be paying close attention to our team in Haiti and hope that the volunteer medical groups will help give some of them time to rest, particularly those who have just experience the trauma of being in Port au Prince for the worst of the earthquake’s wreckage.
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.
Annual Giving Coordinator