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Jan 15, 2010

January 14, 2010 Update

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.

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