As the fundraiser for HHA, I regularly read the blogs and reports that are written by the volunteers who visit the hospital. These first hand accounts give a great insight into the what is being achieved and the challenges that remain. I read a blog recently (link to full article below) written by Flick Montgomery, a doctor in training from the UK who chose to do her 6 week medical elective with us at our project in Haiti. I wanted to share a few extracts with you as it really highlights why we set up the maternity and paediatric units all those years ago.
Flick reflects on how her expectations of what level of involvement she would have compared with her actual experience:
"The reality was both humbling and ideal – we soon realized that we couldn’t add any skills or knowledge to what the doctors and nurses more than amply provide, but were warmly invited to watch, learn and get involved as much as we could."
She then describes how different healthcare is in Haiti and in the UK:
"One of the biggest differences between the medical care in Haiti at HCBH and that of NHS hospitals at home, was the resources available to the clinical staff. There is clearly no lack of the same clinical knowledge and skill that you find at home, with maybe an even greater desire to give the best possible care, but where in UK hospitals tests are sent off left right and centre, scans and imaging done all day, and a whole range of treatments and medications readily available, the doctors we worked with are forced to work with a much, much more limited set of options."
And then she makes the point that echoes exaclty why HHA was set up nearly 10 years ago:
"We saw countless cases where the staff knew exactly what was wrong with a patient, exactly what they needed to do, and exactly how to do it, but were forced down a much vaguer path due to the lack of many diagnostic tests and specific treatments. We couldn’t help but share in the infuriation of being prevented from providing the care that you know you need to give, simply due to not having the supplies of wealthier countries’ health systems."
The death of a young girl, who could have been saved by the doctor if he only had more equipment, was the catalyst for the creation of the hospital and eventually the maternity and paediatric units. Despite the presence of 100+ bed hospital, the challenge to provide enough equipment still remains. This is particularly apparent in child and infant care due to the amount of specialist equipment needed.
The medical staff in the unit do their best to make up for the lack of equipment. Flick talks about their incredible resourcefulness:
"But we also couldn’t help but be amazed with how the doctors respond to this frustrating reality. Being unable to send off as many tests as you need and to try whichever treatment you think optimal has led to a clinical confidence and resourcefulness that does not rely on that diagnostic test you sent off ‘just in case’ – you have to know your stuff and go with your gut."
Flick's account is real and from the heart and well worth a read. Your donations are helping to improve the care we provide in Haiti. Whether you are supporting the doctor who stays at work well past his shift to deliver several more babies, or the NICU nurses who find whatever space and equipment they can to accomodate yet another desperately sick baby, or a new piece of breathing equipment that will save many babies in the future - you can be sure your money is making a real difference. Together we will overcome these challenges. Thank you so much for your support.