Team Haiti Hurricanes arrived in Port-au-Prince on this medical mission trip ready to hit the ground running. Our base camp was south of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince and the closer we got to it, the greater the devastation from the hurricane became.
Every day in clinic, our triage team was hopping as we determined what kind of care each of our patients needed and which provider to direct them to. Many of our patients needed treatment for dehydration and for wounds inflicted during and after the hurricane – broken glass, twisted metal, nails, and other sharp objects littered the ground everywhere.
In addition to wounds, patients had a range of other complaints including stomach ailments, rashes, headaches and body aches, and ear, eye, and skin infections. Many also had sexually transmitted diseases, urinary tract infections, vaginitis, pneumonia, bacterial infections, staph infections, and general complaints of pain. Some of our patients had never seen a doctor before, and many walked miles to see us.
We also made sure every patient received community education to learn about the importance of staying hydrated, hand washing and basic hygiene, water purification, and oral hygiene.
One of our favorite patients during the week was a young boy with a congenital eye defect and a radiant smile who came to the clinic without his family. He spent the day with us and we treated him for worms and fungus and irrigated his eyes. Although his vision was severely impaired, he had nothing but a huge smile for everyone he met. We were sad to see him head home at the end of the day.
Another patient was a young girl with self-inflicted wounds on her legs who believed she was possessed. But she did allow us to clean and dress her wounds. We saw her again for a recheck on the last day of clinic and were happy to see the dressings in place and her wounds beginning to heal, but without any kind of mental health treatment available for her, we were afraid for what her future might hold.
Our hostess for one of our clinic days surprised us with a service of song and praise from the community to thank us for our work. The group began with less than 20 people and quickly grew to more than 70. They celebrated for close to an hour. We were touched by the outpouring of love and support from the community by people who had been through so much.
During the week we saw a young girl who presented with seizures. In talking with her family, one of our PAs discovered she had fallen recently, which may have caused a subdural hematoma and the sudden onset of the seizures. We are working with a Haitian neurosurgeon who has been a long-time partner of IMR to get her to Port-au-Prince for treatment.
On our last day, Team Haiti Hurricanes had planned on holding a half-day clinic for about 50 people to allow us to make the long drive back to Port-au-Prince to catch our flights home early the next morning. However, word of the clinic got out into the community, and by 6:30 a.m., we had 200 patients waiting for medical care. Our team went to work registering and triaging patients, treating wounds and infections, diagnosing conditions, providing education, handing out glasses and prescription medicines, and everything else we had been doing all week.
At the end of the day, we saw a young woman who we immediately diagnosed with symptoms of cholera. We treated her with antibiotics and three liters of IV fluid and sent her home with oral rehydration solutions, antibiotics and other medications to help her combat the disease.
The members of Team Haiti Hurricanes came together to help those in need, working together under very tough conditions and we are grateful for their dedication, skills, passion, and patient advocacy.
“Being a middle-class white kid, white privilege has been the norm in my life and I don’t deny it, but because of my lucky fortune in life, I got to go to a place where I had the opportunity to feel truly part of humanity and the people of Haiti gave me something that I will treasure forever.” Haiti volunteer Emma. Read her account of her experience in Haiti.