Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Haiti's Dark Night--- December 8, 2010

Photo by John Carroll

I just left the Cholera Treatment Center (CTC).

It is 9:15 PM.

The CTC takes on a new look after the sun sets.

A pastor came into the CTC tonight and preached as many family members huddled around their loved ones and sang religious songs. The patients that I gave enough fluid to today, slowly waved both hands in the air thanking God that they survived another day. The patients still low on fluids, just stared at what was happening around them.

This morning I was able to get from my guesthouse to the CTC on a motorcycle driven by a very skilled operator.

We maneuvered through the back roads of Laplaine and onto Route 9 for a couple of miles. Only one car was on Route 9 as we headed north.

We turned onto a dirt road when we reached Siebert and went about a mile. Some men stopped us and kindly informed us that there we were going to run into a road block up ahead and so we should be ready.

My motorcycle chauffer stopped for a few minutes but we decided to press forward.

As we went further down the road, we could see a group of men were piling stones on the road and tires were on fire in front of us. So we turned around and went back several hundred yards and considered the plan again.

A middle aged Haitian man named Caleb approached us as we were gathering our thoughts and said that we would have no problem passing the barricade down the road and to go with him. So we drove slowly as Caleb marched along side of us.

Caleb calmly told us to get off the motorcycle as we neared the men. We did what he said and walked through a field on the side of the road with the motorcycle. We kept Caleb in our view as he stayed on the road.

Caleb motioned for us to come back to the road.

Men were rolling more tires to the fire and Caleb explained to them that I was going to the CTC (I won't name which one) and to let us through.

They didn't bother us at all and we jumped back on the bike and drove around the burning tires and rock barricade in the road.

Acutally, my driver was lost at that point, but I recognized where we were and with a few questions of people sitting on their stoops, we arrived at the CTC in fine fashion.

The CTC was actually inundated with typical cholera patients. The cholera doctor who usually works the clinic did not try to make it to the CTC because of the street violence today. Only two of our four nurses showed up today, but two other nurses were recruited from the adjacent hospital.

Our CTC is very short on IV Ringer's solution. And I think that we get behind on our patients. By that I mean, I think that we are not hitting them as hard as we should with enough IV fluid because we are trying to ration the IV solution. And no matter how much I holler about drinking oral rehydration solution to the patients and their families, this is hard to make happen for many reasons.

We need more IV solution quickly. Many of these cholera patients are in shock and they need lots of fluid very fast. If they get the fluids, they survive.

Two of my patients today are Haitian-Americans. One is very ill with a systolic blood pressure of 60 mm Hg.

As the sun was starting to go down late this afternoon, I called a couple of Haitian contacts and they told me not to come back tonight because of the disorder on the streets in Port-au-Prince.

So I am holed up in an on-call room in the local hospital and the Haitian physician on call here is kind enough to let me use his laptop.

The World Health Organization could not deliver IV solution to us today. Bottom line, more IV fluids need to come in to this CTC very quickly or many lives will be lost that should not be lost.

Port-au-Prince was shut down today by fear.

The political unrest and violence in Haiti is hurting everyone, especially these fragile cholera patients.

The NYT's published this article today.

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