Monday, January 31, 2011

Urgent E-Mail from Haitian Physician (Revised)

Rudolphe Richeme, MD
Photo by John Carroll

I have had the opportunity to work at Hopital Lumiere in Bonne Fin, Haiti off and on for the past 15 years.

Hopital Lumiere is up in the mountains on Haiti's southern peninsula.

The people that work in this hospital, the village community of Bonne Fin, and the patients that struggle up and down the mountain roads are salt-of-the-earth people who make Haiti go.

Dr. Rudolph Richeme is the medical director of this facility and he is begging for help. I have known him since he was a medical student and have never seen him so desperate.

Rudolphe is desperate because he hates to see his Haitian brothers and sisters die of neglect and now cholera is taking its toll in the rural mountainous areas like Bonne Fin.

Here is an e mail I received from Rudolphe late last night:

Dearest friends,

I apologize to come back with my younger brother Rodolphe (not to confuse with myself name Rudolph,see my dad Richard for the Richemes names confusion recipe) whom deceased on july the 4th 2009 from an end stage liver failure.But as I received that precious memory song from a precious friend in Myrtle Beach I have to mention that the grace of God is really amazing even with death situation.

When panick is in the air like that I recall Rodolphe who sang 2 days before he died "be still my soul" after he survived 2 days from a coma.

With Haiti's cholera outbreak it expresses how much fragile the human nature is and how much we should anchored our faith in God.

The panick was more at the air on friday afternoon when I was the only doc serving the hospital with 15 cholera patients and 50 in and out patients when my wife called me from Port as Rudlens our 3yo son started running high temperature and vomiting.My wife needed me so bad and she had limited help from my mom for 24h and with the pediatrician call and protocol Rudy2 settled down fortunately later.

Like I said earlier God is good to my family and for you who can be alive today as this week has been 1 of my thoughest experience as doctor beside the earthquake patient management.The medical staff of Hospital Lumiere Bonne Fin(HLBF),hosted this week 24 cholera patients and 10 of that amount is already discharged and 14 actually in the ER with 4 admissions per day and I am actually admiting at 4th patient a 18 y.o.girl, but no hospital death yet fortunately.

Please,I apologize once again not to read this paragraph if you are not tough though it not related to a family member that died:Yesterday while I had the visit of OMS(World heath organization) the scene was more horrible when I had our first cholera death home call visit in Bonne Fin area by our water reservoir for the hospital where I had to help with the post mortem protocol(body bags,chlorox solution,...) ,sanitation of the environnement and education at the community.

It was unbeleivable to see a poor old man (70's)body died upside down with the buckit attached to his buttock from a severe dehydration where the signs and symptoms have started the night before last and didn't give him any chance to see yesterday's sunrise or to benefit hospital care.

I was speechless to see by the cadaver a 7 yo girl related to the old man lying on an assuming bed there conscious but not moving while everybody in the community was so afraid and didn't want to go in the house to rescue the poor child left for hours by the septic cadaver until myself and another employee by 2p.m. of the hospital get her out of there.

The words themselves hurt this is why I didn't take any picture of this tragic scene.
The funeral finally got organized around 6pm.and the old man is the father-in-law of one of our garage employee whom 2 weeks ago had the burrial of his sick mom aswell.

I am indeed pleased by the assistance of MSF crew(doctors without borders) for their education to the hospital staff this week and supplies support to start in Bonne fin the treatment center for cholera with the agreement and support of the government though no personels and financial aren't readily available.

With the MSF(medecins sans frontiere) staff we visited 3 churches today, where we are making campaign to educate the community what is cholera and how we can fight it with hygiene measures and chlorination used.It's a big start though our infrastructures are primitive,we have no other choice than to fight the disease and counting on more support local or outside the country and medical teams education and caring for this abandonned population.

As a new week is on,the death race is still on and I am not spared;but have no doubt that the winners in Christ are already wating for me in Heaven like Rodolphe does as I long to be with him again.

You may delete these bad memories from your emails but this is my story,this is my song and the battle is on and I am on, through the 1 whom strengthens me.

Your servant,



I asked Rudolph if I could publish his e mail above and he answered as follows:

It 's ok with me brother John and the fact that this precious little 10 yo girl that was by his granfather's cholera cadaver too long died last night while I was writing you makes my heart ready to explode like pushing a button to disappear from this dyshumanized earth; such things go beyond hollywood nightmare script,and this makes the call more urgent to all sectors that can support our haitian community as we spend years and years fighting and killing each other for 1 presidential chair and black market trades while the whole population is swimming in mood,feces,hunger,poverty,insecurity and primitive health care system,polluted and risky echosystem.I don't want to be president but I feel more than a president when I can help my brothers and sisters in need.

Only Lord knows why I am still on earth.I just have to respect Lord's creation through the earth but I can see that humans lack too much of heaven's ingredients.

Sorry for my reaction but politicians use poems to destroy a nation to the deepest despair but I use facts and christian parallels to move the earth planet closer to Heaven.


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