It was recently announced that a Haitian medical team will be working in Peoria in mid-January 2013. The team will include 17 people including nurses, doctors, cooks, a big crowd-control-man, a podiatrist, and a “leaf doctor” who is described as an "absolute riot".
Dr. Jean-Maxmillian Beauvoir St. Volel ("Dr. Max") is the leader of the team. He sat down with me in Port-au-Prince today which marks the anniversary of the death of the leader of Haiti's revolution for independence, Jean-Jacques Dessalines.
Dr. John: Dr. Max it is nice to see you. Please tell us about yourself.
Dr. Max: Bonjour, Dr. John. I am pleased to tell you that I am a physician here in Haiti having trained at the Papa Doc School of Medicine here in downtown Port-au-Prince. My speciality is Internal Medicine and Tropical Diseases.
Dr. John: How nice. Why did you organize this trip to Peoria? This seems to be unprededented. Dr. Max: (Shifting in his chair) We quite frankly just love the people of the United States. You have helped my country so much during the last two hundred years. You even wrote our Constitution for some unknown reason after your army occupied us in the early 1900’s. And your State Department is extremely efficient at getting rid of our Presidents as necessary and replacing them with people from Boca Raton or somewhere.
Dr. John: I sense you feel sorry for us or something?
Dr. Max: We don’t exactly feel sorry for you, Dr. John. We just worry about you. There is a difference. Let me explain. We know that you have a high pain threshold, but your health indices as a developed country just aren’t that good. 45 million Americans have no health insurance and one American dies every 12 minutes because of that. Did you know that, Dr. John?
Dr. John: Please don’t confuse me with facts. So where do you plan on working in Peoria?
Dr. Max: We will set up in a parking lot somewhere near Taft Homes.
Dr. John: You know that is kinda dangerous there, right?
Dr. Max: (Eyes become slits and moisten with tears, starts to laugh, and his stomach adiposity shakes every which way) Yes, we know, but we are use to these conditions. We will have our machetes with us and I will ask your mayor to tell all Peorians visiting us to leave their guns at home...just like Haiti. I can’t imagine any real problems.
Dr. John: What kind of facility will you work out of in the parking lot?
Dr. Max: We will bring one huge tent, we will have our own cooks, a portable outhouse, and a goat or two.
Dr. John: Well what about the language barrier? You guys speak French and Creole and we barely speak English.
Dr. Max: No pwoblem. We are bringing some interpreters with us who have a very good medical vocabulary. Like you should hear them say: “When was the last time you had dengue fever?” or "When was your last attack of malnutrition?" Stuff like that.
Dr. John: I would expect massive crowds to visit you each morning. How will you manage the crowd waiting to be seen and examined by the Haitian doctors and nurses? Our crowds can get unruly.
Dr. Max: Good question, Dr. John. But we are ready. We have already cut some wicked branches off of Haiti’s ten remaining trees and will use them on the backs of Peorians as necessary to keep control. This technique in Haiti works extremely well. Actually, you all taught us how well this works. Should not be a big deal...
Dr. John: You know, Dr. Max, it is going to be cold in Peoria in January. At least I think it is. Are you ready for that?
Dr. Max: How cold? We brought sweaters.
Dr. John: What kind of medicine are you bringing the needy people of Taft Homes?
Dr. Max: We have 13 large green army bags of medicine that we are packing right now. They are full of very helpful things like cough and cold medications for babies, tons of tylenol, two types of worm medication, chloroquine for malaria, gallons of antacids, and if anyone has hypertension, I think we have some blood pressure medication. Should be good to go.
Dr. John: Dr. Max, what will you do if you examine someone and they obviously have problems that need inpatient care in a hospital?
Dr. Max: We have that covered too. We have a grant to purchase three large green wheelbarrows from Nena True Value in Peoria.
Dr. John: Why the wheelbarrows?
Dr. Max: Good question. If the patient is too sick to walk to one of your three fine medical centers, we will plop the patient in one of the wheelbarrows and convince some of your young strong men to push them to the hospital. This seems to work in Haiti just fine.
Dr. John: This is kind of a personal question. But none of your team would think about defecting would they?
Dr. Max: Let me be very clear here: I just don’t know.
Dr. John: Dr. Max, we can hardly wait for your arrival in Peoria.
Dr. Max: It is our pleasure. (Laughing) As you would say, “It is the least we can do”.
John A. Carroll, MD