Upper West Side CERT

Our Man in Haiti – Part 2

It has been nearly a month since Haiti was struck by the 7.0 earthquake that leveled huge swaths of the island, including its capital of Port-au-Prince. Haitian officials estimate the death toll at 200,000. Millions are homeless. Haitian expats in New York and other locations around the world continue to search for word from loved ones lost.

Haiti hospital triage

Hospital triage; hundreds line up each day to be seen.

The rescue effort, which turned up some 100,000 bodies, ended a week ago. The rest, possibly half, of those who died may never be accounted for.

The recovery, after a chaotic start, is picking up steam. We’re told that food, water, and medical supplies are starting to get through, and that things are becoming, not normal, but what they’re going to be for a long time to come: a massive, long-term operation to rebuild and recover.

After writing last week about our team member, George Contreras, who is in Haiti heading up an eleven-person medical team, we wanted the next updates to be from the man himself.

January 31, 2010

Communication is still spotty so I thought I would send you something today…

We are still seeing acute emergencies, e.g., a man with a fractured leg that was starting to have gangrene, a woman with a previous amputation that needed subsequent care and additional amputation. However, with a breakdown in the health care system, we’re seeing many more chronic health cases.

As part of the mobile clinics and scouting missions, [we’re seeing] some patients [that] are receiving care for the very first time since January 12th’s earthquake.

Water and food is decreasing for the general population. A clear lack of coordination is evident partly because of the significant impact suffered by the UN mission and partially because of the previously existing poor infrastructure.

There are over 240 non-governmental organizations currently operations in Haiti. The communication and coordination among them is poor, which just adds to the chaos.

I will provide more reports and possible pictures later tonight or tomorrow for sure.

Let me know if you get this email.

February 3, 2010

Yesterday was an interesting day. Another medic and myself triaged 500 patients at a local hospital. The majority of patients had non-earthquake illnesses but were eager to receive some level of medical care for free at the hospital.

My mobile medical team also traveled to Cité Soleil, one of the worst slums in the western hemisphere, to provide medical attention. Our multidisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, paramedics, and physician assistants certainly made an impact on these people’s lives. Our makeshift clinic even had to transport six critical patients to the hospital, including a woman whose water broke during transportation.

We will continue to go to those areas where the need is greatest. At all times, however, we have a number one priority: our personal safety! This high level of safety is made possible by the ever watchful and heavily-armed 82nd Airborne men and women! We most definitely could not do this work without their protection.

Til next time.

February 6, 2010

NYC Medics continues to operate in Haiti by providing mobile medical clinics in areas not reached by other NGOs. Today we were in Cité Soleil again and saw close to 400 persons with various injuries. Almost half of that number were children.

I was touched by the genuine compassion demonstrated by my colleagues in the sweltering heat. I saw my team dripping with sweat and their sunburned necks and faces. They were all eager to provide this much needed assistance. Again, our mobile outreach would not be possible without the efforts of the 82nd Airborne who provided security all day.

Although Cité Soleil has been cited as one of the world’s worst slums, the people were very thankful and respectful. The children even broke out in chant at various points in the day. In the end, I think that today was a very good day as we saw and treated people who others did not want to see.

I attached a few pics from today. One of them includes a team photo.

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