from John Heimerl, MD, 3rd year pediatrics resident at University of Minnesota:
Another week has passed here in Haiti. It has been a busy week.
Since my trip to Saint Damien's overlapped with the team from Brown University, I was put to work in one of the hospital wards for the week.
Initially, I was working with Dr. Vaz from Brown University.
We divided the patients up and tended to them one by one.
Seeing patients in the Orange Room on the wards at St. Damien's Hospital for Children
By the end of the week, I had developed quite a relationship with the parents and patients. A few of the children have been here for months.
The girls' room has a three year old with cardiomyopathy and TB who has been in the hospital for more than six months.
A few of the days she would sit on my lap as I worked my way through the charts.
Another girl had a right-sided empyema with a chest tube in place. After having the tube in for a week we got a CXR, and it showed no change. While the chest tube and collection system are the same we would use back home, there was no suction attached to the reservoir to assist with draining her plural fluid.
After she had had a few days of fever while on broad spectrum antibiotics and I had realized no more fluid was draining via gravity, I decided to see what I could pull out with gentle suction and a 60cc syringe.
Thirty-five mL of purulent fluid later, she was feeling much better and has actually continued to drain into the reservoir.
Following morning ward duty, I've spent afternoons assisting in the urgents (ER), where we are seeing all sorts of pathology--things I will never see in the U.S.
A few of the patients I have seen this week include a girl with CXR consistent with miliary TB as well as malnutrition of all sorts, from kwashiorkor to extreme marasmus.
One child I admitted over the weekend was 16 months old and was on breastmilk till 1 year of age, then apparently was fed cookies and juice. My interpreter made it clear to me that is was not "natural juice", which I thought was slightly humorous, as the nutrition value would still be minimal. Needless to say, this child should improve with proper nutrition, and along the way we will ensure the family receives some education.
A few patients have not made it.
On Saturday a six year old with pneumonia experienced complete respiratory failure.
I taught a Haitian medical student, who happened to have been walking by the boy's bed, to properly bag mask, then gathered the necessary intubation supplies and determined how to operate the ventilator. The intubation actually went remarkably well, however, I discovered that I had not paid enough attention to the respiratory therapists back home, and I didn't properly secure the tube.
The episode seems to have been a good learning experience, both for the med student and the nurses, though unfortunately, as expected, this child did not survive.
I did think it was a start at transitioning to the next level of care, and hopefully over the next couple of weeks, we can continue to teach the nurses.
I have had the opportunity to do a couple of day trips on my days off.
Last week I went with the Brown team to the beach.
Friday, I took a half day and was driven around the city.
Public transportation in Haiti is called a "tap-tap".
We drove by the National Cathedral, which lays in ruins from the earthquake.
After the drive we had a wonderful, authentic Haitian lunch...
...topped off with fresh sugar cane.
Sunday I had the day off and went to the Kenscoff Orphanage for the 25th anniversary of NPFS (Nos Petit Freres et Soeurs, "Our Little Brothers and Sisters") the organization that supports St. Damien's and multiple orphanages.
Father Rick (pictured) and the archbishop attended the anniversary celebration.
Kenscoff is a breathtaking mountain retreat from the city. We made the trip with children from another orphanage that's located next to Saint Damien's.
This amazing view was taken from Kenscoff Orphanage, looking out over the adjacent hillside.
Following mass there was entertainment and dancing.