Conditions in Haiti Changing Minute by Minute

Over the past month, we've been monitoring reports that are coming back from friends who have been in Haiti providing care to try and get to places away from the hospital and hearing what they have been taking care of.

The medical conditions relating to the immediate effects of the earthquake, including trauma-causing fractures requiring amputations due to infection, are declining, and now complications of those operations are increasing. We’re expecting to see a lot of cellulitis, complicating the wounds, amputations, and the operations. We’re expecting to see what we saw in Katrina when we went there five weeks after the flood, which was people trying to get back into their homes and injuring themselves with those efforts. So, we’re packing splints and slings and materials for strains and sprains and new fractures.

We’re also, in addition to these injuries related to people trying to recover and try and scavenge from their collapsed homes, we also expect to see more and more of the primary care needs that need to be addressed, since the acute injures are declining. Those include untreated diabetes, high blood pressure, heart failure, malnutrition, and many, many baby deliveries. It’s anticipated that 10,000 women will be delivering in this next month, and the hospitals are already overwhelmed, so it’s likely that these folks will deliver in the tent camp where they’re staying. We’re ready to help deliver some of those children.

The situation is so chaotic that—although we have registered with the WHO, which is in the process of certifying us as a registered health relief group, and we would have access to free medications and supplies while in Haiti, friends who have recently come back say that it’s becoming harder and harder to access those resources, even if you are approved; So, we are not expecting to have ready access to re-supply, and we are bringing down thousands of pounds of medical supplies in our commercial luggage.

In addition, we hear that power and electricity is very spotty across the city, and although certain places have come back up on the grid, we are bringing down our own power in the form of We Care Solar suitcases, which produces 300 watts of power from a solar panel. That will be able to power our lights, nebulizers, and EKG. In addition to that power for light and diagnostic and therapeutic equipment, we will have portable lights provided by 20 Bogo lights, which are self-contained solar flashlights that, after a full day’s charge, provide 3 hours of bright light that can fill a room at night. We’re bringing the first 20 Bogo lights into Haiti, and this is the first documented use of the We Care Solar suitcase to provide us with power. These may even be very important during the day because it looks like there may be thunderstorms while we’re there, and we may require light even during the day.

We’ve heard now back from 40 different places that have not received any medical care, since it’s still very limited in the outreach from hospitals, and we’re expecting to find many places that have not had any medical care since the earthquake; and we’re expecting to bring our resources there, which will be unique in that we’ll be responding to the peoples’ need and be able to be more nimble since we’re bringing in our own resources and are independent.

One question right now is whether we can effectively work from Jimani, as we are hearing back from people that the travel from there to Port-Au-Prince is becoming increasingly long because of the amount of traffic and aid workers taking that route. If we can find safe lodging in Port-Au-Prince, we may stay there if we can find assistance from the 82 Airborne, who has extended an interest in helping our team.

There have also been warnings to not eat or drink within eyesight of the Haitians, as thins might put one at risk of being attacked or robbed. And even though we have some donated stuff, we may not even wear our scrubs, because there’s some concern that if we’re seen as medical relief, it may suggest that we have more supplies or resources than other aid workers that they could rob, so we have to watch that carefully. Even though aid workers have not been attacked yet, we’re going to watch that situation carefully.

So, things seem to change minute by minute, and if people have interest in how things are changing, follow us on Facebook as we document every change; we expect that things will probably be very fluid since this is a much worse disaster than any of us have seen before.

Over the past month, we’ve been monitoring reports that are coming back from friends who have been in Haiti providing care to try and get to places away from the hospital and hearing what they have been taking care of.