Monday, May 10, 2010

"Survived the first night shift."

Dr. Mark Courtney is from Northwestern University and is representing the Chicago Medical response team with International Medical Corps in Haiti. We'll be posting his updates from the field over the next week.

OK. Survived the first night shift.

It's now day 6 in Haiti. Kirk and I were the night doctors and overall had an outstanding experience. We resuscitated a CHF patient who otherwise would have died -- as of this morning they were giving us the thumbs up sign. The usual machete wounds to the scalp were a bit more common at night. There was a case of diphtheria, which is minimal risk to us but maximal risk to Haitians with almost no vaccinations.

Yesterday we saw a kid with a leg fracture happy to be splinted and another standard shoulder dislocation. Unfortunately there was a very sick septic baby who may or may not make it but there is an unbelievable team of pediatricians here from Partners in Health -- many are from Boston Children’s Hospital. Bottom line is there is incredible talent here.

There are plenty more crazy medical stories but I've now really connected with the people here, which is perhaps equally rewarding. For example, our translators are young Haitians hired by International Medical Corps. Many of them live in tents. They speak Creole, French, Spanish and English and most are self taught. One guy is looking for an English slang dictionary to hone his skills. One is working 12 hours nights with us and then is in school during the day and is only 18. They are smart as can be and the hardest working people in hospital. We rely on them massively.

In medicine, without CT scans and blood tests, the history a patient tells you becomes all the more critical. I'm really looking at the positives. There are plenty of kids in school uniforms going to school every morning who are healthy. They hold hands and smile at each other like other kids. Things are clearly better than in the past and better than they could be. I'm just trying to add a bit to that. Sometimes just talking and listening to people is as helpful as medicine and high levels of US style care.

It's raining cats and dogs right now but cooling things off.....

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