Helping at the United Nations

In-Hospital.jpg

Tent #1 at the UN Field Hospital (where I worked my first night)

It has been a long but intense day. We started out by going to the UN field hospital to tell them that we thought we had a workable solution for the lack of operating rooms. All we needed was to have an engineer certify the building as safe. At the UN they were excited but they sent us on a bit of a wild goose chase looking for an engineer.

Later we came back to the UN for the Health Care Cluster Meeting. It was a very disorganized and frustrating meeting but we met Chris from Partners in Heath (the organization that the book Mountains Beyond Mountains was written about). Guess what he was? An engineer!! He went after the meeting and certified our building as safe!

I stayed out at the UN while he was inspecting the hospital and met with Stephanie from PIH that was working with the WHO and UN to coordinate the relief work. She was fantastic and had a great understanding of acute disaster relief. She was friends and coworkers with Chris. I ended up staying the night at the UN field hospital where I took on te role of supervisor to give some much needed rest and time for real food to the supervisors. They have done a monumental job under severe conditions.

This evening I helped to amputate the foot of an 11 year old boy but he later died. His mother lost his sister in the quake as well. So sad. I helped to put him in a body bag and we put him in the refer trailer with the other bodies. The smell is horrific and overwhelming. The mother is so destitute that she later asked me to get the money she put under his pillow. It was about 20 Haitian dollars. She was numb and just sat there. Non-verbally I tried to communicate with her that I cared. Our eyes locked and I knew she knew that I cared and that we did all we could.

Without functioning operating rooms many of these people will be dead in a matter of days.

Tomorrow we are going to do what we can to get ours open and King's Hospital. I'm also hoping to do a helicopter survey tomorrow with Stephanie and Bill and perhaps the woman from USAID. As busy and smelly as it is sitting here outside the UN hospital, I know I will never be able to comprehend the full scale of this disaster.

I'm grateful for the cool breeze this evening.

Dan www.medicalteams.org

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