Wednesday, March 4, 2015

It’s 5:00 am and the team is getting ready to head off on our next adventure. After some minor transportation setbacks, we hit the road on our highly anticipated ROAD TRIP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The destination, Belavere, was 3.5 hours away from where we’re staying. Not gonna lie, the time commitment was a little daunting at first. Turns out driving for hours when you get to look out big windows at some of the most gorgeous views of your life isn’t so bad! Our early departure let us enjoy a beautiful sunrise, followed by the hustle and bustle of Port-Au-Prince before we ventured into the mountains through the Central Plateau. Every area of Haiti we’ve been to so far has a special beauty, but this was unlike anything we’d seen. Lush mountains and valleys surrounded us as the busses drove up into the mountains. Picture sunny mountains with a tropical vibe—it was perfect. The road we took from Port Au Prince up to Belavere was impressive—nicely paved, quit different than the rocky, potholed dirt roads that fill most of the country. The road was built in the past few years, and is a major step in increasing accessibility within the country. The long trip also gave us plenty of time for some extra team bonding, which is always nothing but tons of fun! When we finally arrived at our clinic spot, we were excited to begin another day of precious time with our patients, interpreters, attendings, and each other 🙂

But let’s back up to this morning, around 5:20 AM, when I woke up on the floor to someone shouting my name and trying to wake me up. You see, shortly after rising, having a bit of coffee, and starting off our early day, I found myself unconscious, having fainted outside my room. Several of our wonderful teammates worked to evaluate me and confirm that there wasn’t anything particularly wrong with me, getting me stabilized before we got on the road. Unfortunately, the illness did not abate, and I struggled with nausea the whole way to Belavere (and believe me, it was a long journey). But I couldn’t have had better care. Our doctors ran me some medicines, our naturopathic nurse ran me some herbal oils (which were the best remedy of the day), and our HCM family kept me hydrated with fluids and encouraged me through the day. As we arrived in the city, we realized that I was not alone, as another of our teammates had fallen ill with a similar disease. The two of us tried to power through, her more successfully than I, and we alternated between trying to be of help and trying to survive the next hour. While no more fainting spells occurred, we struggled through the rest of the way, ultimately both of us crashing into bed as soon as we returned to HCM late that night. It’s amazing how helpless you feel in the midst of sickness, which reminded me of how much of a blessing it is to be able to serve patients in the midst of their disease. While we’re never sure just how much our short-term medications are able to do, this experience brought to mind that the care and attention we provide is appreciated in ways we may never know. But I’m getting ahead of myself. There’s a whole day of clinic that occurred while I was in a bit of a haze…

Once we had completed our journey into the central plateau we found that our clinic sight for the day seemed to be tailor made for our group. The community leaders had arranged individual clinic rooms for each attending, our pharmacy, patient stations and a large triage area complete with patients lined up and ready to be seen. The clinic day started fast, as usual, and continued smoothly as our team has become a well-oiled machine at this point in the week. Students at every level of learning continued to find their voice and hone their clinical skills with diseases ranging from the acute to chronic; the common to the occasional “zebra.” Before we could stop to truly enjoy the surrounding lush country side it was time for clinic to end and our next adventure to begin.

To finish off our amazing day we visited the Partners in Health Hospital, and it was truly an amazing experience. This was one of the most impressive infrastructures that I’ve ever seen in Haiti. The building itself was beautiful, but the most amazing part was the idea behind the building and the hope that came with it. Behind the 220 beds overall (300+ beds in the next year), 18 bed NICU (which doubled the amount of NICU beds in the country), 6 ORs (which are large enough to accommodate all major surgeries), and 20 bed ER (which is staffed by the first class of Haitian EM residents) were board certified professionals who were contributing their expertise and knowledge to the Haitian people. The idea behind this is to eventually work themselves out of a job by enabling the Haitian professionals take over. I’ve never felt more hopeful for the future of Haiti, this is definitely a giant leap in the right direction.

Jonathan, Ralph, Morgan, & Pamela