Thursday, February 25, 2010

Blogging from Haiti

Dr. Mike Howard - one of our plastic surgeons, is live-blogging from Haiti. Here's a sample:
Looking at the historical course of cases here has been quite interesting. The quake occured on 12 January. Most amputees relate their first operation was not until 19, 20 or 21 January. Most ex-fixes went on between 22 Jan and 3 Feb. There will be a huge need here in 3-4 weeks just taking off exfixes. The scene is bad now 6 weeks out; I cant imagine the traumatic, mangled extremity scene the first week post quake. Thousands of crushes untreated for days.

Many of our current surgical cases are dealing with complications of prior surgeries. It is at first tempting to say "what were they thinking, doing that?" But, stepping back, imagining the scene and realizing that there was no way of knowing if they or the patient would ever get another chance. It was essentially 4 weeks of damage control surgery. It is amazing that the first groups in, did so much, so well. For the most part.

Case in point: one of my wound patients was admitted, seizing, 4 weeks ago (about 14 days post quake). In the ER, Dr. Ken was about to give him some ativan when a nurse injected the contents of another syringe into the patient. Penicillin. The guy survived his full blown tetnus (Ed's note: types like me) episode and looks great.
And from Wednesday's post:
Got an email last pm from a friend saying, "wow, it must be depressing."

Quite the opposite.

Yes, there is an amazing amt of destruction. The death toll is staggering. The poverty is everywhere. People living in the streets with nowhere to go or tents in front of their houses, afraid to go back inside. Corruption rivaling that of Chicago - maybe worse. The trauma fresh on the peoples faces and bodies. A generation of amputees in a country with zero handicap accessibility.

But, in the midst of all that, the sun is shining beautifully, the orphans at our hospital are truely smiling. The Haitian people are so friendly and appreciative. The volunteers are coming from everywhere, some alone, some by the bus load.
Health care doesn't get better than this. Nice work, Mike.


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