Gressier-Mobile Clinic

Tuesday Feb 16

Today we spent the day with the members of FNJD (Federation National de la Jeunesse pour le Development) running a mobile clinic in a tent camp in the town of Gressier, just outside of Port au Prince.  It is a camp inside a walled school yard, with approximately 2500 people living in tents.  Oxfam has provided a giant bladder with potable water,which is nearly empty, and many green tarps for people to construct their shelter.  Their is a strong sense of community that has developed there.
We were a team of 4 providers (3 MDs and myself), 6 nurses doing vitals, and a large team of support people doing pharmacy and other tasks.  I worked alongside a Haitian physician in a small, unlit office, seeing patients from 11 am until after 4 pm without a break.  I saw 65 patients myself, and altogether we saw nearly 300.  Most were not seriously ill or injured, although I saw 2 probable fractures (ankle and wrist) that had not been evaluated until today, and Joe accompanied one doctor to see a 17 year old boy who had a wound infection at an amputation site of his leg.  But most were aches and pains, skin rashes, and difficulty sleeping and eating.  Many recognized their symptoms were related to the stress of the situation, and unfortunately we had nothing to offer them.  For pain we had ibuprofen, and some antihistaminics, but nothing for scabies, and certainly nothing for anxiety and depression.  I encouraged alll to talk to each other as the only possible therapy at this time.

We were met afterwards by Fred Cheron, my friend from Duchity who is helping the coffee project, and we went out to dinner at a nice restaurant in Petionville, where life goes on as if nothing has happened.  We met another medical team that is working at the University of Miami hospital established at the airport and heard stories of children with amputations and head wounds on respirators and 2 nurses for 20+ patients.  In that setting the acuity is grave.  But in the camps, where people are somehow living, life has found some “normality” to it.  It is quite remarkable what people can go through, what they can put up with, and their tremendous resilience to go on.

Tomorrow we will travel to Duchity and learn how people in the countryside are helping the recovery.