By Mary Ann LoFrumento MD
It had finally stopped raining and the floodwaters were receding from the city and the countryside. As team leader, I breathed a sigh of relief. We had held one large pediatric outreach clinic the day before but the week was only half over and we needed to find more locations. We reached out through the Cap Haitien Health Network, an organization linking many of the health related groups working in Northern Haiti. Within a few hours, we had two locations identified in desperate need of medical care.
Both were small clinics, so we decided to divide the team and our medical supplies. Dr. Hemant Kairam and Dr. Ann Engelland led the team to Ft. Bourgeois, a struggling medical clinic on the road to the Royal Caribbean port of Labadee. The doctor in charge of the clinic, Dr. Renaud Gerve, was glad to see the team and immediately mobilized the community.
The team now knew how to set up a pediatric clinic in any location and immediately went to work. Within a few minutes, they had a triage team and registration, two to three stations with a doctor, nurse and translator, and a pharmacy.
Respiratory illnesses are commonly seen, especially if a baby has underlying condition such as asthma. Often these sensitive lungs are irritated by smoke from poorly ventilated cooking areas in small homes. Our team educates the families after treating the children on how to avoid these attacks.
Over the day, the team saw about 90 children and left medical supplies and medications for the clinic at Ft. Bourgeois. Dr. Gerve was so grateful and sent a message to the Cap Haitien Network, reporting that the Hands Up for Haiti team came after the flooding and helped reopened our clinic. “We are so grateful.”
Meanwhile all the way on the other side of the city, team number two visited a small clinic run by one amazing nurse in the Madeleine area of Cap Haitien. Converted from a home to a clinic with the pharmacy in the garage, she sees patients in this underserved neighborhood a few days a week. When not working here, Nurse Carole sees patients at another HUFH location at Jolitrou, a clinic in a rural area where we have one of our malnutrition programs.
A highlight of this clinic was the lab technician who sets up a small lab complete with microscope to run some simple lab tests. Pediatric resident, Priya Soni, who plans to do a Pediatric Infectious Disease fellowship after she graduates in June, was thrilled to be able to do hands on lab work to identify pathogens. As a Global Health educator, it was so gratifying to see the excitement of my residents being able to do field work.
This smaller team saw about 4o children that day, but an important connection was made. Nurse Carole who no longer needs the home decided to rent the space to Hands Up for Haiti as an office with enough space to store supplies.
The team was now ready for anything and feeling very good about their ability to set up and run a pediatric clinic anywhere. Tomorrow, our last day to see patients, would provide yet another challenge: Next part: Mission with the UN Peacekeepers.