By Dr. Jill Ratner
Like many of my trips, this trip was incredibly diverse and packed with plans and accomplishments. Besides myself, the only person who had previously worked on a medical trip to Haiti was Andrea Lotze, a neonatologist. Our other team members were Lauren Blum, a pediatric nurse practitioner, Marsha Morton, a registered nurse, John Katzenstein, who works at the NY State attorney general’s office and is a member of the Somers Rotary Club, Joel Seligman, the Chief Executive Officer at Northern Westchester Hospital, and David Seligman, an administrator at New York University Hospital.
We had several goals on this mission: conducting Pediatric clinics at Open Door Clinic and the clinic in Shada, educating residents and staff at two hospitals, Justinien and Haiti Hospital Appeal, in both Pediatrics and Neonatology; and to interface with hospital and clinic administrators to explore ways of supporting their work. In addition, John’s interest in small business and microfinance was a great fit to work with Sonje Ayiti, an organization supporting business for Haitians and with whom we have collaborated in the past.
While in Port au Prince, we visited TOYA, an organization associated with Litworld, of which Lauren is a board member, and a free school, supported by John and the Rotary Club of Somers. We were inspired by the inquisitiveness and goal oriented questions and dialogue with a group of young women. They are interested in us returning and doing educational sessions related to health.
On Sunday we were fortunate to have Wayne Chinook, a professional photographer, join our team for the week. Wayne volunteered his services to Hands Up for Haiti as part of his ongoing commitment to donate his time and talents to document the work of non -profits in Haiti. The photos included here are thanks to his generosity. See this link for all the amazing photos. 50% of sales of these photos go directly to Hands Up for Haiti:
We traveled on to CAP and toured hospital Fort St. Michel with Dr. Joanne Trevant as our guide, and visited Justinien Hospital, meeting with Dr. St. Fleur and Dr Zephyr, the head of resident education. It was clear that Fort St. Michel is a promising location for future collaboration with HUFH.
Dr. Andrea Lotze, a neonatologist, made a significant connection with the residents at Justinien. She was impressed by their commitment to learning and they appreciated her spending three days with them sharing skills in neonatal resuscitation and care. Not only did she hold teaching sessions on topics such as the treatment of hypoglycemia and the thermoregulation of premature babies, but she also worked with the staff on parent education and empowerment which will significantly improve the care of premature infants at Justinien. She was welcomed and invited back in the future.
On Monday I held classes with the staff and nursing students at Haiti Hospital Appeal. In the morning I talked about diarrhea and dehydration and in the afternoon reviewed pathophysiology of respiration at birth. I rounded on patients with the Haitian doctor in the clinic as well.
Tuesday we went to the clinic at Shada, where we set up a triage person, a weighing and measuring team, and a station for Lauren, our nurse practitioner, and I to see patients. Marsha put her nursing skills to work helping all of us.
On a Hands Up for Haiti mission everyone pitches in to help, and in a departure from his usual administrative duties at home, Joel Seligman acted as our assistant, weighing and measuring children and triaging patients along with two members of the British HHA team that were staying with us.
After clinic, we met with Miguel-ange, the clinic administrator, and discussed some of the management issues of the clinic as well as the malnutrition program.
Wednesday and Thursday were clinic days at Open Door. At both Open Door and Shada we saw pneumonia, bronchiolitis, diarrheal illness, scabies, T. capitus, and skin infections. Simultaneously with all these activites, David and Joel met with the administration at Justinien, HHA, Shada and Open Door.
While at Open Door, we saw severe malnutrition in two families and we received a full report on the “Medicine and Food for Kids” program we support at Open Door from our nurse, Marie Lucie, who has set up a model program and excellent records. We were able to attend the Cap Haitien Health Care Network Meeting where HUFH was applauded for its work and approached repeatedly to work at clinics in the area.
On Friday we proceeded with our trip back to PAP, where we visited the school sponsored by the Rotary Club of Somers. The day culminated with a ribbon cutting ceremony for their new container based school classrooms.
So this was our agenda and our travels. What this doesn’t contain is the stories- the touching moments and the interventions.