Notes on Haiti - CEO Journal Part 19

Note: While Scripps continues to serve a medical mission to Haiti, Scripps CEO Chris Van Gorder is writing updates about medical aid in progress, conditions on the ground and what can be done to help earthquake victims. For other journal entries, see the Haiti news page.

As you know, our third team left San Diego for Haiti last Thursday, Feb. 25. They did not have “smooth going” on their way to Miami — which was the stopping point before the final flight into Port-au-Prince on Friday. Unfortunately, weather and air traffic issues caused a 4-plus hour delay in Texas, so the team did not arrive in Miami until after midnight Thursday morning, making for a very short night of sleep before the final flight.

The team took with them more than 700 pounds of supplies to make sure that they would be effective in the fast-track area of the hospital. They wanted me to pass on their thanks to all of the people from supply chain, Campus Point, IS, legal, disaster management, pharmacy and other departments for helping with the deployment.

The team arrived safely in Haiti on Thursday morning, Feb. 25, and the transportation we arranged was on scene. The team was taken to the compound of the Papal Nuncio, Mgr. Bernardino Auza, where housing arrangements had also been made. You might remember that the Nuncio has been a critical part of our missions to Haiti and he continues to provide much of the support we need for a successful mission.

Patty Skoglund sent me the following notes from Haiti:

“Well, this is the first time I have had a chance to sit down with internet connection. I miss you guys lots. The hospital has made great improvement as far as patient care areas. USAIDE built large wooden frames with tarps to cover all wards and wound care. The fast track area is now where Ward 1 used to be. We have a tent across the way for ob/gyn, so we are alongside the wound care area.

“The University of Maryland team has been really nice and the new chief is wonderful. Our team is doing great. We came into the hospital on Friday afternoon around 3 when things were winding down and gave the new Scripps Team a tour. Then, we came back on Saturday and saw only 30 patients. I mentioned to them that Monday will be very busy but I don’t think they understood “busy” until we walked in today and there were 200 people waiting to be seen. I wish I could have taken a picture of their faces. We went right to work and the first three hours were a bit of a struggle trying to get organized — but within a short while everyone was moving along. It is now 3 p.m. and we are down to the last 50 people. We had to strongly encourage taking a water and lunch break, but everyone did and felt much better after.

“We have one team member who feels a bit under the weather with traveler’s illness. We won’t mention any names, but he’s dealing with it and has remained extremely busy. Our focus here is still surgery, but only doing 5-8 cases a day. The main focus now is wound care and fast track: lots of kids, chronic illness out of control, female infections, malnutrition, and malaria. We are waiting for someone coming to the hospital for a delivery. We’re hoping it goes to the general hospital, because we don’t have neonatal care.

“Well, gotta go. There is still a need here today for our team. Talk to you soon, Patty”

John Armstrong sent the following note on Monday:

“Hey Chris, you’d be proud of our team. They quickly organized in a larger area, and are now caring for more than a hundred men, women, and kids lined up for care. We also have a photojournalist with us. He’s attached to Cardinal O’Malley, Boston, and is visiting with the Nuncio tonight. Also the Haitian President.

“Today is a hard day, very busy as I said. The care is shifting to infectious diseases, malnutrition and related issues. I’m doing vitals and labs, and everyone is pitching in.”

At the end of the day, John relayed the following:

“Busy day: we saw 142 patients, 36 of which were OB. The rest were through the fast track ER.

There are a lot of stress-related symptoms in the ER; also fever, rash, gastrointestinal.

Even though the patients wait a long time, they’re patient and very appreciative.”

In the interest of time, I’ll leave it at that for today and report more to you soon. As you can see, our mission has not ended in Haiti. Though the type of care needed is changing as we get further from the date of the earthquake, we are still responding to this devastating disaster — and still making a significant difference in many people’s lives.

Thank you again for all the support you’ve shown and continue to show.

Chris Van Gorder

See the Haiti news page for other journal entries.