January 13, 2010
Ian Rawson, HAS Managing Director on the ground in Deschapelles, provided this snapshot of conditions:
Ever since early this morning, a steady stream of vehicles, mainly the open-back pickups which serve as public taxis on Haiti’s roads, has come to the front of the hospital. In the back are one or two people, their legs or arms covered in bandages or clothes. HAS security staff rush out to the truck with a backboard or gurney, and bring the patient inside to be triaged by the emergency team.
Now, in early afternoon, a crowd of over 200 people are outside the hospital, friends or neighbors of injured patients. They rush to the arriving trucks and try to help to carry the new patients inside. Occasionally, the combination of the person’s injuries and the truck ride are more than can be sustained by the patient, and the family members, with great wailing, adapt to the shock of the loss of a loved one. A sound system has been set up outside, so that family members may be called into the hospital to meet with doctors.
Each patient is brought into the Observation Unit and quickly evaluated. Some are sent to for an X-Ray or lab test while others are taken immediately to the holding area outside surgery, where both operating rooms are being used full time.
All beds have been pressed into use, and still there are patients on benches. Gradually, some of the early arrivals and less injured are prepared for discharge.
Systems at HAS are working well; preparation and practice have paid off. The greatest resource, however, is the dignity and grace of people who have suffered a great shock and sometimes tragedy, and remain calm and show concern not just for the people with whom they have come here, but for others as well.
This is the most serious challenge ever faced by HAS in its 54-year history, and while we are currently coping with the onslaught of the injured, we urgently need support.
At this moment, we don’t have the capability to accept material goods or personnel. Our greatest and most urgent need is for funds to pay wages to our dedicated staff, and to buy replacement medicines and supplies.
We will update the www.hashaiti.org website with news of relief efforts. To make a donation that will have immediate impact, please go to www.hashaiti.org.
HAS deeply appreciates the many expressions of help and caring that are coming from around the globe.