Ian is off campus today in Port Au Prince meeting with officials at the US Embassy. At this time we are trying to improve coordination efforts with other organizations providing aid to the people of Haiti.
As this disaster unfolds we are confronted with very significant problems. Because of the widespread devastation inflicted on Port Au Prince, large numbers of people are migrating away from the damaged areas, and in many cases are returning to their childhood homes or to live with relatives. Recent estimates show that up to 1 million people are leaving Port Au Prince and that approximately 70,000 are projected to return to the Artibonite Valley near our hospital. We expect that many of these people will require medical attention as they may have untreated injuries. As we brace for this next wave, we are continuing to strengthen supply lines and treat the hundreds of patients already admitted to the hospital.
A second issue that we are facing is the need for rehabilitation services. This is best described by Dr. Katy Close, a volunteer internist who is currently serving at HAS:
I’m writing to you from the Hopital Albert Schweitzer (HAS) in Haiti. I consider myself blessed to be here, but if you saw what I have seen these last few days, you might well feel otherwise. I have been coming to Haiti to work at the hospital here for years, but never have I seen such wretchedness, misery and despair. It is difficult to describe.
The essence of it is that, in the wake of the terrible earthquake, the hospital now has many amputees, quadriplegics and paraplegics.We deal here with every kind of misery there is – and Haiti is never in short supply of that.
Currently HAS is simply not set up to accommodate the large numbers of patients who need services to recuperate and retrain so that they can cope with the challenges of everyday life in Haiti. In 2007 HAS initiated a Rehabilitation Technician Training Program which has now graduated the first group of students, but the demand will be far greater as a result of the earthquake. We are currently reaching out to our community of medical professionals, volunteers and donors to assist in creating a solution for this very critical need.