August 14 the day of the 7.2 earthquake, we received our first victim at 5PM. From that point on we have been working around the clock. People started arriving like a tropical downpour. We immediately held an emergency meeting with the Chiefs of Service. In the next three hours we fast tracked the renovation of the new ward that we were planning to open in a few months. Our staff cleaned the area and prepared 22 beds with mattresses and clean white sheets. The construction crew came in and repaired the floor where conduits were being installed and cemented in the tiles so we could roll gurneys through. Our local staff has done an amazing job of rising to the occasion. Nurses, doctors and support staff have been doing everything possible to organize ourselves, triage patients, and facilitate life-saving operations. As the evening progressed more and more patients arrived. I operated until about 3am and Dr. Jimmy our general surgeon finished around sunrise. The last two days we have continued running all three operating rooms at full capacity.
At this point our hospital is overflowing. There are patients on the floor and outside with only pieces of cardboard to lie on. It has been raining most of today and people are struggling to take cover. The mortality from this quake is 1/100 of the 2010 quake and damages were not in our immediate area. The earthquake was in the southern part of Haiti a few hours away. However, we have received a disproportionate number of earthquake victim patients. Once people heard we were offering care they started coming. Victims can get to us without having to pass through the area in Haiti called Martissant, a highly feared region due to gang warfare. Fortunately, some of the gangs have declared a ceasefire for humanitarian reasons which does allow people to pass through this area more easily.
I am happy to report that the infrastructure and the staff at our hospital are well prepared to aid in this crisis. Patients are getting proper pre-operative evaluations, being registered with patient numbers, and are being processed in a much more organized fashion than before. We are seeing many of the same types of crush injuries and all types of fractures that were seen here in 2010. Up to this point we have not needed to perform a single amputation. Previously there was a much higher need for one-and-done operations, however we now have improved long-term follow up, ability to do secondary procedures and a rehab team.
HAH is providing patient care for earthquake victims at no charge. We have kept records of all care that has been provided and will be using donations to Amistad marked ‘Haiti Earthquake”(or the equivalent) for covering the costs of their care.