Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Mathematics of Donations published an article today explaining how the mathematics of donations favor cash contributions over goods. Good but misplaced intentions can "hinder even the most ambitious recovery efforts."

"From volunteer medical teams who show up uninvited, to stateside donors who ship boxes of unusable household goods, misdirected compassion can actually tax scarce resources, costing time, money, energy -- and lives."

"Old clothes, canned goods, water and outdated prescriptions are accumulating" but are "expensive to sort, to transport and to distribute."

Aid organizations like Project Medishare are encouraging cash donations that allow them to "buy in bulk from large suppliers and retailers."

"When people give $1, it translates into $7 in the field. If they spend $5 for bottled water, [...] probably it costs us more than $5 to send it. If they give us $5, we can get $35 worth of water."

Donors should take the time to research NGOs and check for their 501.3 status. Sites like GuideStar and Charity Navigator are great places to investigate the legitimacy of an NGO.

Also in high demand are skilled healthcare professionals, preferably with a language background in Creole or French and with prior experience in disaster relief efforts or in developing nations.

To read the complete article at please click here.

If you would like to donate to Project Medishare, please click here.

If you are a healthcare professional who would like to volunteer with Project Medishare, please click here.

Tamaqua, PA Newspaper Coverage

Dr. Vanek, a native of Tuscarora, PA has been making headlines in his hometown newspaper, Times News.

Click here to read the paper's first article covering Dr. Vanek's planned trip to Haiti.

Click here to read staff writer Bob Urban's suggestion that the Tamaqua Area School District invite Dr. Vanek to speak at this year's commencement ceremonies.

Click here to read the newspaper's coverage of Dr. Vanek's return home. "No matter how much I did, there was more to do." "They need doctors and nurses. People are needed there right now."

Friday, January 29, 2010

Thank You Letter from Dr. Fitzgerald

Dear family and friends,

I can hardly begin to tell you how happy I am to be back home. Haiti was a life-changing experience I will never forget. I am so grateful for all that I have here. The Haitian people have lived with so little for so long, and the earthquake has left them with even less. They are a resilient people and with the world's support they will bounce back. Some things can never be replaced, but I was grateful for the opportunity to give back as much as I could. I am proud of the way that America has answered the call and stepped up to the plate. I know how hard we worked, but I just wish that we could have helped more. Dr. Paul Vanek was truly amazing and I could not have asked for anyone better to work with. Theresa Jackson, RN and Jean Kurdas, RN touched countless lives and the Haitians love them.

I would like to thank my family and friends who kept me, my team, and the Haitian people in your thoughts and prayers. I could not have gotten through it without all your support. I am glad my son, Brandon, was able to act as a liaison and keep all of you informed through his blog. He was also able to convey to me many of your words of support while I was in Haiti, which comforted me through the long days. Knowing that you were so supportive provided us continuous encouragement and energy and lifted our spirits. I want to thank everyone who made a charitable contribution, whether to Project Medishare or to any one of the many other incredible relief organizations. Your gifts are lifesaving.

I'd also like to take the opportunity to thank Project Medishare, the entire Cleveland team, Team Sweden, Lieut. Col. Wilson, everyone at the Haiti Community Hospital, and Amway for flying us home on their corporate jet.

Even though our team returned, the relief effort will continue for a long time and I encourage other teams to organize medical relief efforts deployed to Haiti soon.

Love you all,

Thank You Letter from Dr. Vanek

A letter written by Dr. Vanek and printed in the News Herald on February 7, 2010.

On behalf of the Cleveland team deployed by Project Medishare, I would like to express my sincere thanks. I am so grateful to be back home in America. From the start of this life-altering trip, the love and support of the people of Lake County and the Cleveland area has been felt by our team members.

Beginning with Dr. Ted Nichols, LakeHealth was totally supportive in both encouragement as well as material support. The more than $27,000 in antibiotics and supplies allowed us to be effective as soon as we arrived. Nichols authorized this without hesitation. Dr. Jack Fitzgerald volunteered upon hearing the news that a local physician was planning to leave for Haiti. His professionalism and skills allowed countless patients to have comfort and surgical care under the most trying circumstances. He facilitated the success of our team effort with his tireless work on behalf of the Haitian people. The LakeHealth nurses, Jean Kurdas and Theresa Jackson, touched countless lives and the Haitians love them.

I would like you all to know that we were sustained by the knowledge that our family, friends and well-wishers were praying for us and the Haitian people. The peace of mind this gave me is difficult to put into words. It allowed me to focus my determination to succeed. I would like to thank Brandon Fitzgerald for setting up a way for the Cleveland area to monitor some of our activities.

My family and I were out of communication and his blog served them to stay up to date. Jack read aloud to me from his BlackBerry the words of comfort and support that lifted my spirits and further energized me. I want to thank everyone who made a charitable contribution, whether to Project Medishare or to any one of the many other relief organizations. Your gifts are lifesaving.

I'd also like to thank the volunteers of Project Medishare who worked tirelessly to get our team to Haiti, American Airlines, the entire Cleveland team, Team Sweden from Star of Hope, Lt. Col. Wilson, everyone who shared our zeal at Haiti Community Hospital and Amyway for flying us home on their corporate jet.

The relief effort will continue for a long time. The world community is there helping the terrible conditions we see on TV every night. I call upon the medical community of Cleveland to mobilize and go to Haiti as soon as possible as lives will be saved by immediate intervention. My sincerest thanks and requests for your continued prayers for those involved in the Haitian relief effort.

Dr. Vanek on NPR

Dr. Vanek was recently interviewed by Eric Wellman on WCPN (National Public Radio). He relates a story about a young man whose leg they desperately needed to amputate. "Trying to sensitively convey that to him through an interpreter means kneeling down at his bedside and holding his hand and telling him we love him and that we love his life more than he has to love his leg."

He goes on to say, "I'm so appreciative for things like running water and the things I have in my home and my life and my community." "We're Americans and we need to be down there."

To listen to the complete interview, please click here.

Photos from Team Cleveland

I am happy to bring you photos from Team Cleveland! These photos say more than this blog ever could. Dr. Vanek and Dr. Fitzgerald talked about how important digital photographs were at the hospital. Volunteers would take photos of the victims' wounds and relay them to the surgeons to help the teams prioritize patients and determine how best to proceed with surgeries and patient care. It is remarkable the role technology can play in facilitating such a monumental relief effort. I have omitted any photos I deemed too graphic, but some photos depict surgeries and amputees that might upset some. To check out the photos, please click here.

Click here to see more photos from the Haiti Community Hospital taken by Tiffany Hein. [Note: these do not include any of Cleveland team]

Photographer Tomas Loewy--born in Prague and now living in Miami--has put together a photo album documenting the work of Project Medishare's doctors in Haiti. [Note: these do not include any of our Cleveland team] Click here to see his album.

Interreligious Fundraiser for Project Medishare

On Tuesday, I met with the SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise) group at Lake Erie College in Painesville. I have signed on as an advisor to help them organize a fundraiser for Project Medishare. I was very impressed with the group and their interest in supporting the relief effort. They are hoping to organize churches/temples in Northeast Ohio to set up a supplementary collection that will go to Project Medishare for the purchase of much-needed medicine, supplies and equipment. If your church or temple would like to get involved, please contact us here.

SIFE is a nonprofit organization that gives students the tools to learn the free enterprise system in a real working situation. SIFE challenges students on more than 800 college campuses nationwide to take what they're learning in the classroom and use their knowledge to better their communities. Guided by faculty advisors, SIFE teams establish a variety of community outreach programs that teach free enterprise.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Moving Story about one of the Team's Patients

The Cleveland team found this 6-year old girl who arrived at the HCH hospital accompanied by her aunt. Both her parents were killed in the earthquake. She was immediately prioritized and despite some concerns from other doctors, Dr. Fitzgerald assured Dr. Vanek that he could anesthetize the patient without issue. The Cleveland team were confident they could operate effectively. Their professionalism persevered over such an emotional case. Dr. Vanek successfully performed a fasciotomy and ulnar nerve decompression which means arm surgery. He also performed face and scalp surgery.

The team remained very close with this patient. They are confident the girl will recover and go on to live a long life. As you can see in the picture, tape was secured to the foreheads of post-op patients indicating what operating room they were treated in. Vanek and Fitzgerald worked out of OR 3. The tape allowed them to routinely check up on their own patients and occasionally replace the dressings, helping to ensure speedy recovery without infection. Although they may never hear from any of these patients again, they have great hope for their recoveries and were impressed with the New York team that replaced them.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Home From Haiti

I met up with my dad, Dr. Fitzgerald, at about 1pm today. I met Dr. Vanek for the first time and thanked him for all that he has done. He is a humble, down-to-earth, and all-around good guy. We drove over to WKYC in Cleveland so that they could be interviewed. Disheveled and unshaven--as you can see from the video here--they literally had just "stepped off the boat" so to speak but were so relieved to be home. You can also read the article by clicking here.

From there, we drove back to Dr. Vanek's home in Mentor and met his wonderful family. I also had the opportunity to meet Theresa Jackson, one of the Cleveland-area nurses with whom they volunteered. I had heard so much about all these people and was so happy to finally get the chance to meet them. Reporters from the News Herald and the Plain Dealer came over to interview them. Click here to read the The Plain Dealer article and click here to read The News Herald article. The mood was very emotional, particularly when Dr. Vanek described watching a piece on CNN of a small girl who died as her family tried to rescue her from the rubble by attempting amputation. This, he described, was the impetus for his trip to Haiti.

I felt privileged to spend the day listening to their stories -- from the miracles to the tragedies -- wide-eyed and attentive. Their tales were full of hope, gratitude, sadness, relief, uncertainty, humility, respect, exhaustion, concern, and joy. But never did they once feel helpless. They knew that as long as they were there, there was something they could do to help. I imagine they even surprised themselves by what they were able to accomplish at times. The two of them--always talking on top of each other or in unison--struck me as brothers or as soldiers who had shared a special bond in war.

I could tell that they all looked out for each other. The closer they worked as a team, they knew, the better they could care for the well-being of everyone around them. Their humility impressed me above all else--always thanking the other or crediting another with some particular success--but it was clear to me that they had saved many lives. They reminded themselves throughout the experience that they were acting as ambassadors of Cleveland, and our city can be proud of the work they did there and the way they carried themselves.

We welcome you home, and we hope others will follow in your footsteps. Vanek and Fitzgerald stressed the need for immediate patient care, and hope other Cleveland doctors, nurses, and hospitals will act directly and with urgency. They expressed thanks to Lake Health, Team Sweden, Lieut. Col. Wilson, everyone at the HCH hospital, everyone with Project Medishare, and everyone back home and around the country (even the world!) who has given of themselves in one way or another.

I would like to thank everyone following my blog. People have been visiting from hundred of cities and more than a dozen countries, including Canada, Sweden, France, Kuwait, South Korea, and England. Please continue to check back for more updates. I also hope to post some words from Dr. Fitzgerald and Dr. Vanek addressing all you readers, as well as whatever photographs they had a chance to take. If you would like to support the organization that made all their good work possible, please donate here. Your gift well help doctors like them save lives. If you are a doctor, healthcare professional, or institution/organization interested in helping Haiti Relief in a more hands-on way, please contact us here.

Photos from the Plane

Here are some photos of Dr. Fitzgerald, Dr. Vanek, and Dr. Soong on a Gulfstream G5 on its way from Port-au-Prince to Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tuesday Evening Update

I am so very happy to report that the entire Cleveland team has made it back safely. I received a message from Jack at 11:30am letting me know that he was taking a tap-tap [a brightly-colored cab] to the airport and was planning on leaving today. I was hesitant to report this news in case he could not get out of Port-au-Prince for some reason. [editor's note 1/27: I recently learned that when arriving at the airport they witnessed a vehicle run over someone's leg. Dr. Fitzgerald and Dr. Vanek loaded this person onto the tap-tap for transfer to a medical clinic at the airport]

A few hours later, at 4:15 pm, he described to me the chaos at the airport:
We arrived at airport and we're in a long line to board military jet. We saw a pilot from a private jet owned by Amway and ran to him to see if he might fly us back. he is working hard to get us approved.

Dr. Fitzgerald, Dr. Vanek, and Dr. H. Kaz Soong, an ophthalmologist from Ann Arbor, were graciously taken on by this pilot and were in the air sometime around 5:00pm. They landed in Grand Rapids, Michigan sometime around 9:30pm. The three were then on their way to Ann Arbor, where Dr. Fitzgerald and Dr. Vanek will spend the night before making the drive back to Cleveland sometime tomorrow.

We will all be happy to welcome them home.

Theresa Jackson reported at 6:53pm that she made it home safely. She writes, "Special thanks to Dr. Vanek, Dr. Fitzgerald, Col. Wilson, Erica and family. I also would like to thank Project Medishare and the local Haitians who helped at the HCH hospital. It was great to see all the people come together to help. I am looking forward to returning to Haiti to continue the assistance in the relief efforts."

I am certain that the Cleveland team's involvement in the Haiti relief effort does not end here, and neither does this story:

Hospitals and clinics supported and staffed by Project Medishare are still running around-the-clock in an effort to address the surgical needs of the victims of the earthquake. The organization is also committed to the long-term care of the victims and will be involved in rebuilding the healthcare infrastructure that they did so much to improve since their founding in 1994. The road ahead is a long one. I encourage everyone to continue to spread the word about this group's fine work. I hope that the stories I have shared here serve as a testament to the power of individuals to come together in hopes of doing some good in the face of overwhelming crisis.

I will continue to update this blog as a more complete story of the team's time there begins to emerge. I may edit earlier posts to paint a more complete picture of the events of the day. I also hope to bring you more photos and news reports whenever I can collect them. Several of us here in Cleveland are planning a benefit to welcome the team home and to support Project Medishare's commitment to Haiti relief. A tentative date has been set for February 8. If you have any questions or comments, you can contact me here.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Monday Evening Update

I'm doing well. Had nice soup and Swedish wheat crackers with lobster and shrimp out of a tube. We are getting a pizza tonight. Major score. $35 each.

We are working hard. I am very fortunate to have the skills that can help these people. It's been an education and I applaud the countless people here and back home that are rallying in such a disaster.

Monday Morning Update

We are operating on a 20-year old male with gangrene of the right leg. His family refuses amputation so we will debride his leg and treat him with antibiotics. [Debridement involves the surgical removal of dead or infected tissue to improve the healing potential of the remaining healthy tissue] We first reported on this patient on the blog's Sunday Afternoon Update. [editor's note 1/27: learned that the patient was wearing #23 for Cavalier Lebron James and is also a big fan of Shaq. Jack was impressed by what Dr. Vanek was able to accomplish and believes that under the care of the New York team still there, he has a very good chance of surviving.]

The "Swedish NY Times" just arrived and their photographer, Jorgen Hildebrandt, is taking some photos of the surgery. [Jorgen, who was born in Denmark, is a photojournalist who has lived in Asia and Yugoslavia, and now resides in Sweden] He works for a newspaper called "Expression" in Sweden. We are trying to get copies of his photos.

Jack also talks about Guunar, who he describes as the rugged, fearless naval officer in charge of the Sweden team.  He worked 9 years for NATO, planned the response to 9/11 in NYC, and now works for Star of Hope, where he has worked for the last 10 years.

Dr. Jack Lafontant, liaison to the Ministry of Health, is currently coordinating patient transfers between hospitals to make the best use of what space is available. This primarily includes the USNS Comfort, a U.S. Navy-owned floating clinic. In order to transfer critically ill patients to the well-equipped ship, other patients need to first be taken off the ship. This has involved a major logistical plan to bring more patient beds into the various hospitals/clinics.

Sunday Evening Update

Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division just walked over to my tent and checked up on us. They told us prisoners got loose and to beware of anyone wearing red bandannas. They are a gang. It sounds bad but I'm planning our exit with the Sweden team hopefully by helicopter out of this country. The conditions outside the hospital are not good.

We took care of a lot of patients today and there is much to be done tomorrow. This will go on a long time and the whole world is helping.

France has a huge team in charge of dressing wounds for people outside HCH hospital. We have more surgeons than ORs but we work together.  For example, an eye doctor and plastics doctor worked together to help a woman with severe eyelid, nose and facial trauma. Paul Vanek did an amazing job on that woman just a few hours ago.

Sticking with team Sweden.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Update from Dr. Vanek

Hello to all at home,

I have been blessed to coordinate the Cleveland team with Team Sweden to do a lot more efficient cases and patient care. My Swedish vocabulary for operative equipment and commands as a surgeon is improving. They are awesome and have helped sustain us all and me in particular. Dr. Stefan Redeén [a general surgeon from Stockholm] and I have done a lot of operations from morning through late at night. I have much to share with you in the coming days and weeks.

I wanted to acknowledge that you are all praying for me in Haiti. My team has been wonderful. The presence of medical staff at this critical time has been lifesaving for so many. It is humbling to see the amount of selfless work that has been done by the volunteers of the world and America. I am only one team of many who have made the decision that we must respond.

We are hearing a lot of terrible things about the conditions as the society breaks down. The Haitian people are sweet, kind and gracious. They are all so appreciative of the resources of material that Cleveland has mustered to help them. They are so nice to the Doctors and the staff. People from around the world have mobilized to come to the aid of Haiti.

I look forward to seeing you all soon.

Love to you all,
Paul Vanek, M.D.

Sunday Afternoon Update

Spoke with Jack on the phone for the first time since he has been in Haiti. Reports have come in since this morning that violence is escalating at an alarming rate, as people grow more desperate. He says that the black market is widespread, and some people have resulted to stealing medicine, equipment, food, and water. As a result, the hospital brought in a security guard this morning and they are expecting 10 armed soldiers from the UN military this evening who will remain there. From here on in, wrist bands will be distributed identifying everyone as either a a patient or a translator (whom he says are in short supply and desperately needed). Medical volunteers will wear ID tags around their necks. No one else will be allowed inside the hospital. He worries that as soon as supplies arrive, they seem to leave right out the backdoor. As a result, the Cleveland team has been very protective of their supplies and belongings

The orphanage here was heavily damaged by the quake with over 200 deaths I'm told. But on the other hand the prisoners mostly escaped unharmed. We heard 10,000 prisoners escaped. Since the earthquake struck at the heart of Port-au-Prince the impact is much worse and long lasting. Their banks were destroyed along with their equivalent of the IRS and of course the Presidential Palace. One Congressman was killed.

They had to airlift a patient to the USNS Comfort. People kept showing up claiming to be the team responsible for his delivery, only to leave not with the patient but only with their photo-ops. While many reporters have brought much-needed attention to the crisis, some have been disruptive. This is a distressing consequence. As we continue to watch the crisis from abroad, we must always be aware that everything we see and hear is in some way being filtered (and worse, sometimes staged) and that the true heroes are the doctors and nurses who are only there to help save lives.

They need to get patients off of USNS Comfort in order for hospitals like our to send critical patients to them for better care. We try to send our sickest patients that we believe can survive with expert medical care that otherwise will likely do poorly here.

New teams of volunteers continue to arrive at the hospital, including teams from New York, Nebraska, and Kansas. As we reported before, his Cleveland team has integrated with the Sweden team. Jack says that the Swedes there have a lot of experience with rescue and relief efforts including Hurricane Katrina, Afghanistan, and the Indonesian Tsunami. Volunteers from France are coordinating efforts outside the hospital and working on minor wounds. Inside, the volunteers are working in 12 hour shifts (from 7 to 7) with a 2 hour overlap in order to bring the next shift up to speed. Many cases involve infections, broken bones and sadly, amputations.

I have a 20 year old young man that has two long cuts on his right leg 20 centimeters each with gangrene and dead muscle exposed. He needs his leg amputated or he will die from the infection. His mother refuses amputation because the bone is not broken. We told them to think about it overnight and we will ask for permission tomorrow. It's a terrible choice for him.

I asked the hospital administrator what percent of the nurses working here are back to work. he said maybe 50% max. Some of the hospital leaders were killed and thus some staff won't return. Everyone is afraid to go inside building -- including hospitals.

It is a very fast-paced environment, and Jacks says that he is fascinated by the logistics of it all. As we wrapped up our conversation, he was about to sit down to a hot meal, for which he was very grateful. I, in turn, was grateful to hear from him and to know that he is OK.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Saturday Afternoon Update

Dr. Vanek and I have integrated into the Swiss Team called Star of Hope. They have a logistics team with them that arranges preparation of meals, sleeping area under the stars, cold beverages always available, and they maintain a neat and clean campsite. The Swedes have 2-way radios between the Operating Room and their campsite on the roof of the hospital. They have hot coffee and have lots of unusual snacks. I enjoyed some crackers that covered with Kalles Kaviar (caviar) out of a tube like toothpaste. They also have Kalles Bacon (delicious!) and Kalles Cheese. I also learned that peanut butter is very expensive in Sweden and I scored big when I gave them 4 small jars of Jif.

To read more about Star of Hope, click here.

What Your Support Means

Almost two weeks after the earthquake, Project Medishare is still at the forefront of efforts to bring urgently needed medical care to victims. They were the first to respond, and continue to operate with great efficiency and efficacy thanks to Project Medishare's strong relationships and long experience working in Haiti. Click here to learn more about the organization's history with Haiti.

The extraordinary support of local and national benefactors has been nothing short of miraculous. Friends, family, neighbors, fellow Clevelanders, and even caring strangers have played an important part in that miracle.

Thank you to those of you who have already given. To date, we have raised $2300. Your generous gift will support doctors like Jack and Paul in their critical relief efforts. If you have not given, please click here to make your tax-deductible donation through our Cleveland-Haiti Relief Fund Team, an officially registered fund raising team with Project Medishare. All contributions will go directly and immediately to Project Medishare's Earthquake Relief Fund, which provides medicine, supplies, and equipment in order to re-establish Haiti's health infrastructure, helping to make the transition from rescue and relief to rebuilding. On Thursday, Congress passed H.R. 442, legislation which will make Haiti relief donations made up until March 1, 2010 deductible on 2009 income taxes.

Please keep Jack, Paul, Theresa, and Jean in your thoughts and prayers. Your love and support brings them great comfort and sustains them in what must be an alarming and challenging time.

Reports on Surgery Conditions

Click here to read an article from Doctors Without Borders about the need for long-term post-operative care, concerns about the structural stability of hospitals, and the need for healthcare outside the city of Port-au-Prince.

British surgeon Paul McMaster working for Doctors Without Borders reports on surgery conditions, lack of medical supplies, and logistical problems. Click here to read this article from The Independent.

If you are having trouble viewing this video, click here

Friday Evening Update

We're still in surgery at 10pm hoping we can call it a day soon. Doing amputation of leg on 56 year old man that fractured his leg. Dr. Vanek saved a 15 year old boy today. But he is severely anemic with Hb=3 preop. We borrowed 2 units blood from our other patient to keep him alive in recovery room overnight. We are fighting to receive more blood tomorrow for him which required a special meeting with hospital administration and we were assured he would be airlifted to US Compassion offshore.

A young plastic surgeon from Dallas just visited us to see our surgery. She showed me photos of IMC-Internal Medical Center (Red Cross) and their MASH unit. Community Hospital is a private hospital, nicely equipped and staffed. There are patients outside due to structural damage from the earthquake. They had to convert their emergency room into operating rooms. The National Hospital collapsed and that was widely covered by the media. As a side note, we've heard different estimates on the prevalence of HIV among Haitians. Today I was told it used to be 10% but now its 2.5%. I will check that when I get home. Two surgeons just signed out three patients to us since they return home tomorrow.

We operated 15 hours today and 12-15 hours yesterday. We start at 7:45am tomorrow and have three big cases so far.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Afternoon Update

We are working long days and hoping to keep our operating room running continuously. The Surgeons tell everyone that we saved these patients lives. But we are worried how they will get by with amputations in the future under the terrible conditions in Haiti.

Jack also reports that he met documentary photographer, author and filmmaker Gerry Straub. According to his foundation's website, he "left a profitable and successful career as a producer of Hollywood soap operas for a radically different vocation."  For more information about Gerry's work as well as his recent observations while in Haiti, click here.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Google Maps: Community Hospital of Haiti / L’Hôpital de la Communauté Haïtienne

View Larger Map

View Larger Map

Thursday Afternoon Update

We partnered with a surgical team from Sweden. Getting better organized. Enjoyed can of tuna for lunch. Dr. Vanek took leadership and our surgical instruments and team are collaborating with Sweden and we have a full service team with continuous care of the pre and postoperative patients. Dr. Vanek and our team operated until 3am last night on very critically ill trauma patients and they are dramatically improved today. One of our hand case left the hospital without our consent. This is common. Technical surgical conditions have improved by having electrocautery and having sterile drapes. Prior to cautery patient blood loss was almost frightening, but now we only lose about 500cc on a leg amputation. Anesthesia monitoring is improved with a working pulse oximeter. We have 4 ORs now, they did a Cesarean Section yesterday. We have post op patients in 26 rooms.

Our best friend is a Special Ops soldier who checks on us regularly. We give him status reports on everything and he brings us whatever we need. No questions asked. We love his gung-ho attitude. Those folks make miracles happen every day.

I lost most of my clothes but I rummaged through bags of donated items and I'm good again. Back to surgery.

Thursday Morning Update

In any other circumstances it would be called romantic, adventurous, fun...sleeping under the stars in the Caribbean. But, Jack woke up on the roof top of the hospital in a sleeping bag with a mosquito net over his head, maybe 5 hours of sleep, to the harsh realities of another day in the makeshift OR. This is his description:

L’Hôpital de la Communauté Haïtienne

This is the hospital where we work. There are patients on cots all around the hospital waiting to get help. Many are afraid to come in the building because they fear it will collapse in another aftershock. Mostly injured limbs and fractures. Seeing a lot of gangrene and treating quickly with amputations under spinal anesthesia. The scope of the problem is enormous.
The other staff is helpful. But this feels like a war. I never saw surgery performed with so little equipment and basic monitors. Haiti was incredibly poor before the quake when unemployment was 75%. The relief effort and reconstruction may take ten years per the Special Ops soldier we talk to ( Lieutenant Colonel Wilson).

Jack describes everyone he meets as generous, helpful and "unbelievably humanitarian".

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wednesday Afternoon Update

Port-au-Prince was settled in 1700 and had two earthquakes in 1761 and 1780, but none since. The population was 2 million before this quake. Maybe 200,000 dead. There are 12,000 troops with UN, Haiti police and Marines. We heard 7,000 Marines landed today.

Flew over slums around airport. People living on the streets and under tarps. Airport has Marine helicopters and Marines exercising. C130 cargo planes unloading supplies. Our Medishare clinic is on airport right next to Marines. Looks very secure.

We landed at airport and took our personal belongings to Medishare tent in airport. We are riding on a bus along a crowded 2-lane road seeing Haitians in the streets and homes in rubble. Relief teams from Germany, Qatar, Israel, Greece, UN, many NGOs. Ambulances blaring sirens because traffic is so slow. The rock in the water doesn't know the suffering of the rock in the sun.

Earthquake situation report #8 from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

Highlights / Key Priorities

  • International search-and-rescue teams reported four more live rescues on 19 January, including those of a 22-day-old baby and a 3-year-old child. The revised total of lives saved by international search-and-rescue teams is over 121 people.
  • Despite logistical and security constraints, the affected population is receiving an increasing number of relief supplies, including medical assistance, food, water and shelter.
  • Priorities remain medical supplies, water and sanitation, tents, blankets, food and fuel and transport equipment.
  • Aid has started reaching people in areas west of Carrefour and in Jacmel.
  • There is an increased risk of death as open wounds and fractures go untreated. WHO reports the number of communicable diseases in Haiti and along the border remains stable

For more information from the OCHA, click here and here.

Wednesday Morning Update

6:46am - On the Bus

We just boarded the bus to our American Airline flight to Port-au-Prince. Our team is together and we have all our supplies checked. Just heard Haiti had another 6.0 quake [Click here for related CNN article] but we will land. We’re a little nervous and my team is discussing how we will stay together. Stay safe and seek military support. We have a police escort in Miami. They are all totally supportive in every way.

7:20am - On the Plane

I am seated on the plane next to a UN representative who told me [retired NBA basketball player and former Georgetown Hoya] Alonzo Mourning donated the first hospital in Haiti this week. [Click here and here for more information] But the UN has had a presence there and has connections. He said they are building a new semi-rigid 300 bed hospital right now and it will have rooms for medical staff too. He said it is the Hilton of hospitals there now.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tuesday Afternoon Update

Jack has reported that the cost of fuel in the Dominican Republic has skyrocketed from $1.50/gal yesterday to $6.75/gal today, raising the total fuel cost of a plan to Haiti to nearly $40,000, making travel even more difficult. He will be staying at the Miami airport tonight and expects to fly out sometime tomorrow. He appreciates the support of so many who are helping to ship $17,000 worth of medical supplies via FedEx. He reports that the Director of Operations at the airport is contributing cases of baby formula. He would also like to express his support of everyone who has gotten in touch with him today. I will make an effort to ensure that any comments left on this blog for the Cleveland team will be relayed to Jack via BlackBerry.

Tuesday Morning Update

Jack flew out of Cleveland this morning at 6:05am on American Airlines flight 4384 arriving in Chicago at 6:30am. His flight left Chicago at 7:35am on AA 1048 arriving in Miami at 11:45am.

There are over 400 people on the waiting list to go from Miami to Haiti. Only 60 planes can land in Haiti each day. Jack and his team are fortunate enough to be cleared to go on the 1:00pm flight out of Miami.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Contact Us

Your Name
Your Email Address
Your Phone Number