May 2010 Update
By Josiane Hudicourt-Barnes
May 1, 2010
Here we are at the beginning of May and it will soon be 4 months since the Earthquake happened. The frantic pace of emergency care has abated and the hospital is quiet after 2 pm every day. In the morning the outpatient clinics are crowded but there are few hospitalized patients, few mothers giving birth. I haven’t seen a baby in the neonatal room for more than 2 weeks. The ICU is empty and the emergency room is often very quiet. People have to pay for care at HCH and people don’t have money. Only 2 patients are left from the Earthquake: 15 year-old Judeline with her multiple traumas, and Anese, the first time mom and amputee.Anese’s baby boy is two weeks old now and she is just waiting for a spot in a tent camp that the Organization for International Migration promised to find for her. Judeline is likely to travel to the US for further treatment.
Djimmy , the boy with the external fixator in the photos on our website, finally had his fixator removed by Dr. Bernard this week. The wound care area in the first courtyard is no longer in use, and La Pepinniére replanted flowers and plants in the two courtyards. We had a painting crew two weekends ago freshening up the staircase walls and the coffee area walls, and we had a mural painted on the far wall of the main courtyard. Three weeks ago, Rainmaker guys built a wood and tarp structure over the concrete platform next to the ER entrance for the Global Therapy Group to have their own workspace. Judeline is their main patient with 2 one-hour sessions every day. Judeline has been transformed by the therapist. She no longer has to be begged to get out of bed, and she smiles all the time. Most other physical therapy clients are outpatients who walk in for help or in-patient stroke victims. Global Therapy is in for the long haul and is making connections with other providers, and referring patients to Handicap International for prostheses, until we get our own lab. The Swedish and Colombian delegation that will help us with the prosthesis workshop arrives next week. Meanwhile HCH will be featured for a few moments at the end of this Sunday’s (May 2) Extreme Makeover Home Edition. The family who is getting the new home has a double amputee girl who donated two of her old prostheses to Renane, our poster child from the thank you note, and to another little girl named Louisemil.
Since the last week’s news spotlighted the bankruptcy of Haitian private hospitals, HCH feels lucky. We have had no lay-offs and we are still working. You, our great friends and relatives in the United States, Canada, Haiti, and the world have sent us contributions. Thanks to all of you, we made our payrolls and began to pay our bills without charging patients for 3 full months. We even bought a tiny box van to do errands because the hospital truck can no longer be repaired. We also continued to feed a meal of rice and beans every day to patients and staff. The administration wants to stop feeding the staff as of May 1.
April 12th was a very upsetting day because we began charging patients. Charges at HCH are usually 10-15% of the cost of a fully private hospital ($4 per visit, $6 per hospitalization bed) but it is still money that folks don’t have. The hospital emptied out and the emergency room became quiet. Today there are 20 hospitalized patients. The few earthquake victims left in hospital were allowed to remain for free. Outpatients from the earthquake will also continue receiving free services. Thankfully, this week we received a grant from Direct Relief International for $25000 to continue some free services for 3 months. We will continue to have an outdoor free clinic, and we will begin free consultations for women and children on Monday. By using the grant money to pay the Haitian doctors, we are hoping to actually double the value of the grant by also having guest medical staff to work in pediatrics and women’s care. We know that having fewer patients doesn’t mean that people are not sick. We know that women are having babies without skilled help in their tents or homes, and that every time a child is sick, the mother has to think about whether the child is sick enough to warrant borrowing the money for a medical visit or for transportation to a free clinic. That is an unbearable thought. We know, because too often the decision to go to the hospital is done so late that people die on the way, in the parking lot, or shortly after arrival. Meanwhile news of millions and billions being donated to Haiti keeps arriving but no large entity, not the Haitian government, not the US government, not the very large nonprofits have offered to help us serve the community.