Saturday, July 18, 2009

At the Beach!

Saturday, July 18 at 2:15 PM
At the Beach!
Made it! With Shaun’s help, I was able to negotiate a ride with Levy, the main Haitian gardener at HAS, and a friend of the Dowells. We spent over 2 hours late Friday afternoon slowly bumping over one of the dustiest poor quality roads I have ever seen. I arrived soaked in sweat and exhausted, but VERY happy to be here for a break. As I mentioned in my last post, there is a cumulative effect of the heat that left me exhausted by Friday. There has been no rain in Deschapelles for several days to break the heat. Nights are a wrestling match of tossing and turning with the sheets half way off the bed by morning.

Right now, though, I must STOP complaining. Last night and today are GREAT! Some things change and Moulin Sur Mer where I am staying is one of the few things in Haiti that is better than when I last saw it 3 1/2 years ago. (Check it out at The grounds have improved and they have chased away the beach people trying to sell you stuff, except for a few that have a vendor badge. All food is served buffet style which is faster and it is plentiful. There is wireless access throughout the resort, including here in my room. That is definitely the biggest change of all.

There is a greater percentage of Haitian visitors here this time--in the majority--as opposed to more ‘blans’ in the past. There are also Americans who appear to be of Haitian descent. I just met a group of young people who are in Haiti to put a new roof on an orphanage, and there are other ‘blans’ here and there.

My little room has an air conditioner and I slept COLD last night for the first time since leaving Dallas. There is a warm shower. I will soon be crashing for a cool nap.

So this weekend begins my partial re-entry back into the world of the USA. I needed this rest to have the energy to finish off well with the students and, I hope, leave them with a positive impression of my help.

Problems to Solve
Morning conference with the medical staff was very interesting on both Thursday and Friday. On Thursday, the 3 Haitian internists on staff talked about risks/procedures related to accidental exposure to blood. As all my medical friends know, this is a common problem but so much more difficult to deal with here where resources are limited, conditions are crowded, and access to even soap and water can be delayed.

On Friday, the MD in charge of the conference reported that the UN had found a case of swine flu in Cap Haitian. This sparked a discussion on how to manage patients at HAS in the event that there is an outbreak of swine flu. Space for isolating patients is almost nonexistent. There is no tamiflu available at the hospital. Crowded conditions and past history indicate that many staff members are likely to be infected if there is an outbreak. No one mentioned if N-95 masks were available (the more protective kind needed in this situation for staff). I doubt that there are resources for fit testing (another procedure needed to ensure that the masks are providing complete protection against airborne infection). A negative pressure room in Haiti (used for airborne diseases in the US) consists of a room with a window fan that blows air outside the room---onto the campus!

In 6 days I will be heading home. The month has gone by quickly as I knew it would. There is still work to do, so posts may be few. Thank you all, again, for your support. Judy

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