Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Fourth of July from Haiti

This has been a long day and I am one pooped blan (foreigner in Kreyol, derived from the French blanc). Fortunately, the rain is cooling everything off quite readily.

This was the first day for the Rehabilitation Technician students in the clinic. I worked with 3 of the students on the hospital ward amidst the chaos of families and an overflowing pediatrics ward with children and babies spilling out into the hallway. Each of the 3 students worked with one child today who had been burned. They did remarkably well, especially with the 2 younger children who delighted in the one on one attention of these young adults who "played" with them while encouraging them to stretch out painful burned limbs.

Writing up a note to describe what they had done was another story and this process was painfully slow. I suspect that the Haitian educational system thus far has not encouraged them to do much narrative writing and they struggled to put together a coherent description of their work.

After we returned to the new Physical Therapy Dept in the courtyard, an outpatient arrived late in the day. She had been in the hospital earlier this year and had become profoundly weak, arriving by wheelchair today. I found a note in the chart from one of the staff Rehab Technicians, so I asked her to work with the patient along with the students. She did so and I was delighted to see the Haitian staff member asking the students questions as they worked. The woman stood up to a walker, and then was able to walk a short distance with a slightly wobbly gait. She was thrilled; she had not walked since January 22. Very good ending to a long day.

The real Haiti moment came, though, as she left the hospital. She was tired to we sent her to the front entrance to exit in a hospital wheelchair. We gave her a walker to take and use at home. As we left for the day, we found her at the front door uncertain how to get the wheelchair down the 3-4 steep steps there; there is no alternate exit. So, one of the students backed the wheelchair down the stairs to meet her ride waiting on his motorcycle. The young man driving the cycle hoisted her onto the seat side saddle. Her daughter straddled the seat behind both of them, and with one hand on her disabled Mother and the other holding the walker, they took off! I only wish I had gotten a picture.

May you enjoy everything you have been given tonight. Happy Fourth of July.

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