Home > Uncategorized > Haiti–Day #2–Working at the hospital

Haiti–Day #2–Working at the hospital

February 21, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments
Haiti (Feburary 2011)
Day #1 Day #2 Day #3 Day #4 Day #5 Day #6 Day #7

Here we are commuting to work. It’s a little different from your typical American commute.

Daily Commute

The Water Supply

300 Feet Upstream of the Water Supply...

I worked in a “consultation room” in the local hospital with Dr. Neyvi and Antoine Jean-Remy. Neyvi is a Mexican woman from Acapulco who attended medical school, for free, in Cuba. Antoine is a local Haitian who was acting as a medical assistant and interpreter.

The consultations went something like this:

  • Antoine (in Haitian), “What is your name and age? What’s wrong?”
    The patient would reply in Haitian. Neyvi would write down their name and age, in pencil, on a sheet of paper. That’s the extent of the charting.
  • Antoine would tell Neyvi, in Spanish, the patient’s chief complaint.
  • Neyvi would tell me, in Spanish, what medicines to inject. (Every patient received at least one med, and usually too, from me, in the bum. The needle was the size of a 16 penny nail.)
  • I’d try to clarify the med and dosage by stuttering in Spanish to Neyvi and in French to Antoine. They’d laugh at my ignorance.

The hospital was insanely busy. It made the TV show “ER” look tame! There were more than 100 people waiting to be seen. The small “consultation” room was about 7′ x 7′. I treated patients from 2 years old to 71 years old, who had everything from Giardia and hypertension, to syphilis, diabetic emergencies, trauma w/infection, etc. (The patient details, for my medical friends, are below.) There were frequently three patients plus the three of us in the tiny room–at once. Basically, I gave everyone a huge shot in the bum with the med-de-la-ailment.

Busy Hospital

I tried to keep track of my patients (excuse the HIPAA law violation), but quickly lost count:
  1. 71-year-old female. “Sexual diseases.” She gets a shot from me, the “Blanc” (white person).
  2. 34-year-old male. Abdominal pain. Neyvi says he has parasites, “Giardia.” The patient was frustrated that I was given him a shot in his rear when it was his belly that hurt.
  3. 18-year-old male. Fever, back pain, and abdominal pain. They ordered several blood tests (I think a CBC, AIDS, and Glucose), but he didn’t get off that easy (another shot from the Blanc).
  4. 2-year-old male. Vomiting, diarrhea, fever. I gave a shot of amoxicillin. This was my first injection into a toddler; there’s a trick to bending their leg and holding it so they can’t squirm away.
  5. 24-year-old male. The Antoine said, “Do you know MRI?” I said “Yes, like an x-ray.” But Neyvi had the patient lean over and she did a rectal exam. Neyvi had me listen to the patient’s breath sounds (I’m glad they were clear, ’cause I don’t know how I would explain abnormal breath sounds in French or Spanish).
  6. 26-year-old female. Neyvi wanted me to take her blood pressure. There was a lot of confusion over my reporting the BP as my 168/124, because they always round to the nearest 10 and drop the last digit (i.e., 17/12)! I gave her an injection of some hypertensive med (yeah, crazy that I was injecting unknown meds!) and sublingual Nitro.
  7. 38-year-old female. Her blood glucose level was 358 (normal is between 80 and 120). Obviously a hyperglycemic diabetic. We didn’t treat her. Maybe she was sent to a different hospital. Maybe we were out of insulin.
  8. 63-year-old female. Syphilis. I was supposed to give her a full bottle of penicillin. I added 5 mL of H2O to the bottle, shook it, added a vial of what I assume was a pain killer (hey, the meds were labelled in Chinese or Spanish), and then 5 mL more H2O. I shook it up, filled two syringes with 5 mL each, and injected the first dose. I then switched the needle to the other syringe–I’d get fired in the USA if I did this (too likely to get a needle stick). I then tried to give the second injection but the plunger was “stuck.” I pushed as hard as I could (with the 16-penny nail-like needle in her bum) without success. Neyvi had me pull it out, she removed the needle (scary), pressed hard on the plunger and a clot of the concoction flew out of the syringe and onto the wall. She put the needle back on the syringe, passed it to me, and I injected it. Three shots, one 16-penny nail.
  9. 20-something year old female who was carried in by another 20-something female. She had nasty foot injection and the skin was literally sloughing off (see nasty photo). Neyvi filled out some forms so she could be admitted into a bigger hospital in another town. Her 105 lbs friend picked her up and staggered off.
  10. 21-year-old male. Crap. I can’t keep writing this stuff down!

Neyvi was the perfect mentor. If I was unsure about something, she’d say to Antoine, “No, him do it!” and she’d laugh with a huge, wonderful smile. Great day.

Haiti (Feburary 2011)
Day #1 Day #2 Day #3 Day #4 Day #5 Day #6 Day #7
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