Friday, March 19, 2010

Welcome Home

Our Sutter Health volunteer medical team has returned from Haiti.

Thank you for your dedication and service to our worldwide community of patients.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Saving lives -- one child at a time

Bernice Doner, R.N. (California Pacific Medical Center), Nadine Burke M.D. (California Pacific Medical Foundation, Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation) and Jodi Davi, M.D. (California Pacific Medical Center) resuscitating a child at HUEH Hospital in Haiti.

Toni Brayer, M.D. (Sutter Health West Bay Region) helps another sick baby.

At other times, all the team could do was give a hug or a toy to help ease their suffering. Below is Earvin Ledi, R.N. (California Pacific Medical Center).

14 hour shifts take their toll

Working the 14 hour night shift is hard on our Sutter Health team -- everyone tries to sleep but the sunlight, bugs and oppressive heat make it tough.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Meet Alex

From Toni Brayer M.D.

I mentioned that we've hired the son of a patient as our interpreter. Above is a photo of myself, Cassie Kinser R.N. (California Pacific Medical Center) and Alex - our star interpreter.

Another long night

From Toni Brayer M.D.

Another long night at HU
EY has come to an end.

Above is the ICU tent. The team is elated that everyone is still alive at the end of the shift.

We are finding more and more tents scattered around the hospital area with patients and no doctors or nurses attending them. Are dressings being changed? We don't know. Families are caring for the patients, bathing and feeding them.

Partners In Health does not have the resources to cover everywhere and the government hasn’t paid the doctors or nurses for months. It is a truly broken system and we are so worried about what will happen when we are gone. Today there are no doctors to cover the ICU and only one nurse.

Above in the hand washing station in the ER tent. I wish we had one in the medical ward. I have never appreciated good hand washing as much as now...when there is no hand washing.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

In the ICU

Charles Morris, M.D., Internist, California Pacific Medical Center and Grace Cheng, R.N., Intensive Care Unit, California Pacific Medical Center in the ICU.

The medical ward

From Toni Brayer, M.D.

Family often stays with patients in the hospital, finding anywhere to sleep.

Swamped with patients

From Toni Brayer, M.D.

Last night was a bad night for some of the team – more of our patients died. University General Hospital (where we’re providing care) is serving over 3 million people. And there are only two relief groups here helping the fragmented Haitian medical folks – Partners in Health and and another international medical group that is running the ER. Below you can see the line for the ER tent around 6 a.m. The ER care team tries to treat as many patients as possible but the doctors and nurses can't get to everyone. We learned today that a girl with sickle cell died after waiting all day to be seen.

This man was leaving the busy ER tent and had a large burn on his leg. We brought him into the medical error where Lucy Duffy R.N. (California Pacific Medical Center) put on a zeroform dressing.

There is a doctor here from UCSF who I’ve been consulting that also runs a TB tent. We are swamped with patients all the time and the post-op tent was unattended last night because we have such few resources. The patients in post-op are very sick but there isn't enough help to go around.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Patients find joy in soccer

Josh Richards, M.D., orthopedics, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center sent us a short video of two Haitian patients learning how to find joy again in the country's favorite pastime - soccer.

We Lost Three Babies Before Midnight

From Toni Brayer, M.D.

“The Sutter team is hoping our efforts make a small difference but we are all aware of how huge the problem is.

Above you can see the ICU tent (tent 'L'). We admitted a 48-year-old woman who had a stroke involving her entire right side. Her daughter told us that the family fell from the fifth floor of a building during the earthquake. Her father and other family members died. One of the children in the family broke his leg – they couldn't believe they actually survived. They are living in the street and now this.

Hearing story after story like that and experiencing the sadness with these people up close brings us all to tears daily. All you can do is wipe away your tears, start IVs and try to practice first world medicine in an impoverished developing country.

Caring for the children is especially tough. You can see the pediatric ward above. The pediatrician team lost three babies before midnight. They are so resilient and each of us had had to come to terms with our own sadness.

Because of a daylight curfew our work shift has been extended. It makes for a long day and challenges our ability to debrief as a team. We also need to rest so we can take care of patients and guard our time to sleep like gold.

We send our greetings to the folks at home who are reading this blog.”

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Complex Medical Problems

From Toni Brayer, M.D.

Since the people of Haiti primarily speak French and French Creole, interpreters are critical in our care of patients. The first night we struggled because our patients’ health histories are complicated and they so many co-morbid health issues. Without charting we have to rely on patients and their families to understand their problems. To help, we have hired the son of a patient as a translator and he is fantastic. He stays awake all night to help. I am also giving him our extra food. He wears a smile every day.

The young postpartum mother with sepsis was sitting up this morning in the ICU. With interpreter help we discovered her newborn had not been fed for 5 days as it was a home birth. We sent the father home immediately to bring the baby back to breastfeed (if possible). I hope to check up during tomorrow’s shift.

We are dealing with seizures tonight on medicine ward. The degree of cardiomyopathy and heart failure is profound, even in young people. Dr. Charlie Morris (California Pacific Medical Center) brought a portable echo cardiogram machine and has been very busy. Many patients do not have homes and live on the street. There is no way to comprehend how they can deal with their illnesses in those types of living conditions.

Others aid organizations (besides Partners in Health) are working here at the hospital. Another group runs the ER and the ICU during the day. The ER is a tent – they’re using tables as stretchers, portable table fans to keep the tent cool and there is a line of people out the doorway needing care. Earvin Ledi R.N. with California Pacific Medical Center is an ICU nurse and is helping connect us with the needs of patients in the ER and ICU, as well as holding down the ICU all night.

No rain yet which is a blessing and I still don't have my suitcase.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The First Night Shift

Sent from Toni Brayer, M.D.

“We are having a long night and the conditions are very grim. There is no running water at the hospital and we often see mice running across the floor. Families stay with patients in the hospital, so there are many people sleeping on the floor and even under beds. Also food is scarce so families bring in meals for our patients.

There are about 45 patients in the medical ward alone – more in the ICU and pediatric units. Each of these wards is in different buildings/tents and patients are suffering from conditions like cerebral malaria, cancer, cirrhosis and heart failure. There are no diagnostic tests and little treatment available. Thankfully, we do have morphine now and some antibiotics.

Tonight I transferred a postpartum patient with sepsis to the ICU. This means the ICU doctor and nurse come over with a stretcher and literally carry her to another building. The ICUs are running codes all the time. We are at the hospital from 5pm to 7am – it makes for a long 14 hour night. We are trying to take shifts but with the acuity of patients it is hard.

Haiti is much more impoverished than I thought. Everyone is so poor and hungry and thin. I gave my box dinner to a patient family member who is helping interpret. We would not be able to help patients as best we can without him.”

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Arrival - Port au Prince, Haiti

From Toni Brayer M.D.

"The team has arrived in Haiti.
Our accommodations are rustic but good. We have flush toilets and two showers and very newish tents with a new mattress pad. The weather is overcast and muggy but very pleasant. Many of us do not have our bags yet, so we are making due and when we arrived we had a nice goat and rice lunch.

We will be relieving the Haitian doctors by working the night shift at HUEH hospital -- 10-12 hour shifts.

Although we are pretty exhausted from the flight -- got only 3-4 hours sleep last night -- we are anxious to begin our work and help the patients here in Haiti."

Friday, March 5, 2010

Second Team Leaves SFO...Bound for Haiti

Seventeen medical volunteers from across our Sutter Health network left today on a medical relief mission to Haiti.

This is the second Sutter Health team to visit the earthquake-ravaged country. The team will work the night shift at Hospital de l'Universite d'Etat d'Haiti – also known as University Hospital in Port-au-Prince. They'll be providing vital medical services for one week.

Throughout Sutter Health, doctors and nurses have also donated their own time to provide vital medical care to patients in Haiti.

Team members include:


  • Ken Barnes, M.D., Internist, California Pacific Medical Center (St. Luke’s campus)
  • Toni Brayer, M.D., Internist, Chief Medical Officer Sutter Health West Bay region
  • Nadine Burke, M.D., Pediatrician, California Pacific Medical Center
  • Jodi Davi, M.D., Pediatrician, California Pacific Medical Center
  • Charles Morris, M.D., Internist, California Pacific Medical Center
  • Marc Pollock, M.D., Critical Care, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center
  • Josh Richards, M.D., Orthopedics, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center
  • Corey Allen, R.N., Intensive Care Unit, California Pacific Medical Center
  • Teresa Bettencourt, R.N., EMT, Medical Surgical/Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Sutter Roseville Medical Center
  • Grace Cheng, R.N., Intensive Care Unit, California Pacific Medical Center
  • Janice Davis, R.N., Oncology, Medical Surgical, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center
  • Bernice Doner, R.N., Adult and Pediatric Emergency Department, California Pacific Medical Center
  • Lucy Duffy, R.N., Critical Care, Emergency Department, Pulmonary Acute Care Unit, California Pacific Medical Center,
  • Jessica Feinerman, R.N., Emergency Department, Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation
  • Cassie Kinser, R.N., Medical Surgical, California Pacific Medical Center
  • Earvin Ledi, R.N., Intensive Care Unit, Medical Surgical, California Pacific Medical Center
  • Steve Novak, R.N., Emergency Department, Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Second Team of Sutter Health Medical Volunteers Heads to Haiti

We're thrilled to share with you that a second team of Sutter Health network doctors and nurses are heading to Haiti to provide vital medical care to the victims of the massive earthquake that struck the country in January.

More info will be coming soon and our team will again be providing us with blog updates from the ground.

If you have a question you'd like to ask our doctors or nurses, email us at and our team will do its best to respond.