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.

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