News about Fr. Rick Frechette in Haiti
A patient is carried by medical staff for treatment.
The hospital continues to be swamped with patients. We are not able to assess where they are coming from. They are desperate to find medical care. Overall the estimate is 500-700 patients in a hospital which is built for 200. Out of that 700, 200 are children and one third are under 12 years of age.
Approximately 100 x-rays have been performed daily and there are still people awaiting x-rays. There is one operating room functioning at this time for amputation of arms and legs. We are trying to prioritize surgeries, but we still do not have a working system and people are awaiting amputations. Most of the injuries we are seeing are fractures to the extremities, external fractures and wounds that are a couple days old; it is impossible to fix the smashed and soft tissue injuries.
Basic utilities, including water and electricity, are up and running. The pipes to the well were damaged, but they are now functioning properly.
Due to the dedicated staff, we are able to maintain a high level of hygiene, on all levels in the hospital. A truck arrived today from Food for the Poor, which delivered rice and beans, surgical supplies and disinfectants. Also a donation of 2500 family rations was delivered from CVS so that everyone that leaves the hospital has a supply of food.
The hospital grounds are open on some sides due to the perimeter wall falling down and there are slight security concerns but no major incidents. There are security issues all over Haiti and the UN is stepping up patrols with their limited resources.
Most patients are on the ground floor of the hospital. The second floor is empty with no patients. It is clear that the rooms were left in a hurry; there are still plates of food on the tables. People are afraid to go inside the buildings and apparently there are still aftershocks. According to the government’s advice, we are not to be in the building. There has been no assessment of the buildings, only according to eyesight there is no damage. Some of the ground floor rooms are being used for intervention and wound casting and dressing.
The front yard is full of patients that we are trying to move into the courtyards. Luckily, we have not had any rain. Plastic sheets have been set-up to provide shade wherever it is possible.
Today, two people died…one adult and one child, but there were also two births. One boy and one girl. It was delightful to see the physician from Italy running around trying to find a rubber band for the ambilical cord. He then found a band in an office, sterilzed it and used it.
The Italian army is setting up tent offices in our backyard, flattening the land and waiting for their supplies to be delivered. We anticipate they will be attending to patients as well.
Fr. Rick is providing medical care to patients, giving hope and talking with people to re-instill hope. He is providing pastoral care to everyone, including the staff. Among his many other duties, Fr Rick and Fr Peter (American) have also taken medical supplies to visit the injured around the city and performed funeral services at the general morgue.
Doctors from all over the world are coming to volunteer. It is amazing and impressive to see that considering all the languages, people are all working together and working hard to alleviate suffering. Staff and volunteers are sweating like crazy, everyone is tired and exhausted. It is amazing to see that 14-years after I worked here, there are so many ex-pequeños still here along with the staff. Dr Arty was with us all day. She is like Fr. Rick, helping to motivate the staff. She is a great support to the Haitian staff if they have difficulty understanding a volunteer.
At 5 pm, the lights are back on. You can hear the sound of the generator, all the cars have left the compound and the city has lights again. It is quiet where before there were many people yelling and crying in pain.
The local mobile phone service is up and running but still jammed and the satellite service seems to be jammed. We are trying to have a central communication command and we brought our own satellite phones (if they work) but we need radios on the compound to find people. The stores are not open but we are receiving re-enforcements from the Dominican Republic.
The children in Kenscoff are doing well and everyone is safe. There is hardly any structural damage. Currently there is enough food, but they are running low on diesel. Since we have close UN ties, there should not be a problem replenishing our supplies. There are still lots of vegetables, fruits and potatoes in the market, though the prices are increasing rapidly.
Ferel is working in Petionville and Port-au-Prince to help with the external youths, ex-pequeños and staff. Alfonso arrived today to help with coordination at the home. Margo (Ferel’s wife) is also helping along with Sr Altagracia.