Haiti 2014 - Day 4
Day 4: Today I was scheduled to work a morning shift at the hospital. It was hard to get up early this morning after our long day yesterday. After some more peanut butter toast and tea we hopped on a moto taxi and made our way into the hospital. It had been very busy overnight and they made the entry hall to the maternity ward the postpartum overflow unit and there were five women laying on the concrete floor with their newborn babies. Some were lucky enough to have a sheet under them if their family brought one and some not. One of the women lying there had been one of my last births before I left last night. She had hypertension but was still nursing her baby with a smile when I arrived.
Heather, Diane, a midwife from Phoenix Indian Hospital and Tina, a labor nurse from Illinois wanted to work in the labor unit today so I went to antepartum and postpartum. My translator Isabelle was awesome and we had two nursing students with us. We went bed to bed and talked to every woman. I usually got their history, why they were there and how they were doing. We did lots of teaching on wound care, signs of infection, nutrition, breastfeeding and hemorrhage. I went back and forth from labor and delivery to the other units to help as needed. There were many more births today including a couple of HIV positive women. There was a woman having her 7th baby that had transferred from an even smaller town called Thomasique. She had been in labor for 2 days and was refusing to push her baby out. I think she knew it was bigger than her other babies (which is uncommon in Haiti because everyone is malnourished) but mostly because she wanted a tubal. She eventually got her cesarean and her tubal.
I returned to the postpartum floor and found the mother whose baby I had resuscitated yesterday and she had still not met her yet. So I helped her get clean and dressed and took out her iv and we walked over to the pediatric unit to meet her daughter. I got her a chair and put her baby in her arms and she smiled with tears in her eyes saying merci. Her daughter had not had anymore seizures today but was still on oxygen and an IV. The peds day shift nurse did not know if the baby had anymore seizures overnight because nurses in Haiti do not always give report. Sometimes they just leave when their shift is over and it is so busy the oncoming nurse does not have time to read the chart. Every bed has been full inn the hospital and their are people lined up in the hallways with sick loved ones in their arms hoping to be seen and cared for. It is hard to hear the cries of hungry sick babies all day and many are too sick to even fuss and just lay listless in their mothers arms.
Heather and I headed back to the house for lunch and decided to go to Bason Zim waterfalls this afternoon since she is leaving on Friday and will not be able to join us when we usually go on Friday. It was a hot day and the generator was out at the house so we had no electricity in the house which meant no fans, so the idea of swimming at the falls sounded awesome. Mindy and Diane went with us as well as our driver Ronell and our other driver Jaenel and two translators, Kelby and Kenel. The drive takes about 45 minutes and some of the roads are very rough and we cross through a few streams. Their are people bathing and washing their clothes and motorcycles in the rivers. Trash lines the streets and goats, pigs, dogs and chickens run across the road. We drive past shack after shack with half naked children running about yelling Blan Blan (white white) as we drive by.
When we arrived at the falls it was as breathtaking as ever. Turquoise water cascading down the mountainside. The town of Bason Zim is very rural and very poor. There are droves of mostly barefoot and malnourished children waiting to be your tour guide up the mountain for their tip. Two and three kids grab each hand and arm to "help" you up the mountain. We hiked to the voodoo cave where there was a couple of people lighting a candle for a wish and then hiked to the pools where you can see the water come down the mountainside. At the top is the cave with bats a hundred feet above you and there is tunnel that slaves used to go to escape the French to get to the next town. We hiked back down and it was time to tip the kids. They were so very desperate and all wanted a dollar. We had to give the last few dollars to our translator to hand out because it was getting to out of control. Then we all went swimming. It was the first time I had felt cool since arriving in Haiti. We relaxed and floated around for a while before heading home.
It was one of our translators birthdays so we all worked together and made an amazing spaghetti dinner and I baked some of the brownies I brought. It was quite a feast topped off with some Haitian beer. We all sat outside and talked for hours. I absolutely love spending time with such incredible women. I spent a long time visiting with Monica who is a middle aged woman here from Ohio State University training and setting up a neonatal unit. The work and community outreach she has done has been incredible. She will be here most of the next year and then will reproduce the program most likely in Ethiopia. I look forward to staying in touch with her and learning from all she does and will do for global health.