Michael Page speaks to the Haitian community of Sassier, Haiti. Dr. Page is an emergency physician from Holland Hospital who organized our nine-person medical team in Haiti in collaboration with Zanmi Sasye.
West Michigan doctors, nurses help Haitians suffering aftermath of earthquake & hurricane.
Heidi Russell, Ph.D.
In the book Mountains Beyond Mountains (by Tracy Kidder), Dr. Paul Farmer states, “You should compare suffering. Which suffering is worse. It is called triage” (286). Being in Haiti puts everything into perspective – a friend of mine noted that it is like going to a spiritual chiropractor for an adjustment – an adjustment on how I view the world and my own place in the world. I take for granted the ability to turn on a faucet and wash my hands. Everyone says cholera is easy to prevent; it just takes proper hand washing. But how do you wash your hands when you do not have water? I carried a bottle of hand sanitizer with me at all times; others don’t have that luxury. I watched the people of Sassier come to the pharmacy and receive Tylenol and antacids with incredible gratitude. I don’t think twice about my ability to go to my medicine cabinet and pull out either of these meds or others when I need them. More seriously, I never doubt that when I get sick and my doctor prescribes medication, I can go to Walgreen’s and pick it up. This past week I watched while the doctors diagnosed a man and prescribed medication that we did not have in our clinic pharmacy. I then watched them call the pharmacy and then the hospital in Jérémie to no avail – no one had the medication. I heard the doctors and nurses talking about the children with asthma – “They need inhalers. We don’t have any.” What would it be like to live in a world where the medicines you needed, which at times your very life depended on, were simply not available?
On the positive side, I saw children and adults receive the meds they needed for malaria. I saw people receive life-saving antibiotics. I saw wounds, abscesses, and infections treated. I saw IV fluids revive a man as if they rose him from the dead. I watched as we toured the hospital in Jérémie and the local doctor asked our medical team about medicine for a man who had broken his leg. The medicine would cost $10 a day – $10 he did not have. One of our nurses had brought what he needed with her from the states. Arrangements were made to get him what he needed. (more…)