Service in Haiti

Julie Tsirambidis, director of Akron Children’s Hospital’s Center for Advanced Practice, traveled to Haiti Oct. 22 to 28 with a contingent of other healthcare providers from the hospital. Tsirambidis, a certified nurse practitioner, is treating children at St. Damian’s Children’s Hospital and, in this blog, she shares her experiences of working in a third-world health care system for the first time.

We finally have an Internet connection here in Haiti. I feel blessed to be safe with our Akron Children’s team here in Haiti.

Since I have had several hours to internalize my initial reactions, I am confident to say what great servant leadership we have in our team members, and through Dr. Jeff Kempf. I understand a bit more what drives him to serve.

As we sat in the airport full of groups coming to serve, I initially thought, wow! Look at all these great people here to serve. And they are great people, with ideas to serve, and a true desire to help others.

But I guess I can appreciate sister Judy and her viewpoint that there can exist a poverty tourism. I feel insignificant here. I feel exhausted. I go bed to bed seeing patients and treating them, but it seems just a bandaid. So many people come here, but we all have varying agendas, care seems fragmented.

Where is the helicopter view of what really needs to happen here for effective change? I have been encouraged to read the history here by Dr. Farmer. I will definitely do this when we return. For now, I will pick up the stethoscope and do what we can.

For one, it’s ordering antibiotics, for another, it is giving fluids for severe dehydration. For another, it is holding the child’s hand, recognizing that we are limited in resources. As the nurse here told me, it is in God’s hands now. Amen.

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