Keeping our spirits high in Haiti

A Haitian day seems a lot longer than an American day, if that is possible. We all parted for our duties at 7 a.m., after downing a cliff bar and a cup of instant coffee.

Our nurses here, along with nurse practitioner Ann Ryan and former Akron pediatric resident Rachel, taught PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support) to the Haitian docs. PALS is a training program to help healthcare providers better respond to critically ill infants and children.

Tracey Herstich and Dr. John Pope began ice rounds, and I was sent to cover the clinic.

I don’t think anything could have prepared us for what we would encounter. The newborn I had admitted last night — and was so excited she would get surgery for her bowel obstruction — suddenly took a turn for the worse. She is not expected to make it through the day.

With the help of an interpreter, I saw more than 20 patients just in the a.m. Parents brought these sick children from far away places today because they know American providers are here. Yet, we are so limited.

Dr. Jeff Kempf is inspirational when he shares that we will change the path for many of these kids, but since so many have died already, it is hard to wrap our heads around it. Tracey was called to the floor by a nurse, and the patient had already passed away when she got there. That makes the third patient she pronounced dead today.

Illness and sadness surround us everywhere. But our blessings to touch and serve continue, as we move on to the abandoned room, a space children without families temporarily call home. These kids are adorable and we get to play with them.

Now, it is past 7 p.m., we are all tired, but Jeff never seems to get tired. He continues to work in the ER. As a group, we do not all know each other, but we have come together with the common purpose to serve. We have bonded in laughter over the silly things, like no warm water, toilets not flushing, and other endless blunders, thus keeping spirits high and laughter going.

It’s been a humbling day. Tomorrow we travel to the hospital’s orphanage. Stay tuned.

Read more about our Haiti medical mission.

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