The last couple of days were hectic as we scrambled to secure placement of our last inpatients, while still dealing wth the busy clinic and some last minute surgeries. We were able to get our inpatient census to zero this morning. It was a bittersweet moment as we had grown fond of these people. Though we were happy they were getting better and moving on, we knew we were unlikely to see them again and that we would miss them.
As we loaded up into the van and said goodbye to our new friends, we suddenly had a little more work to do. A beautiful 5 year old girl in a pretty dress showed up with an acutely injured elbow. We asked the driver to wait and we went back to work. Xrays showed a badly displaced supracondylar humerus fracture. We fired the OR back up and Adam and Larry put in a nerve block. We were able to reduce and pin the fracture, put her in a splint, and then leave about an hour later. Because of traffic and our lateness we weren’t able to check out parts of the city as originally planned, but getting this little girl treated was more than worth it. What a satisfying end to our time at Double Harvest.
There is still much Orthopaedic work left to do in Haiti. Many of the fractures are healing poorly, due to infection, poor nutrition, HIV and hardware failure. Unfortunately there are many impending malunions because of limited or no early treatment. There are several individuals that we asked to come back for a future team to treat because we simply ran out of time.
As we found out most of the Orthopaedic cases encountered now are more difficult than average. In the future surgical cases will take some planning ahead in terms of equipment and surgical staging. There is no doubt that the OAM teams were of a tremendous benefit to the injured Haitians. I saw evidence of it every day. Each and every individual involved in some way, either as part of a team or as behind the scenes support, should be congratulated for their efforts in this important cause. I know that I couldn’t be more proud of Team 8. Our expectations were high, and I think this team exceded them. My thanks to all of them.
Although future visits aren’t officially planned yet, I’m aware that they are in the works. OAM has responded to the need, and I foresee that we will continue to do our best to help. Sometimes doing the right thing is inconvenient and uncomfortable, but we must always strive to do what is right. So far we’ve done the right thing in Haiti.