As with all emergency departments all over the world, one never knows what crisis will present itself when the next patient walks through the door. Such is the case here in Saintard, Haiti at Hôpital L’Eglise de Dieu Réformée. As an example, last night a 5-year-old girl presented with a secondary skin infection that had turned septic, and was admitted and given IV antibiotics. A 35-year-old man came with third degree burns from his shoulders to his belt, as a propane tank had exploded into flames near him. Three shooting victims appeared at our door in the late hours after a fight had occurred in their area and they became involved in the situation. A myriad of bumps, broken bones, illnesses, unhealed wounds, a heart attack, and a joyful birth of a baby filled any remaining hours of the night shift at our small ER. This typical evening would probably slow at a busy emergency department in many big cities, but for our small rural hospital, this type of evening presents challenges, many of which are unique to a rural hospital in an under-resourced country.
IV antibiotics, bandages, pain meds, and other wound care items, for instance, are purchased by the hospital’s inventory director in Port au Prince. Often, the roads to “Port” are blocked due to rioting, shooting, or epic traffic jams. If the purchasing team can get through the road, the supply company that had the necessary ER items last trip may not necessarily have them this time. The search then begins for the needed item, may take days, and may or may not yield any results. Another attempt is then repeated during the next open trip to “the city”. And so goes the search for what is needed for the ER and for the hospital at large.
We try very hard to purchase everything in Haiti to support the local economy. Sometimes, though, based upon some of the reasons above, we supplement our local (Haiti) supply chain with things that we ship from the United States. Gloves, gauze, disinfectant, head covers, shoe covers, etc. are essential in an emergency setting and sometimes, our small rural hospital has trouble procuring these basic supplies. This year, as COVID and socio-economic stresses are on the rise here in Haiti, the needs continue to grow.
During the month of July, we are sponsoring our second annual Help for Haiti’s Healthcare Heroes (HHHH). We have made a list of supplies that can be purchased online at amazon.com, which are then shipped to the Mission Haiti Medical warehouse in the US, and then volunteers package and transport them to the wharf for shipping. (Of course, funds to help do this are also invaluable as shipping costs money, too.) We are thankful for the supplies we find in Haiti. We are thankful that we can supplement this challenging supply chain. We are thankful for your prayers and support. AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, we are thankful for God, His grace, and His provision, to help when the next patient walks through the door.