Today has been totally crazy!!
We realized that most of the over-the- counter medicines, the things most used in the clinic, were nearly gone. We were out of vitamins, antacid, and pain reliever. Also, the glasses most needed by patients were gone. We knew that all patients expect us to give them something to take home. We knew that there would be lots of patients today — what to do?
I think we came up with a great solution and I wish we had started doing this from Day 1. We had brought many plastic dropper bottles as well as some bleach powder. We mixed up the bleach solution and filled the bottles.
After each patient was examined in the clinic they assembled in another room to attend a cholera class. We discussed what cholera is; how to prevent it; how to treat it. Across the board, everyone knows at least one person who has died from cholera. After the class, each person was given a bottle of bleach, a piece of soap and five oral rehydration packets. I lost track of how many classes were taught. Some of the classes had more than 40 students. I think we began a real community education program. And now we are committed to providing bleach on an ongoing basis. I think this will have a significant impact.
By 5 a.m. the soccer field near the clinic was filled with patients. I have not heard the tally of how many patients we treated but it was a lot.
We “admitted” one patient for overnight observation; a woman who was several days postpartum. Her baby died and she had a very high temperature. We set up a hospital bed, started an IV, gave an antibiotic and took care of her. The day ended when a woman came in with cholera–she had been sick since yesterday. She carried her to the cholera clinic and started two IV’s to get her rehydrated.
There was a near riot because people were tired of waiting. One of us was jostled around as he was giving out tickets. At one time my classroom was rushed by about 50 unruly people anxious to get the bleach, soap and rehydration packets.
Through all this we have found out that we won’t be able to fly out of Port-au-Prince until Wed at the earliest. I got an e-mail from the U.S. Embassy suggesting that we stay put in Medor. We’re trying to arrange to have a helicopter come here, fly us to Port-au-Prince, transfer to a small private plane for shuttle to the Dominican Republic in hopes of getting a flight home.
More to come!