The Global Health medical team completed its first week treating patients in Haiti. They are staying north of Port-au-Prince in a tent compound established by the aid group Partners In Health and have access to fresh drinking water, showers and two MREs (Meals Ready To Eat) per day. Some team members developed a bartering system with military personnel to exchange their Power Bars with MREs of spicy chicken in a bag.
“MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) are delicious in the middle of the night,” explains Global Health volunteer Warren Frankenberger, a nurse in CHOP’s emergency department.
Resources, not just food for the medical workers, are scarce everywhere in Haiti. The team rushes blood back to a makeshift Red Cross area in hopes of salvaging a unit of O-positive blood, and shuttles oxygen tanks from tent to tent, hoping they don’t run out. They are conserving glucose strips for those who “really” need it, and there is one ventilator operating in the entire hospital compound.
“This is triage at its core,” observes Frankenberger.
A great struggle for the team is witnessing the end of life that could be prevented in better circumstances, and balancing that with their ability to relieve suffering which they are doing continuously. In these difficult times, our CHOP volunteers stand side by side with the families, other doctors, military paramedics and nurses from several different countries, their heads bowed while a someone says a prayer and they share in this experience of humanity.