Saturday, September 11, 2010

Wednesday August 18

Wednesday: High 39.4 Low 27.3

I had a great day today. Nathan the assistant administrator talked to me a few days ago about a workshop for maintenance persons and Bio-med technicians put on by Med Share. He wondered if I was interested in attending and that he was sending Samuel and that we should take some of our malfunctioning equipment along for the course as it was hands on training being offered. It was originally scheduled for two days but for some reason it was down graded to a one day workshop. I of course said ‘YES’ and so today was the day and at 8:00 am, our driver Richard picked us up and took us across town to Grace Children‘s Hospital, about one hour and twenty minutes away. Our instructor has eighteen years experience in the field and received the Bio-medical Engineer of the Year Award for the state of Georgia last year. It was something else working around him. I’d love to shadow him for a week or two. The group attending the workshop Some of the equipment we took to the seminar Instructor for the Biomed equipment workshop The morning was mostly basic trouble shooting as the twenty plus people in attendance were a mix of Users (Doctors, Nurses, Lab Techs and others) and Technicians (general Maintenance to Bio Tech Engineers). After a sub sandwich lunch, (my first bread since arriving here) we started into an actual project. It was a Binocular Microscope that kept blowing the bulbs. We were able to pin point the problem and although we didn’t fix it, the instructor put someone at Grace in charge of the repair. This instructor travels all over third world countries teaching technicians how to troubleshoot and repair their own equipment. Like he says for the lack of knowledge on how to trouble shoot and diagnose problems, which in many cases are very minor, millions of dollars worth of usable and much needed medical equipment collects dust in some corner. He went beyond isolating a circuit board and tossing it, he went inside the circuit board to the root of the problem. That’s important here and many other places as well because components must be shipped from outside the country at great expense and down time.

An accordian calapse

Some demolished Buildings On the way home from that I got some great shots of some of the extensive damage some buildings suffered during the earthquake. A lot of it has been cleared away or levelled and built upon already so it isn’t as noticeable, but there are still areas in the city where nothing has been done yet. You may find a whole city block where everything is fine and then one building in the middle just crumbled, or a huge strong looking building that has buckled and on either side of it everything is fine. Amazing! The Presidential Palace is one of those buildings that has not been touched, it’s huge dome leaning precariously forward. In the whole area surrounding it the buildings were destroyed and for the most part are cleaned up and gone. It appears to have been the “Capital Hill” of Port au Prince.

Presidential Palace with it's leaning dome

Tuesday August 17

Tuesday: High 34 Low 25.8 Today was a real maintenance day. I changed out a case of 30 four foot fluorescent tubes. The place was getting very dark in spots. Once people caught on to what I was doing both local staff and patients started coming and requesting me to come into there areas or rooms to fix lights. In the process I must have found a dozen or more ballasts that are fried. The one supply room was so dark I could hardly see to put tubes in. I don’t know how David our supply man could even find anything in there. I replaced one ballast in there and have another to do yet. I will need to get at least one more case of tubes and maybe more to finish replacing the burned out ones. The four ballasts I purchased will be used up as well. I need to get a case of them as well next time we get supplies.

Main floor Nurse Station with the doors to the OR directly behind
One of the Nurse Practitioners caught me in the hall and asked if I could do a job in a patient’s room. He is a twenty-seven year old who was injured in a car accident and is paralyzed from the waist down. The NP said there was no light in his room so I went to check. The overhead light was ok but the bathroom light was out and a fixture over his sink had fallen off of the wall and was resting on top of the medicine cabinet /mirror. It may have come off the wall in the earthquake, I don’t know but I gave the glass shade a good wash, bolted it back together as nothing was broken, put it back on the wall with two new bulbs and, viola! What a difference.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Monday August 16

Monday: High 38.4 Low 27.4
Today was interesting. I worked on a few different odds and ends, putting electrical wall plates on filling water jugs, (a daily job so patients and staff have drinking water) and a few lights (that’s on going). My roommates and I went on a little excursion out of the compound and down the street to the Grocery Store where I bought a real loaf of brown bread, two tomatoes, 3 cucumbers, laundry soap, beverage flavour crystals, mayo and a box of Corn Flakes which cost me about $20.00. I also bought some little flat buns and some tasty muffin type buns from a street vendor.
This afternoon I was talking with Jeanty, (pronounced Jon-tee), one of our faithful Haitian translators/ social worker/ good will ambassador, about whether he knew of someone who could cut my hair. He said yes he did and would call and see if and when he could do it. A few minutes later he caught me and said, “my friend will be here in ten minutes.” He assured me he could cut straight hair. Bernard the Barber
Bernard arrived a while later with two combs and a razor blade. I asked if he had ever cut straight hair before and he said he had so we found an empty room and went at it. We didn’t have a mirror so Jeanty would take pictures of the progress with his cell phone and show them
to me for my input. He was incredible with that razor blade. I kept thinking he was either going to cut me or himself in the process but neither happened. He even gave me a shave as well with that blade just held in his hand. He only asked $15.00 for it and everyone here seemed to think it was a great cut.
Jeanty, his Fiance and Bernard
Since Jeanty knows most of the people around here and the patients and their conditions and situations, the volunteers quite often rely on him to distribute things that they have brought down here to leave behind for people that need them. I had told him a few days ago that I had a tent for someone if he knew of a need. After the hair cut, Jeanty pulled me aside and told me Bernard needed a tent and that if I wanted to give it to him I should get it and come with him and his girl friend as they were going to travel with Bernard. So I grabbed it and my camera and we left the hospital compound and down the hill two blocks to the main street. Jeanty flagged A Tap Tap (in this case a small old Toyota pickup) with 8 or 9 people already in it, and on we got. Three more people climbed on before we got to our destination. We walked several blocks to where Bernard’s family were camped where he greatfully accepted the tent, then on to Jeanty’s girlfriend’s house where she broke out a watermelon for us. Jeanty then showed me his church and the school that it supports with 8 to 9 hundred students, then back on a Tap Tap to the hospital.
Typical little Tap Tap
When we returned, I got to listen in on the last half of a School Board meeting in Bella Coola by Skype. It was a little choppy and at times hard to hear the members comments but on the whole surprisingly good for the state of our internet lately.

Sunday August 15

Sunday: High 37.4 Low 27.6 Sundays are always slower around here as the clinic is closed so it’s mainly walk in emergencies and our in patients to care for. As far as Maintenance is concerned, less people around means more room to get into things that are difficult to do on a regular day. I chose to work in the OR because only one of the three oppretories were going to be used. I washed out fixtures and lenses, wiped down tubes and replaced several burned out ones.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Saturday August 14

Saturday: High 39 Low 27.3

Sunrise over the bay in Carrefour (Port au Prince)
Sunrise from the roof top of the hospital
I awoke this morning at about 5:20. I had been thinking it would be neat to be up on the roof of the hospital some morning and watch the sun rise so this morning I thought ok, the sun isn’t up yet, maybe this is the day. So I rolled out of bed, dressed and slipped out and up onto the roof just as the sun was starting to slide into sight. I got some awesome pictures then sat up there and read in the “coolness” of the morning for a while.

Looking west over Port au Prince at sunrise English Church was at 7:30 as usual which I attended. Following the service, 8:30 ish, a car and driver was supposed to come and pick up a group that had planned a trip for the day to Jacmel. I had been told I could go along but then last night Amy came to me apologizing for some lack of communication and that she didn’t think there would be room for me after all. Then this morning she came to me after church and said that one of our nurses, Jessica, might decide to stay back and rest today and if she did there might be room for me. A few minutes later, I saw Jessica talking to Amy and overheard her say she was too tired and she was just going to try to get some sleep. So Amy came back and told me there was room and I hurried off to get ready. I needn’t have hurried though as our driver didn’t come until almost 10:00.

Roadside markets in a village on the road to Jacmel

The road to Jacmel winds over a mountain pass through villages with street venders lining the road, which is a typical sight here in Haiti. This road was paved but with sharp corners, switchbacks and steep grades up to 22%. The scenery was gorgeous. Quite a welcome sight after ten days in the city.

Some of the scenery through the mountains

Looking back towards Jacmel from near the sumit of the mountain road betweenPort au Prince and Jacmel

We were told we needed to hire a guide so we hired a fellow to get us out to “Bassin Bleu” which is a beautiful little waterfall that runs through a rocky gorge in the hills above Jacmel. The stream flowing from it forms deep pools of emerald green water. Some of our group climbed 30 feet or so up the rocks beside the falls and jumped off into the pool below. It took quite a bit for some of them to psych themselves enough to jump.
Beautiful Bassin Bleu
It’s apparently a popular tourist and local destination as we met quite a few groups on our hike back out. One such group had maple leaves on their packs so we exchanged greetings. They were from Vancouver. I don’t know what they are doing here but there are hoards of Aid Agencies here from all over the world including the UN.
After our hike out and then our four by four ride down to the valley floor including fjording a river which was up to the doors of the 4x4, we went to the beach in Jacmel. There were many little booths in a large semi circle surrounding an open area filled with clusters of tables and chairs, some with umbrellas over them. The tables were colour coded in little sections. We decided that the different coloured groups belonged to different booths. Some in our group ordered chicken, some fish, and some fried banana or plantain. When my order arrived, which was supposed to be plantain, a third of the plate was covered with a pile of some kind of cubed pan fried meat. This we were told was “free lamb“. There was also coleslaw which was quite spicy, a couple slices of tomatoes and a small wedge of head lettuce plus the fried plantain. I wondered if I would pay for it but I ate everything including a little bit of the lamb anyway as I was very hungry. Then the long 2.5 hour mountainous ride home in the jump seats of the Nissan Pathfinder, about half of it in the dark. I popped a few charcoal caps when I got home for good measure and was fine.
The river we Crossed in the Pathfinder to get from
Jacmel to Bassin Bleu

Friday August 13


High 31.2 Low 26.6

Today started earlier than normal. Usually I get up between 6:00 and 6:15 am and have until 7:30 to myself. At that time we all gather on the front steps of the Hospital for a short devotional and get our directions for the day, then off to our various duties. This morning however, I got up at 5:45 and by 6:15 was in the OR working on lights so I could be finished and out before the day’s surgeries started. By 8:30, I was out of Theatre #1 and on to Theatre # 2 where there was a light out in the cam arm, and several overhead lights non-functioning. I had to solicit some help from Kristen, one of our volunteer PT’s that was leaving this morning, in getting the 36 inch lens and frame (bezel) back on. Once she came to help then suddenly two local workers came as well. It was great! By 10:00 I was finished with all I could do as I had used up my supply of tubes and ballasts so I went for breakfast.

Ron and Lorna went with Richard, the driver to Eco Depot today to pick up more supplies. I had planned on going with them but they were ready to go before I was finished in the OR so I told Paul, a new fellow here to go with them. They had hoped to go to a real Super Market and pick up some things and stop along the way at some roadside stands for some pineapple, tomatoes, cucumbers and mangoes but it apparently didn’t work out….they came back with only hardware supplies. Sometimes it is hard to do anything unscheduled as the driver has other commitments and other ideas.

I was just relaxing a little after breakfast when a truck arrived from ADRA with 1500 cases of Ped-Lite. We had known it was coming today, just didn’t know when. For the next two and one half hours we were going flat out moving boxes inside. It became a constant struggle to get the local helpers to understand that those boxes were not footballs and that if you throw them on the ground you will break the box and spill the contents and sometimes break the bottles. They would finally slow down after much persuasion by a few who knew what we were trying to accomplish but within two minutes they would be back to full steam ahead with boxes flying through the air and tumbling over and over. Then two or three would break and then someone would have to stop them so it could be picked up, then it would all resume again.

It was piled all the way to the gate on the right at the bottom. 
Some got moved before I got my video.
This cicular ramp goes from ground level to the second floor.
It completely surrounds the Chapel.

Wow what a workout. I was bushed as I hadn’t had lunch, the only meal provided here, and it was 3:00 pm. Fortunately there was still a bowl of soup and a cup of limeade left for me in the staffroom which I made short work of. After eating, I called it a day and just worked on my blog.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Thursday August 12

High 32.3 Low 26.6

I’ve been here a week now but it seems like I’ve been here a lot longer in some ways.
A little slower of a day today with a variety of different things to do. Tonight as I was working on my blog, Nathan came in and said, “do you want to go on an excursion with me?” So off we went. There is a large white Canadian tent which has inflatable pillars that hold it up. These are controlled by three air pumps which maintain a specified pressure in these columns. So every time the power goes out for an extended period of time, the tent starts to slowly descend upon it’s inhabitants. Well Nathan had gotten word that the tent was collapsing even though the power had not gone out. I knew it had been raining so suspected a wet connection some where out there. Sure enough there was a breaker tripped and actually the receptacle had gotten hot enough to be all blackened like something had shorted. We searched around the tent tucking the connections inside after drying them and disconnected all the little wires and make shift connections to peoples lights and fans in their tents, found another receptacle to plug the power cord into and, voila, the tent began to rise again.
Canada Tent

Shortly after coming in from the above excursion, the surgeons came up from the OR. I had been wondering how the lights were in there since every other room in the hospital seems to have one or several lights and or ballasts out. So Kevin, one of the surgeons took me down where I discovered only one out of four fixtures in each operating room (there are two) were working properly. One fixture in each of them was totally dead. I worked in OR #1 for a while but couldn’t finish anything as I needed supplies from the Maintenance Room and Ron, who had the key, was in bed so will work on that first thing in the morning before they start surgeries.

The rest of the day I worked on lights, helped unload a shipment of 100 plus cases of Ped-lite and other odds and ends. 

There are three kids that live here at the hospital that you would just love to death. One little guy, Junior, is a little nut case. Mischievous, energetic, happy and always smiling, outgoing not to mention being a total clown doesn't totally describe him. He is ten years old and lost his mom two years ago. Three weeks ago he lost his dad to aids. He is HIV positive but you would never know it. He is such a cute kid who loves music and can dance up a storm to his own singing. Then there are two sweet little girls here. Mia is seven and lost her left leg in a car accident. She is mostly in a wheelchair but has been fitted with an artificial leg for which she is getting physio every day and coming along very well.  She is so cheerful and friendly as well and loves to learn peoples names and call out to them. Miranda is elven I think. She obviously had a very mangled leg I think from a car accident. She is also in a wheel chair with one leg elevated. She is also so cheerful and a big tease. She likes to call my name every time she sees me mostly because I think she likes the sound of saying my name so I always say hers back the way she says it (Mee-rrr-anda). She is also a cute kid.

Mia trying out her new leg.
Mia taking a rest at Physio

Jean Junior posing with Volunteer Staff:
 Nurse Jessica and Translator