Sunday, January 31, 2010

Haitians Seeking Primary Care

By Thomas D. Kirsch, MD, MPH, FACEP
Associate Professor and Hopkins Go Team Member
Dept. of Emergency Medicine - The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Dept of International Health - The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Work here is hard- 12 hour days, essentially on your feet constantly in boiling hot tents with limited electricity.

We have truly transited to the primary care phase, although occasional people come in with untreated wounds and fractures from almost 3 weeks ago. There is so little that we can do it seems, with the limited resources we have, and even less to do for an essentially non-existent Haitian health care system. We can treat acute infections, but pretty much anything else is almost impossible.

People are pouring into us because they think that we can give them the care they can never get in Haiti - horrible and massive cancers, HIV and AIDS, chronic abdominal problems, diabetes, whatever. But all we can do is bandage, fix the acute problem and give a few pills to go and hope that maybe at some point they may get the long term health care they deserve. Still, we see 250-350 people a day and give the absolute best care we can considering the resources.

The team has been amazing and has taken over the management of the emergency department. Everyone is pulling their weight (and then some) and using their intelligence, wit and grace to make this place better everyday (despite the ongoing chaos).

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