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Spring 2014
BMM Current Issue
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FIELD NOTES
 
Haiti Rising
As dark as moments could be at the Haitian hospital where I worked this year, there was plenty of healing to celebrate. A diabetic man living in a tent came to our clinic with a blood sugar in the 400s and an abscess that had grown to involve most of his forearm. His wasted face and body recalled the black-and-white photographs of diabetics in the era before Banting and Best discovered insulin. After an incision and drainage, daily long-acting insulin injections, and weeks of dressing changes helped our patient heal and put on weight, we felt as though we had truly seen Lazarus rise. The wound care nurse sang “Reveye Laza o,  reveye Laza o,” the patient beamed, several onlookers danced in the waiting area, and we all praised the gracious God who had restored health against the odds.

My wife and I moved to Haiti in August 2011 after I completed my third year rotations at Alpert Medical School.
Rachel taught English and Spanish at Louverture Cleary School (LCS) in Croix-des-Bouquets. Directed by Patrick Moynihan ’87 through The Haitian Project, LCS is a free secondary school for gifted students from poor Haitian families. I lived at the school and worked at St. Luc Hospital near the US Embassy. My primary
goals were to become fluent in Kreyol and prepare for a career in surgery and medical education in Haiti. Under the direction of the Haitian administrators at St. Luc, my work included clinical service, research, and teaching.

A Clinical Education

In the wound care clinic and intensive care unit, I saw the heartbreaking toll of a medical infrastructure that provides inconsistent access to primary care and basic surgical procedures. Patients with extensive burns,
diabetic ulcers, and fungating cancers often presented after suffering at home for weeks. Our hospital was
building an operating room, but we lacked surgical staff. I spent considerable time on the phone with nearby hospitals, hoping to arrange transfers for our most urgent surgical cases.

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