Friday, April 3, 2015: We’ve come to the final work day of the Sisters of Mercy Urgent Care Team #13 in Haiti. We started at the Alpha Omega Clinic in Cabaret with a prayer and exchange of reflections upon our visit. Dr. Ellen Lawson is on her 11th trip here and has deep insight of this mission. Our sons Patrick and Glenn both spoke of receiving as much or more than they gave. Glenn said that this visit “recharged” us. I agree. This model feels right to me since we are helping build a permanence in this medically underserved community. We come and go, but the Alpha Omega Ministry continues. The workday was short due to Good Friday. There were only two ultrasounds scheduled so they sent me with the mobile team. I even got a stethoscope. On the way to clinic in Arcahaie, we were stopped for ten minutes by a Good Friday procession. It was attended by nearly everyone in town and came complete with a man carrying a cross. As soon as I saw it I knew the clinic schedule would be light. I only saw a few patients but it was fun. Dr. Lawson helped with my rusty prescribing. One patient was a 30 year-old male with diabetes. I was impressed with how many visits he had made to the mobile clinic as I scanned his chart. They are watching his sugars tightly. This wouldn’t be happening without the mobile program.
After clinic, we packed up and said our goodbyes to the wonderful mobile staff. We then headed a little further north to a resort. Yes I said resort. We were just looking and doing some “souveniring” from the local vendors. Is there such a thing as tourism? Come take a tour of the tourists! That’s what we were doing. It was something. I didn’t know this existed in Haiti. Immaculate grounds with an open air restaurant. Pool with tiki bar, beautiful beach overlooking crystal clear water in the shadow of cloud-covered mountains. It’s about $125 a night. Not too many locals can afford it as most Haitians live on a dollar a day. Talk about juxtaposition! Our next stop was Drs. Vlad and Merline’s home to enjoy lunch and to visit with their young children VJ and Annie. We finally scored some fried plantains! I even got to see the “banan pressé” used to flatten the fruit. VJ spent the entire meal in Ellen’s lap sharing her plate and fork. We are now back at the compound packing up and enjoying our last few minutes on the roof. I feel tired…and recharged. Bonswa, John Ende, MD
[After an over-sold return flight from Charlotte to Asheville, Team Mercy #13 arrived safely home very late the night before Easter.]
Thursday, April 2, 2015: Today I did more ultrasounds and the mobile team served Tent City. They had their busiest clinic. Tent City is very close to where we stay in Bon Repos. It is an area that is being settled by those displaced by the 2010 Earthquake. The “tents” are nearly all cinder block now. These homes cover the hillside as it sweeps up from Route 1. It’s crowded and poor, even for Haiti. After work we got a real pick me up at my personal favorite orphanage in Bon Repos. The trip is not easy. It involves traversing Bon Repos at rush hour, no easy task. Then you wind your way back through narrow walled streets with pot holes bigger than children’s lawn pools. It is a maze that ends at a gated door. A quick honk and the gate rolls back inviting the van into the quiet courtyard. The children all greet you with hugs and smiles. No one is un-hugged by everyone. Then they take their places under the almond tree and sing you a song. It’s really a treat. We then gave to the exceeding polite children some flip flops, soccer balls and lollipops, but we always receive more than we give. That’s how the whole trip is. Bonswa, John Ende, MD
Wednesday, April 1, 2015: Today was a busy day that started early. We participated in a big celebration marking three years of the fixed clinic serving patients. I did a full schedule of ultrasound patients in half a day. Lots of interesting cases. We were late starting due to the celebration. Several gallbladders were contracted as our patients were enjoying the bounty of the fete before their exams. The mobile clinic was up on the mountain in Tapyo. Although our team made the long and beautiful drive up there, no patients were waiting. They tracked down a newborn to hand out a diaper kit and then it seemed that babies were coming from everywhere. Many kits were happily distributed and received. We all regrouped at the end of the day and traveled to some newly purchased land that will ultimately house the permanent fixed clinic. It was all a huge surprise revealed to the staff who had a great time guessing what the big surprise might be. Dr. Vladimyr Roseau and Dr. Ellen Lawson broke ground, and we all applauded except for a concerned neighbor. He came over and began arguing with our whole group in creole. I thought he might be saying that we were on his land, but it turned out that he just wanted to make sure we weren’t doing any voodoo! The group reassured him that voodoo was not involved and he then asked for employment once construction begins. It was a great moment that you will not likely find outside of Haiti.
Tuesday, March 31, 2015: This morning we head to Tent City after we take Dr. Ende back to Caberet to crank out some more ultrasounds! Tomorrow we are supposed to work at Tapyo on the mountain, but today it rained all day. It seemed like a light steady rain during the day and it was heavier at night, but there was standing water everywhere which will worsen both cholera and mosquitoes. This evening I can say for the first time that I feel chilly in Haiti, and I put on my long sleeve shirt. We had pumpkin soup for dinner. Tomorrow is the third anniversary of opening of the Cabaret Clinic so there will be a celebration. Ellen Lawson, MD
Tuesday from Dr. John Ende’s Notes: Had a different kind of day in Haiti today. Dr. Ellen Lawson says this is the first time she has seen rain during the day, and she has been here ten times. The clinic was slow, and the mobile clinic was cancelled. We said hello to a tarantula and goodbye to a team from Wilmington. We received morning offerings from the goats of the compound. We travelled into the heart of Port Au Prince to pick up medical supplies and visit the National Museum. The Mupanah contains quite a collection and includes the anchor of the Santa Maria as well as Papa Doc Duvallier’s bowler hat and stethoscope. We got to see Haiti’s first stop light and many other intersections that could use one. I’m happy to report that the pole trade is as strong as ever. Tomorrow we will be part of a big celebration in honor of the Alpha Omega Clinic serving Cabaret for three years.
Tonight we enjoyed Joumou. This is the traditional Independence Day meal savored by all Haitians. It is pumpkin soup and had been prepared by slaves for 300 yrs. but never consumed by those that grew, harvested or cooked the ingredients. In 1804 that all changed and those newly liberated slaves celebrated their freedom with Joumou! Every Haitian loves this soup. We do too! Bonswa. John Ende, MD
We had a pleasant day in Haiti today. Fresh grapefruit juice, pineapples, eggs and bacon for breakfast at the compound. We drove to Cabaret to meet everyone, and our team went to work the mobile clinic at Bon Repos. I did one minor surgery to drain an abdominal infection. One patient received IV fluids. Cholera is back. We now have rapid tests even in the mobile clinics for HIV, cholera, typhoid and chickengunya (the mosquito-borne illness). I held a new baby at Cabaret, but she was born at home during the night when the clinic was closed. My son Glenn and Dr. John Ende’s son Patrick were a huge help to Dr. Vladimyr Roseau setting up computer connections to the TV from the lap top and DVD player and setting up programs for the new clinic manager to use remotely in the lobby for patients. Dr. John Ende did ultrasounds all day long at the fixed clinic in Cabaret, with much interesting pathology; he will have to detail that. Glenn and Patrick worked the pharmacy table at the clinic in Bon Repos. Tomorrow we are going to Tent City so we will be preparing all the diaper packs to take in the morning. This afternoon mobile clinic director Dr. Francise Milien’s Honda was dead. It was quite a circus watching five physicians on Doctors’ Day trying to start the car with rusty old jumper cables with no rubber left on the handles, wrapping them in scrap rubber and cloth. I thought we might be defibrillating someone who didn’t need it. Dr. Vlad took lead on that part while we watched. While we carry a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch at the mobile sites each day, dinner at the compound tonight included chicken legs, rice and beans and potato salad with beets. Relaxing on the roof now with a great breeze as we rest up for tomorrow! Dr. Ellen Lawson
We arrived on time and walked right through customs with no issues. Vlad picked us up himself in his truck. We have had dinner and are hot and tired. After 4 hours of sleep last night I am ready to relax now. Haiti is quiet, no demonstrations. Vlad is picking us up at 7:00 AM. Wednesday is the third anniversary of the opening of the clinic for ALOM so we will be here for the celebration. Patients from the mobile clinics are invited to attend so it will be my kind of party…all are welcome! Ellen
[Dr. John Ende (of Asheville Radiology Associates) who along with his son Patrick are on their second visit to Haiti commented: “We made it through the airport gauntlet with all nine 50 lb. bags!”]