Cholera 17 – Tents and More Tents

Here is another taste of what it is  like to provide cholera relief in remote Haiti.

Cholera patients come in all kinds. What they have in common is that they are sick with a terrible illness caused by an unrelenting organism – vibrio cholerae – that frequently causes significant diarrhea and vomiting, etc.

Not all patients become deathly ill though, and so we of SOS DRS have to be able to separate people from one another – those who are very sick from those who can be treated with oral solution, and then those who need to be evaluated and observed and treated only minimally.

And we also have to have a place to put supplies and medical staff who are helping the patients: you can’t stray too far from the cholera patients because they need constant care. Some need numerous bags of IV fluids every day and that means a process: starting an IV in a dehydrated patient; placing the bag; changing the bag; restarting the IV when access is lost, etc.

Part of my job as the coordinator of Project Perpetual Help Haiti is to make sure the patients and the staff have enough materials and the conditions to work. And I am doing that in strict collaboration with Theresia Sinaga who is the program director of our cholera relief efforts.

On January 10  Theresia, MarcDaly and I were in Port au Prince together. I had just returned from 10 days in Grand Anse. T and MD had been in PaP for only 3 days after spending 14 days in GA themselves. They are the ones who really got the cholera response going when we made a decision to respond to the epidemic in addition to our hurricane and earthquake relief efforts.

That was a decision that took them right before Christmas to Les Irois where for days they took care of patients and helped to deliver medications. Then there was an outbreak in Carcasse on December 26. A series of events took place that have helped us take care of hundreds of cholera patients who would have otherwise likely died. Of course we have been working together with locals, especially two nurses in Carcasse – Veronica and Vendredi – whose efforts have been close to heroic: working with cholera patients ia a 24-hour-job. And of course we have done all this together with Fr. Verdieu, a priest of the Diocese of Jeremie and the Pastor of St. Joseph’s Parish in Carcasse.

Collaboration is important. And recognizing one’s limitations is important as well. SOS DRS  is a growing NGO that is part of the CTF network, and it is now working in a very difficult situation in remote Haiti. One thing we do not have access to is tents. And we cannot make them ourselves. And patients need to sleep and be treated somewhere. So when Therese, MarcDaly and I were together on 1/10 we went to the healthcare officer of a UN organization to ask for tents. It is usually this UN organization that provides tents in disaster situations.

And then I wrote a follow-up e-mail to reiterate our need. Here is that e-mail, which gives you a sense of what we are doing in GA and a taste of what it is  like to provide relief in remote Haiti.

From: sfbrome2@hotmail.com
Subject: Tents for Cholera Treatment Centers in Grand Anse – (SOS Doctors) – Fr. Scott Binet
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2011 18:27:49 +0100

Dear C,

Health and peace to you.

We met last night at the UN logistics base in PaP. I was with Therese and MarcDaly, two other members of SOS DRS (SOS Doctors). As I indicated SOS DRS is presently authorized to respond to the cholera epidemic in Grand Anse, which we have been doing since mid-December Right now we have 2 Cholera Treatment Centers – one is in Les Irois and one is in Carcasse. And we are preparing a mobile cholera unit because the number of cases is increasing and preparing for mobile medical work. Thus we need some help – specifically with tents.

As I mentioned last night, we could really benefit from 8 tents – 4 large tents [72 m] and 4 medium tents:

Here is how we think we will use the tents:

CTC – Les Irois:
1. Large Tent – [CTF – pt. care – ORS, less serious on IVF]
2. Medium Tent – more serious patients – IVF, etc.]

CTC – Carcasse:
1. Medium Tent – more serious patients – IVF, etc.]

Mobile Cholera [in case of another outbreak]
1. Large Tent – [CTF – pt. care – ORS, less serious on IVF]
2. Medium Tent – more serious patients – IVF, etc.]

Mobile Medical [to underserved areas]
1. Large Tent – pt registration, evaluation, consultation, treatment, pharmacy area]
2. Medium Tent – for patients who need to be treated and then observed while supine – IVF, some storage
3. Large tent – for the team – personal items, sleeping, supplies

I did not mention this last night, but If by chance you have 20-24 gauge catheters for IV fluid administration, that would be great. We are in significant need.

My telephone number is 3858-4909. I can be reached via e-mail as well. Theresia and Mark will pick up the supplies. Her number is 3858-4904.
Father Scott F. Binet, MD, MI

 We will see what the response is. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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