Sunday, February 7, 2010

Feb. 6

Today started off with an interview of one of the Haitian doctors that we have been following named Pierre Paul. He looks like a linebacker but is as nice as they come and a major part of the team here. He was in the states when the quake hit and assumed his family was dead. He said he kept on dreaming that his mother was under a huge rock and that he was the only one who could lift it so she could be buried. Thankfully when he arrived he found that everyone was OK. He's one of the few.

The rest of the morning was a bit slow. We went with Joia to the general hospital, which has slowed down even more since we were there the other day. Sadly, the patients who are still there now are the chronic cases and I some ways are even tougher to see than the quake victims as they are victims of a living situation and not a natural disaster. Lots of infectious disease and lots of problems they can't nail down.

After we left the tent, I asked Joia how she keeps from crying all the time as I had had a fair amount of trouble holding it together while filming in there. She pointed out that you quickly learn that crying in there would be for her not for them and is the last thing they would need. I told her I agreed but pointed out that was the reason why she didn't, not how she didn't. She considered that and the offered up that it was probably related but that it eventually comes out in some form or another as she's doing something mundane like washing her car or opening a letter.

We then went to meet up with Dr. Paul Farmer, the founder of PIH and a real visionary. Dr. Farmer had come in the day before but had been meeting with officials and dealing with the work he and Bill Clinton are planning for the future of Haiti.

From the moment you meet him, you know this is someone special. He's the kind of guy that the room just gravitates to. Says hello to absolutely everyone knows everyone name and always has a smile. When we met up with him he had a small bag of knitted baby bonnets that his mother had made to send down.

Dr. farmer has been in Haiti for 25 years and founded PIH. They have built one hospital in Cange and rebuilt or retooled 10 others around the country that they work with but are publicly run. He graduate Harvard and decided that curing TB was going to be his mission by stopping it. He has been working in Haiti as well as many other countries around the world because he holds that the poor need first class healthcare much more than the rich do.

One of the incredible things they have done is to build a better mousetrap. He pointed out that Cange and mass general back in the states have roughly the same number of patients per year but that Cange has a 5 million dollar budget and mass generals is 2 billion. Something wrong there. He gave us a tour of a hospital they had rebuilt in Beladaire. The facility cost $700000 and was built on 9 months. It's open air except for the personal rooms because sunlight and fresh air are TB’s enemies. I have to say between that hospital and a hermetically sealed one like they have in the us where docs tell you to get out ASAP to avoid infection, I'd take Beladaire.

He took us to the TB ward and pointed out that in the states they have negative pressure rooms that cost $2000 a day. The purpose is to keep germs from leaving the room. Wanting to achieve the same outcome with less money, the rooms gave fans and the hallways open on either end and in the ceiling with fans constantly moving air. As a result all room doors will close after you and air is constantly being pumped out creating a negative pressure situation. Their rates of infection show this to work according to Dr. Farmer.

We ended up coming back to Cange with him and Joia and at staying her place tonight. He told us that in the morning before we had met up he had gone to the US comfort to assist in finding a body of a patient who has been sent there and misplaced. It's amazing that this world renowned doctor who is meeting with heads of state and inning an entire hospital system through his org would take the time to personally look for a body of one of their patients who was misplaced by an entirely different org. He eventually identified who it was.

We drove out to Cange at night and our driver Andre did an amazing job. As I mentioned last time the road is really more of a dried rock strewn riverbed than a road. It's pitch black at nifty since there are no lights except for the ridge fires that are set to burn the trees to make charcoal and there is always the potential of a goat or two at any given moment. Andre is shooting along in our van at around 70 kmh and fishtailing and slaloming as if it was nothing. I took some video and will post when I cam because it was wild.

Tonight we sleep on the floor in Cange as they are full up and tomorrow we will join in a memorial mass being performed for all the doctors here.

Heading to Miami on Monday and then home on Tuesday and I cannot wait to see my family.

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