Make a Joyful Noise, page 2
by Patty Bell
There were four of us from Norwich. Cindy Davis, a Post Anesthesia Care Unit nurse, spent the first two days in an outlying village called Miragone. She and a few others from our group set up a clinic at the cathedral. They saw hundreds of patients who had received initial treatment, but no follow up. The Bishop flew in to greet them and a riot almost broke out. The residents thought his helicopter was bringing a food drop.
Dr. Alessi, Dr. Tom Bell (my husband) and I stayed in the compound of the hospital. Dr. Alessi, a neurologist, was needed to see all of the patients with head and spinal injuries. Eventually he also took on the responsibility of coordinating the transfer of patients to and from the USNS Comfort, an American hospital ship anchored in the Port au Prince harbor.
Dr. Bell was performing surgery, visiting post operative patients (both adult and pediatric) and changing dressings in a procedure room for patients who needed anesthesia.
I was assigned a post-operative ward that started out with an adult population, but children were admitted after the pediatric ward became full. The majority of the injuries that I saw were fractures and crush injuries. The surgeries were reduction of fractures with both internal or external fixation and amputations. We also were seeing diseases such as tetanus. The villages were seeing malaria and cholera as well.
Our day began with Mass at 7 a.m. By that time, the med evac helicopters had been flying for about two hours. The beautiful circular stained-glass window behind the altar was broken and there was a crack coming down the wall, but the building was deemed safe by the Italian engineers. Mass was offered predominantly in English, but some prayers and songs were in Creole. It inspired our work for the day.