El Paso Doctors in Haiti
POSTED: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 - 9:48am
UPDATED: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - 2:26pm
Letter Describes Despair
Yesterday we continued our journey in an attempt to establish a
sattelite clinic in Crist Roi, a slum village here in Port a Prince.
It has now been partially converted into several "tent cities" as has
much the rest of the city. This particular tent city is now home to
238 displaced families. An there are many more. Utilizing scraps from their collapsed homes they rebuild and rebuild. The solidarity is beautiful.
We were accomapanied by the Italian Ministry of Civil Defense. It was
critical they showed up to see firsthand how devastated this area was
along with the absolute lack of basic necessities (ie food, running
water). They have tentatively agreed to bulild a a few latrines and
restore the plumbing and electricity of this building. It will be
powered by a fuel operatedgenerator which they have also agreed to
donate. The challenge will be providing a continuous supply of fuel.
Their Haitian reciliance is astounding. However, it can only go so
far. In the "tent city" people are having to 'recycle' water. By this
I mean using water left over from the soup to subsequently bathe in
some instances. There is absolutely no sewage system. A makeshift
outhouse approximately foot deep and along a slipperry slope and only
partially covered with wind frayed plastic banners tells the dismay.
We witnessed the remains of burned corpses lyong on the side of the
road the ashes slowly blowing into the atmosphere; a skull, a few ribs, and sometimes the remnants of whatever attire was worn prior to
Most doctors have departed now. They come for 2-3 stents and leave.
Things have slowed down dramatically but we now have the magnified
aftermath of the largely unattended/neglected Haitian healthcare system. Soon the rains will come and things will certainly get worse.
Medical personnel willing to go out into the communities, get their
hands dirty and willing to operate the not so luxurious aspects
hospital care (scut) are what is needed. Although this is strictly a
children's hospital, it has been converted to a general hospital for
the time being anticipated to last about 2-3 months.
Thanks again for everyone support. We hope to see everyone soon.
Marco Diaz, MD
Paul L. Foster School of Medicine
Family & Community Medicine