Thursday, July 1, 2010

Team Sinai Impacts Port au Prince

Without using superlatives at the risk of offending our many other wonderful volunteers that we have hosted Haiti, I will say that the recent visit of "Team Sinai" was one of the most impressive to date. This team of 18 people from the well known International Center for Limb Lengthening at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore was led by Dr. John Herzenberg and his wife Merril. Although their stay at Hopital Adventist d'Haiti was only a brief 7 days their volunteer activities started long before and still continue. Due to their extensive trip preparation they came knowing what to expect, properly equipped and even speaking some Creole phrases.

From patient nutrition to clocks on the wall, they came prepared with all the details. The extensive array of surgical equipment and medical supplies that they brought were essential for performing a variety of surgical procedures. During their stay more than 50 surgical cases were realized. In addition to the surgical accomplishments, they enhanced the entire infrastructure to support our patients before and after surgery, and assure good outcomes. Merril even risked a trip across Port au Prince in a taptap to donate her own blood for one of our critical patients.

In spite of volunteers subsidizing the once a day meal cost for our patients, proper nutrition in many of our critically ill patients has still been a challenge. Merril was able to acquire a large supply of Plumpy Nut which the team Sinai members used to top off all of their baggage to the maximum weight restrictions. She also procured the donation of a similar product Medika Mamba which is produced in Haiti and was delivered in a large quantity to our hospital during their stay. Our Haitian patients found both of these products to be quite appealing and made significant progress on their nutritional status and wound healing.

Cases during the week included open reduction of fractures, pedicle screws for a spine fracture-dislocation, hemiarthroplasties for femoral neck fractures, percutaneous pinning of femoral neck fracture, SIGN interlocking nails for acute and old tibia and femur fractures, osteotomies for malunion/nonunion, bone grafting of nonunions, growing rods for osteogenesis imperfecta, external fixator cases, Ilizarov bone transport, wound debridement, VAC changes, and elective clubfeet surgery.

Dr. Herzenberg, who is sought after internationally for his treatment of clubfoot chiefed our Wednesday clubfoot clinic. Mothers who had traveled across Port au Prince, patiently waited for hours, then departed graciously after their children were casted. Although content and thankful little did they know the world class service that they were receiving.

The shared belief of the Jews and Adventists to remember the Sabbath day was a highlight of the week. At sundown on Friday night candles were lit in the Jewish tradition and time was taken to rest. Several emergent cases were necessary to perform on the Sabbath holiday, but this special time of the week helped us to reflect on the real reason we are here to serve - for the our love of God and our fellow man.