Thursday, September 08, 2011

Nowhere To Go

I've been with my husband, Dr. John Carroll, as he's worked in different settings in Haiti: temporary clinics, hospitals, permanent clinics, whatever room we might be staying in. One of the consistent frustrations for John is that after he's helped a patient as much as he can, he often doesn't have a place to refer them to get more care. A patient might need a blood test, an x-ray, or to be admitted to the hospital. Frequently, there are no good options for the patient. Either there is no place close that can help them or they don't have the money to pay for care. John takes his time with patients and does everything he can for them. But the hardest thing about practicing medicine in Haiti for him, is when these patients leave him and he knows they need more medical care.

I got a small taste of this frustration when I worked at discharge planning at the Navy clinic. Many of the patients we saw would have qualified for one of the USNS Comfort's surgical slots if there were any left. In particular, there was one woman who had female problems such that she was bleeding. She was wearing a print sundress and carrying around a large, cotton-lined pad that she would sit on. At the discharge planning table, she was referred to a gynecological clinic. But she told us that she had no money to pay for this care. She said, "Can't they at least give me something for the pain?" I had some ibuprofen in my backpack, and I gave her several of them.

It felt like a very weak response.

Above is a view of the USNS Comfort from Cite Soleil.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Labor Day in Haiti

If jobs and employment are a big deal now in the United States, in Haiti, with an 80 percent unemployment rate, they are always a big deal.

Of course, it's not as if Haitians aren't working. Like the woman pictured above, the Haitians have plenty of work they do to survive--haul water, scrounge food, clean clothes. But there aren't enough paying jobs. so the majority of Haitians limp along--or not--trying to make it through another day.