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Nov 2013 - St. Vincent's Trip

Friday, April 18, 2014

Hopefully She Plays the Flute

One of the treasures I brought with me to Haiti on this trip was a beautiful silver flute.  The request came in an email to me about a month ago, from Moliere, a Haitian man I have known for years.  Each time I see him we are at Holy Trinity Cathedral for Sunday services, and his friendly but broken English matches my earnest but broken Kreyol.  Having met his two daughters several times, I have watched them grow every year into young girls.

So when Moliere sent me an email last month telling me his youngest daughter was learning to play the flute, and had a music teacher but needed an instrument, I decided to see what I could do.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


Keys are an interesting phenomenon in Haiti. The medical clinic we work in has 4 rooms along one side of the building, and a long classroom along the other side with a pharmacy room at one end. A central hallway divides the two halves of the building, which is entered through one main door. All these rooms have their own key. Then there is the library, which we use as a nursing station and/or teaching room. And finally Pere Sadoni's office, which sometimes contains the scale for weighing (?) and often we store our supplies in there overnight.

Upon arriving at St Vincent's a curious game begins, usually headed by John who has played Find The Key many times. It goes something like this.

She Left Her Teeth in Haiti

The CBU nursing team did a fabulous job this week. Not only did they do checkups on 140 kids(and 35 adult staff), they had a Diabetic teaching session and a High Blood Pressure teaching session for many of the teachers. Creating patient brochures in Kreyol to explain diet and how high blood pressure or diabetes affects your heart and kidneys. I felt our medical clinic had advanced to an entirely new level.

The most fun teaching class had to be the TOOTHBRUSHING CLASS. Making giant teeth with plaster of paris poured into egg crates, Linda (CBU nurse), glued these onto giant pieces of red construction paper, and used silly putty for plaque and yarn for dental floss. The kids loved it!

When she was finished with her demonstration, Linda gave her TEETH MODELS to Elizabeth, the school nurse at St. Vincent's. Later on the plane ride home, as we traded stories about our week together, the other nurses teased Linda, saying She Left Her Teeth in Haiti.

Susan Nelson

Friday, April 11, 2014

Kalico Beach

Today was our last full day in Haiti. Spent at Kalico Beach, a fabulous beach resort about 1.5 hours north of Port au Prince, with crystal clear water, brightly tiled seating areas and almond trees full of fruit. Oh, and plenty of mango rum punch.

Uzoma (our cardiologist) asked us 1) do you plan to swim IN the water, 2) do you see the jelly fish in the water, and 3) those buoys out there in the water, do they have a net to keep out the sharks?

Not enough time

One of the realities of working in Haiti is the need to adapt or adjust your plans to the circumstances. Yesterday we planned to have clinic for the remaining children who had not yet been seen by the nurses, and to read the TB skin tests on the folks who had them placed on Monday and Tuesday. After lunch, the CBU Nurses planned a demonstration on proper tooth brushing (using giant teeth models made from plaster of paris in an egg crate- with yarn for dental floss!). Then we would hear the Bell choir perform for us and Mackenson would play his guitar. After that we were prepared to throw a carnival for all the children, having stuffed plastic easter eggs with mardi gras beads and cut clown faces out of cardboard the night before.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Climbing the Waterfall

Early morning on the bus at 7:30 AM, to drive to Mirebelais and see the new University Hospital built by Partners in Health. Apparently it cost 30 million US dollars to build the hospital, mostly private donations, however the 8 million dollars annual operating budget comes from the Haitian Ministry of Health. The public hospital opened 13 months ago and has 360 beds. Any patient can come to the outpatient clinic or ER and it costs 50 gourdes, or about $1.25 US to get an identity card. With that card, the patient has access to all the medical services including maternity care, emergency care, outpatient visits, X-rays, labs, inpatient hospital services, even physical therapy. They see about 600-800 outpatients per day. 56 doctors are on staff, all Haitian, with the occasional American specialist volunteer. They do 1000 prenatal visits per month and 250 deliveries, most by midwives except for the C sections. Apparently their emergency C-section rate is quite high, due to eclampsia and other high risk conditions in the patients who come to their doors. The hospital is also a training facility for residents in pediatrics, internal medicine, and surgery, and has 14 new residents (of 250 applicants) who started this year.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Out of Aspirin

It's 9 PM and we are winding down at the end of a very busy day. Sitting on the rooftop of the guesthouse, we traded stories and were grateful for a cool breeze, starlight and someone playing the trumpet nearby. Very Haiti. The power went out about 8 PM, so inside the guest house is very stuffy with no fans working. All stumbling around with flashlights, trying not to bang our shins on the furniture. John was actually in the shower when the lights went out. Another Haitian adventure.

Monday, April 7, 2014

First Steps

Today was our first day at St. Vincent's. Four of our team were first time visitors. For the rest of us, it feels like coming home to enter the gates and be greeted by familiar faces and big smiles. The kids run up and greet the people they recognize, like family.