"I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you
who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve" Albert Schweitzer

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Year In Review From Terry Dietrich

Haiti Adventist Hospital has served the people of Carrefour, Port as Prince and beyond for about 30 years. It miraculously was not significantly damaged on January 12. Within 2 weeks, it was cleared by engineers to function as a hospital. It's normal operation as primarily a small center for OB/GYN and occasional cases of urology and general surgery was totally disrupted. Dr Nelson started caring for the patients injured in the earthquake and did orthopedic stabilizations on hundreds of victims with the help of many orthopedic and specialty teams. Millions of dollars of orthopedic implants for fracture fixation were generously donated by orthopedic companies. Most of that donated material eventually found its way to HAH. He went well beyond caring for the earthquake victims and began treating many orthopedic cases that had been neglected for years and even decades. An example is Staille. Look up the Youtube video that was made of her. She returned to the clinic a couple of weeks ago and the external fixators were removed. She is walking much better all the time. A final video will be made to add to Youtube in a few months. Because of Dr Nelson's unselfish efforts, HAH has become known as the primary orthopedic referral center for most of the country. Patients are transferred here from all regions of the country with spinal and extremity trauma. Arthroscopy equipment has been obtained and now adds another important orthopedic capability.
The hospital is still in recovery mode from the disaster and the overwhelming number of patients, mainly indigents, that have been cared for in the last 12 months. It struggles to meet its overhead. There are high hopes that in 2-3 months the picture will brighten. A new patient wing project which has been dormant for several years is the top priority. Its completion will allow us to attract more paying patients to increase the hospital's revenue stream. Teams of volunteers with expertise in construction could help to finish that project, A strong effort has been put forth to remodel the ORs so that we can begin doing total joint replacement. Boldt construction in Wisconsin has made a generous proposal to see that project through. That would also have potential to improve the hospital's financial picture. If the hospital is strong financially, then it should be possible to fund a program so that excellent perpetual care can be provided to the indigents.
Meanwhile, the challenges continue. The volume of orthopedic cases that present daily in the clinic could be managed by one orthopedic surgeon. However, it would leave virtually no time for anything else. Managing the many challenging surgical cases requires at least another full time orthopedist. The cases cover the entire spectrum of orthopedic subspecialties. Children's deformities, trauma, infections, tumors, spine, sportsmedicine, upper extremity trauma and deformities, and adult reconstruction are evenly represented. Is there a living orthopedic surgeon besides Scott Nelson who has the ability let alone boldness and confidence to even attempt to undertake such a challenge? Fortunately, there are excellent, well trained subspecialists who are generous with their time and resources and have participated already and continue to commit to support the work here. Orthopedists such as John Herzenberg, Bob Cady, Karl Rathjen, Todd Smith, Fred Liss, Allen and Cassie Gabriel, Gerald King, Duncan Miles and many others too numerous to mention, have all made valuable contributions. One of the biggest challenges facing the orthopedic program is the lack of regular anesthesia services. Cases of necessity are at times delayed as much as several days when volunteers are unavailable to give anesthesia. Another urgent need is assistance in managing patients with comorbidities. Patients needing general surgical consultation require transfer to another facility. No equipment or expertise is available for post anesthesia monitoring or ICU management. Blood is difficult if not nearly impossible to obtain for pre and postsurgical patients.
The Haitian presidential election fueled civil unrest in Port au Prince in December, created major uncertainties for specialty teams with plans to work at HAH. Several teams postponed or cancelled their travel plans and leadership made the decision to evacuate all expatriates from the country until fears of more violence subsided. It is too early to tell what lasting effects will result from more than 2 weeks of orthopedic care being unavailable.
Optimism abounds at HAH as volunteers continue to daily throw themselves into the tasks at hand. Training orthopedic technicians is a challenge and delight. It is very gratifying to watch the first trainee, Jean Joel, enthusiastically apply his quick mind to learning new concepts and skills. Working with the Haitian translators gives all of the volunteers daily cultural interaction that is priceless.
The very important prosthetics program is about to get into high gear. In November, Project Hope installed the buildings for housing patients in need of prosthetics and the lab for patient examination and prosthetic construction. The man in charge of the development of the prosthetics program arrived a few days ago. Now the key elements are in place for the hundreds and perhaps thousands of the unfortunate earthquake victims who lost ams and legs and still need artificial limbs.
The need for infectious disease expertise is pressing. Many of the earthquake victims had open wounds, commonly associated with fractures. A significant percentage of those wounds and fractures developed chronic infections due to the delay in proper initial wound care. Many other patients present to the orthopedic clinic daily with chronic bone and joint infections that have been part of their lives since long before January 12. These patients again highlight the years of orthopedic neglect that the indigent Haitians have lived with for decades. It is nearly impossible to obtain timely and accurate cultures to identify organisms. If drug sensitivities could be obtained in a timely fashion, the appropriate antibiotics may or may not be available. Broad spectrum antibiotics are relatively available but who knows for how long. The pharmacy is badly in need of strong leadership and organization and we could always use the assistance of a biomedical engineer.
None of the needs that are presented here added to those not even mentioned are so great that several million dollars couldn't easily solve. Global Health has done a remarkable work at organizing the relief efforts. The funds raised have been applied in effective ways. Perhaps with renewed interest on the anniversary of the disaster, there will be a 10 fold or even 100 fold increase in the financial support of HAH through Global Health that will transform the effort into a world class program.
Much more can be said of this incredible God blessed opportunity. Every person reading these words can be privileged to participate in this work either by a personal commitment to volunteer or a gift of financial support.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Adopting Haiti

It was 5:52 p.m. on January 12, 2010, just one hour after a massive earthquake had hit Haiti, and Timothy Wolfer wrote an impulsive but sincere post on his Facebook page. 
“Any one want to help a poor documentary film maker buy a ticket to Haiti?” 
For most other people, the comment would have been nothing more than an offhand shot in the dark. But Wolfer, a Pacific Union College film and television major with experience filming in humanitarian crisis zones, was so serious that immediately after posting, he began packing his bags.
Six hours later, an anonymous donor supplied Wolfer with two airplane tickets. Recruiting a friend to assist, Wolfer headed to the airport that weekend. All flights to Haiti were cancelled, so he did the next best thing: landing in the Dominican Republic, Wolfer hitchhiked with his camera equipment across the border into Haiti—a wasteland of devastation and uncertainty.
Now exactly one year later, the resulting film, Adopting Haiti, will be released to a worldwide audience online on Wednesday, January 12. Mattoid Entertainment will screen the film exclusively on www.hulu.com.

The documentary follows the story of Maison des Enfants de Dieu, an orphanage in Haiti. Through a friend’s connection Wolfer had been invited to stay at the orphanage. When he arrived, he unexpectedly found himself in the middle of a developing story. In the wake of the earthquake’s destruction, the U.S. State Department was trying to evacuate the orphanage’s children out of the disaster zone. The situation had stirred up media frenzy, as Fox News and CNN descended upon the orphanage.
Wolfer captured more than 20 hours of footage, chronicling the plight of the orphans, the efforts of the orphanage staff, and the eventual military evacuation of those children who had American families waiting for them. Some of his exclusive footage was used on news broadcasts from Haiti; the rest he carefully sorted upon returning to PUC and began editing into a documentary initially called Taking Haiti Home. 
His first screening of the work in progress, at the Cameo Theater in nearby St. Helena, was a big hit. The film was well received, and Wolfer invited Greg and Tawnya Constantino, adoptive parents who were featured in the movie, for a spirited and informative question and answer session. 
Not long after, Wolfer was afforded a serendipitous opportunity. By chance, a friend and colleague met one of the heads of Mattoid Entertainment, an independent film distribution company founded by entertainment industry veterans Andrew Robinson, Jenna Edwards and Jeremy McGovern. Mattoid was seeking to acquire and distribute new documentary films. The colleague couldn’t give enough praise for Wolfer’s film, and by the end of the conversation Robinson asked for an introduction.
The resulting conversation and film screening impressed Mattoid Entertainment. “We…felt that it had a lot of heart, was well put together and really took you inside the world of those going through the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake,” says Edwards. “It is a heart-felt documentary that takes you into the trenches and was made by a wonderful filmmaker, so we are all very excited …to get the film out.”
Wolfer and Mattoid reached an agreement, and the company took over marketing and distribution while Wolfer retained rights to the film and final cut approval. Having worked with online distribution before, Mattoid felt that an online release would be the best outlet for the film to remain timely and to receive the broadest possible audience. 
Wolfer’s next priority is to finish school and complete his bachelor’s degree in film and television at PUC. But in the long term, he plans to develop more documentaries—“something adventurous,” he says, that involves more travel and more opportunities to experience different cultures.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Haiti: Through Our Own Eyes

In the year following the devastating Haitian Earthquake child rights organisation Plan International commissioned a photojournalist to train and work with 22 Haitian teenagers. Over the course of two weeks these young people documented the world through their own eyes.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Photographer Looks Back At Surviving Haiti Quake

Dan Woolley was in the Hotel Montana in Port-au-Prince last January when Haiti was struck by a massive earthquake. He was rescued days later, after living in the hotel's elevator. He looks back at his ordeal, with the AP's Rich Matthews.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Doctor In Haiti Used Rebar To Fix Broken Leg

Volunteer surgeon, Dr Bill Tendhaaf, ran out of "external fixators" early on so he went into the trash found some rebar and went work. No pain killers in this hospital. Instead, the patients were singing Christian hymns to get their minds off the agony.  No rebar being used at HAH, but there remains a continuing need for equipment and supplies to maintain the orthopaedic program.

Haiti Earthquake Aftermath Montage

A week after the devastating earthquake hit Haiti, Khalid Mohtaseb was hired to shoot ENG footage for two international networks. This is a montage of personal footage he shot of the aftermath during his spare time, in and around Port au Prince.  A couple of days before the anniversary of The Big One, these images serve as a reminder of how devastating the initial event was.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Haiti: One Year Later

Médecins sans Frontières teams established a major orthopaedic center in Carrefour, very close to Hopital Adventiste, shortly after the Big Quake.  Now the MSF facilty is closed to musculoskeletal trauma and the Dietrichs, with help from volunteers, are picking up the slack at HAH.

Friday, January 7, 2011

On Eve Of Haiti Quake Anniversary Little Change

Little has changed except at Hopital Adventiste d'Haiti where the orthopaedic program that Dr Scott Nelson started shortly after the Big Quake is flourishing under the guidance of Terry and Jeannie Dietrich.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Photographer Reflects On The Difficult Year For Haiti

Photographer Damon Winter reflects on the difficult year for Haiti starting at the 30 second mark extending for the next 4 minutes.  Ignore the rest of the video on how the Tea Party helped set the political agenda in 2010 and Oprah Winfrey's new cable network.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Haiti: Where Aid Failed

Haiti should be an unlikely backdrop for the latest failure of the humanitarian relief system. The country is small and accessible and, following last January's earthquake, it hosts one of the largest and best-funded international aid deployments in the world. An estimated 12,000 non-governmental organisations are there. Why then, have at least 2,500 people died of cholera, a disease that's easily treated and controlled?
As you read more on the story and ponder the dysfunction that has plagued many NGO efforts to date, it makes one realize what a great opportunity exists for a prospective donor to maximize bang for the buck by contributing to the Ortho Program at Hopital Adventiste.
Image by Nicholas Kamm