Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Haiti cholera assessment #2

When you think everything is under control and is going smoothly, something grabs your attention and takes over. An 8 year-old boy did that today. We went to 3 of our projects to look at a group of children who were identified last week as needing a more thorough "look-see". Jack and Edrice had done a very nice preliminary assessment of the children and identified those who looked moderately or severely ill and dehydrated. It was my turn to look at them now. Jack and Edrice had also handed out chlorine, soap, and education material to get the projects up to speed on cholera prevention. And from what I saw it was working. We saw about 100 children from the 3 projects, referred 14 of them for further care and transported 1 child urgently to the cholera treatment center. He was the one who got my attention. 8 years old but looked like he was 5, severely dehydrated,but also severely malnourished, more than likely from being ill for a while. He was lethargic, pale, weak pulses, and to be frank, looking to collapse permanently in just a few more hours. We rushed him to the CTC and he was immediately treated after I consulted with the physician there. By the time we left, he was getting IV therapy and was on a comprehensive fluid resuscitation protocol that the local physician and I put together. We also planned out a 1 week nutritional rescue program for him that would insure his recovery. He will do well.

We established a relationship with 2 hospitals that will take our children and care for them when needed. We meet with several physicians and discussed long term plans for cholera prevention and intervention. Cholera is here to stay for awhile, but I will tell you, that our projects are way ahead off the game, by having the chlorine, soap, and education in place. I am very encouraged with what I've seen and with what we've been able to do for our children.

As we move through the country, there is still evidence of the toll that cholera takes. I came across a young woman sitting in a wheel chair, an IV In her arm, and a blank stare. She was dripping the classical rice water stool from her wheel chair, unaware of the pool of diarrhea that she was leaving below her. People walked around her. I did too, but stopped briefly to touch her arm, to tell her that I was not ashamed to be there next to her, to let her know that she too should not be ashamed. I turned and left and knew that she may not make it. I could only hope that she felt my touch and knew that I was not afraid of her or her illness. Cholera in Haiti carries a stigma, no different than AIDS did many years ago, with people afraid to be near those affected. She deserves more than that.

I am so thankful for what we've done in our projects to prevent and avoid what I saw in the CTC tents. We move on tomorrow to 5 more of our projects. I am ever thankful for what we have in our lives, no matter how bad things may seem for us. Look at the pictures above. I think you'd agree.

In all things give thanks,