These interviews with US medical students on the ground in Haiti for the past week highlight not only the progress being made to treat and care for the sick and injured, but also the tremendous journey ahead to save these people in desperate need as logistical and political barriers persist:
Alison Smith, a medical student at Tulane University, Wednesday (January 20):
The General Hospital in Port-au-Prince is slowly becoming more organized. When I think of how it was the first night I arrived (no physicians and no real medical care) to what we have now (seven operating rooms, medicine wards, a pre-operation and post-operation area, a pediatrics area), it is amazing.
Today I finally had the opportunity to go back and reassess people sleeping outside the hospital who may have received some basic medical care right after the earthquake. I was able to go back and change dressings, provide medicines and send people into the hospital who would have died in the next few days. We have limited food and water and some clothing, so I am trying to provide some to people who have no family. They are at the greatest risk for dying soon, as they have no one to care for them and we have no room for them in the hospital. We are supposed to get food and water for the patients tomorrow. There is a United Nations supply center that has food and supplies, but the Army has not brought them to us. The situation was more tense today as people are getting frustrated and we narrowly sidestepped some riots.
Josh Denson, 25, Tulane University Grad ’06 and third year medical student at Tulane, Wednesday (January 20):
I just woke up today sleeping on the concrete by this pool at some hotel to either an aftershock or an earthquake. The pool water was moving back and forth and the people were yelling a bit. There are sick people everywhere, people are losing limbs and different parts of their bodies constantly. Everyone has infections and there aren’t people or resources to even change all the bandages. Compared to three days ago when we first showed up at the general hospital in Port-au-Prince, it’s 100 percent better. Three days ago was absolute chaos.