I returned to Haiti with MMRC Haiti. MMRC is dedicated to the helping Haitian orphanages, running logistics for medical personnel and getting donated supplies to people who need them most.
We spent our days at an orphanage in Titanyen, Haiti. The kids there just simply melt your heart! The live with meager shelter (girls have a tent to sleep in and the boys sleep outside), limited food and water, and very little medical care. They have few toys and not enough clothes and shoes to go around. The nurses in our group conducted health assessments for the kids. We treated multiple cases of tinea capitis (a common fungal infection of the scalp) as well as some other common childhood ailments. We created an online record for each child to help coordinate care and share information between medical teams that visit the orphanage. The non-medical part of our team spent the days building showers for the kids who currently have no running water.
We spent some of our nights working in the ER and triage at a local NGO run hospital because they were short staffed and only had 3 volunteer nurses that week. In the ER we treated everything from lacerations to fractures to hypoglycemic emergencies.
MMRC Haiti also conducted medical transfers of patients. Weather it was a child with cholera, an adult with severe sepsis, a pregnant woman or a baby, we would place them in our vehicle and take them to the place where they would get the most appropriate care. Real ambulances are a rare commodity in Port Au Prince so we treat and transfer patients in the back of an old pick up truck.
My favorite part of working in Haiti is working along side the Haitian people. At MMRC Haiti we have a great group of Haitian guys that are our coworkers, security, translators and friends. One of our Haitian coworkers came to us and told us that MSPP (the Haitian Ministry of Health) was pulling bodies from his neighborhood daily. They were dying of cholera. He asked us to come teach a cholera class. We jumped at the chance and we held several cholera education classes in his neighborhood teaching both treatment and prevention measures. We were happy to see some of the class members passing on the info to more locals after class.
I never like leaving Haiti. Haiti makes me a better person. It makes me a better steward of health care resources in the states and makes me grateful to have them. Haiti makes me think outside the box to solve patient care problems. Haiti makes me realize how many things I can live without and teaches me the true meaning of human perseverance and resilience. I hope to return soon.
Laura Brown, RN, BSN, CCRN grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina and graduated from Belmont University in 2002. Laura works in Med/Surg ICU at the University of Washington Medical Center. Laura has been on six medical missions to Haiti since the earthquake of 2010 and continues to be amazed at the spirit of the Haitian people. She lives in the Seattle area with her husband and their two dogs. Laura enjoys volunteering at a prison pet reading program, hiking and traveling.