By Jennifer Browning
PORT-AU-PRINCE–The team traveled to the Hopital Universitaire de la Paix at 8 a.m. Much was to be done in preparation for today’s surgeries. Everyone participated in getting ready for the day. Mothers washed their babies’ hair so that their heads were clean for surgery, nurses took temperatures, identification bracelets were placed on the children, and final assessments were made.
Upon arriving to the hospital today, the nursing staff found that one of the children scheduled for surgery had found crackers. Surgical patients aren’t to have food eight hours before surgery. Fortunately, another child who had not eaten recently was found, so the planned surgeries will be able to stay on schedule. Surgical team coordinator said this situation isn’t unusual.
“This is pretty common,” surgical team coordinator Ann McNeil said. “Parents try to keep the child from eating before surgery and then a kid finds crackers, so we have to reschedule. In that case there isn’t much you can do.”
Surgical trips like these take careful planning and preparation. McNeil explained that the team tries not to rely on the partnering hospital in Haiti to have the appropriate equipment. So the team thoroughly packs everything from surgical instruments, anesthesia, and antibiotics to identification bracelets, thermometers, measuring strips, and catheters. An inventory is also created in case such information needs to be provided for Customs or the Ministry of Health in Haiti. But despite careful planning, sometimes delays are inevitable when working in a developing country.
With the surgical team landing in Port-au-Prince by 8:15 a.m. today, the plan was to get the remaining equipment through Customs be at the hospital by 11 a.m. But an unexpected delay in Customs kept the group from making their planned deadline. After waiting three hours to get through Customs with the remaining medical equipment, the group finally made it to la Paix.
The team’s arrival was a hectic one. There were scrubs to change into, more boxes to unpack, and an anesthesia and an oxygen machine to hook up. Apparently, the oxygen machine had the wrong adapter for the oxygen tank being provided. Surgery couldn’t begin until this was fixed. With the help of the hospital director, an adapter was found and the first surgery finally began at 2 p.m. with Coby John Lundy.