By Rick Spurlock
The mornings can be tough in Haiti, usually the fault of the preceding evenings festivities or the roosters that seem to start crowing as soon as you close your eyes. But this is not another day for an ER physician from Atlanta. This being my 10th trip to Haiti for either a medical or surgical trip with Project Medishare, I feel, whether true or not that this is another experience with which to treasure and store away forever. The same themes tend to ring true in the mornings on every trip, “damn this coffee is great,” “this fruit is so fresh,” and “wow too much Prestige last night.” The energizing chatter of the group, 30 of us this time, is intoxicating as we prepare to head out to our mobile clinic site. There is so much diversity and so many people with different life experiences. Each with different reasons for coming on this trip. It is a great team…one of the best I have been with.
The stark reality of our beautiful world, and one that stands out when you come here is what our capabilities are in America compared to the potential, yet lacking, capabilities here. We have done well on this trip, proudly we march in our 4-wheeled vehicles to our site with ultrasound capability, urinalysis dipsticks, hemoglobinometers, palm pilots and a ton of meds literally…and whatever else we could truck up this forsaken road. We have some of the most brilliant minds in medicine here. People trained by the best and brightest of our planet with experiences ranging from Harvard to Liberia and of course Miami and Emory. We have a large part of medicine “covered” on our trip: OB/GYN, Pediatrics, Infectious Disease, and Emergency Medicine, but still we are lacking. Unable to predict the patients needs and ability to function in a setting with which we are used to in the States, we are reduced to the level of those who practiced medicine centuries prior. Truly it is an honor to be a part of such a noble group of people.
The capabilities we have in America versus those in rural Haiti are polar, but the work with the Department of Health, Project Medishare, Partners In Health, and others in the central plateau will hopefully begin to close these gaps. At the end of the day today, we saved some lives, made others better, learned much and had a lot of fun.