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Sunday, January 24, 2010

January 22 Update

This is an extract from the diary of Dr. Malcolm Smith (MGH)

Dear everyone,

It’s been another hard day in Haiti. There is some good news, but the situation continues to be very precarious, indeed, it is more precarious each day, and although many people are working really hard on their behalf to get them support and supplies, the only organization that has managed to get anything through is Partners in Health. Partners in Health is keeping them up and running, but they are hanging on by their fingernails, but are in desperate need of other support as well, particularly having to do with supply and logistics.

Here are some of Malc’s texts from yesterday:
First thing in the morning: “In car, going to get kit [i.e., medical supplies at the airport in Port-au-Prince]. Team working really well.”
Noon: “Made it to PoP. Running out of antiseptic drugs at hospital, but just found a box from Brigham and Women’s, full enough to work for more than a week… gold dust.”
4:15. “Spoke to U.S. Ranger on way out of town, and he said only minimal trouble.”
And from 1:35 am this morning: “Late day, but we are all ok. Infections and complications starting to kill people.
And from 1:30 p.m. this afternoon: “Been too busy to contact. Please pass on the following: went to capital yesterday to raid essential supplies. Was successful, but complete confusion there––major problems with multiple teams having to work out policies. We have it much better as a group here in St Marc. Came back happy, but happiness didn’t last long, because 5 patients had died and moral had really dipped. Team, though pulling together and working.
Saw lots of confusion in Port-au-Prince. Clear that non coordinated aid is worse than no aid as it blocks very limited transport resources. Logistics essential with coordination. Have ortho supplies just for us on a Synthes [the maker of these supplies] private jet loaded and ready to leave with landing time set with military ATC for this evening. Thank you Art Leary! Love any help we can get with this. Medical situation here and in capital worsening as infected patients die. The hospital ship is now here, but no news on how to transfer our patients.
We will soon need co-ordinated surgical supply, but planning for restocking very difficult as country has no distribution network. Partners in Health have been very good at helping, and have 2 reps at airport to meet the Synthes plane currently. Anyone who can offer help needs to be coordinated through them, but situation changes by the minute. Much more numerical need in capital, and from visit clear that if/when cholera hits thousands will die. But surgical risks same here at St Marc as in capital, with numbers of cases outstripping resources. Worried that we will get COMPLETELY stopped by something we have not thought about.”

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