The only thing on my schedule today was to go to the bank to send an international wire transfer. I never made it there. Before I could, the day would turn bizarre and then surreal in the mountains high above Port-au-Prince.
When I first arrived in rural Honduras in 2002, communication with the outside world was severely limited, and I relished the solitude. Ten years later, I’m suffocated by the ubiquity of electronic communication.
Quarantine for patients or health care workers was not considered a valid option during the swine flu epidemic, but now with one imported case of Ebola in New York City, quarantine has been implemented in several states in direct opposition to experts at the CDC and World Health Organization (WHO). Fear and politics, not science, are the reasons behind these contrasting policies.
Ebola is not the virus to fear. Fear and panic are spreading faster than any organic living matter possibly could.
Dominique came to the internal medicine clinic desperately searching for help. The tumor had burst through the skin on his left shoulder, leaving an open wound. The wound had started to leak and had a distinct smell that indicated an infection.
“Either way, no matter what we do, you’ll live less than 12 months, probably less than nine. Even if we were in the United States, your disease is incurable.” He nodded slowly in understanding.
In Salvador, the party blares until midnight, then quiets so that the neighborhood can rest before waking up early to songs of worship from the numerous churches.
In a developing country, a school child who cannot hear cannot learn. They are often placed in schools for mentally retarded children, if they attend school at all. A hearing aid can mean the difference between a child finishing high school and never attending school at all.
At that moment, Haiti’s first emergency medical system helicopter, a project we’d been working on for over 12 months, roared to life.
A year has passed since the doors opened to the chemotherapy program at Project Medishare in Haiti. What has been gained and who have we lost?
In the hospital in Haiti, the patients demonstrate a colorful reliance on tone, gestures, and onomatopoeia to accentuate their feelings.
A previously unseen virus is tearing through the Western Hemisphere. A global traveler over the last decade, it has made its way from sub-Saharan Africa into Asia and now into the Caribbean, exploding into eighteen new countries in a matter of months, discovering a multitude of new hosts in this region of the world.
The wind continued to howl and the waves crashed over the hull, slowly filling the stern with seawater. The Cuban exiles clung to the small craft for their lives, knowing that to be tossed overboard would mean certain doom.
He had the typical story of a patient who slowly developed the signs and symptoms of colon cancer, except for his young age — 24.
She marked an “X” on the signature line of the consent form, indicating that she agreed to participate in the study. Although she’s unable to read, Marie Maude was excited to partake in the research.
Full service is the key to full healing.
Haiti’s Carnival, or Kanaval in Creole, is not one weekend but an entire season, fusing the French tradition of pre-Lenten celebrations with a uniquely Haitian embrace of the intransience of life.
The last time I sat at the United Nations headquarters was for a conference on HIV and AIDS seven years ago. In January, I returned for a conference on the same topic, this time focused on how sports can reinforce the messages of HIV prevention.
While challenging, practicing medicine without modern resources is to rediscover the art of medicine.
Over 55,000 people die of rabies every year, the majority from dog bites in Africa and Asia. Haiti allegedly has one of the highest rates of prevalence in the Western Hemisphere. However, much like all health issues in Haiti, the dearth of available data makes it impossible to know the true pervasiveness of the disease.
A phone conversation with a friend of a friend in Philadelphia changed the way that I can help people in Haiti, but it all started when a young American man on a bus in Costa Rica changed healthcare all over the world.
Two patients. Two illnesses. One problem.
Circumstances of birth and fate have too often sentence the unlucky to death. It’s now within our means to defy destiny, to stop accepting the inevitable.
A bus accident, a full ambulance and a new resident. Another day in Haiti.
At least once a day, I sit in a room across from a patient and tell them that the cancer that they have is incurable and will ultimately claim their life.
They lined up early in the morning, just as the sun was rising. They awaited the team’s arrival outside the small church constructed of irregular, wooden walls and a tin roof, on benches that usually function as church pews. Far off the paved road, on a path of rocks and dirt carved in the grass by foot traffic, they assembled expectantly.
Haiti is more than an earthquake, more than the political dysfunction, more than a series of coup d’états. Haiti possesses a rich tradition of art and music, a mélange of Afro-Caribbean, French and Spanish influences.
My first helicopter ride might have been my last if the storm was any rougher than anticipated.
Gabrielle was three months pregnant with her first child when she fell off the back of a moving tap tap, one of the garishly decorated trucks that serve as Port-au-Prince’s only public transportation system, and was dragged several blocks after her leg caught on the trailer hitch.
I wasn’t sure that we were ready to grow the size and scope of the chemotherapy program. New cancers meant new types of chemotherapy, developing treatment protocols and required further training for the staff. Maybe we had already lain too much on the staff at this point.