West Tennessee Haiti Partnership

Message from Allison Smith, Tulane medical student in Port-au-Prince

We finally got wireless back (who knows for how long). We spent all day working in the General Hospital in Port au Prince. We have doctors from the US, Switzerland, Norway and the Canadian Red Cross. Since this is one of the biggest hospitals, people keep coming here bringing people on mats, in wheelbarrows, in cars. We are mainly doing amputations- there are so many people who have lost limbs from getting crushed. I spent all day triaging people and trying to get those who need emergency surgery to the operating rooms. We had somewhat of a riot from people being frustrated about not getting care. They are angry at how slow the aid is coming. The army finally went out today. We had some troops briefly secure the hospital but they left. Security will be a huge issue at night as people need care and one doctor is the only one who will stay overnight. We have hundreds, maybe thousands of people outside needing urgent care but they will have to wait until we deal the major trauma cases. The morgue is nearby and littered with bodies. We have had many die today during clinic and more will tonight.

The most moving experience of today was a boy who had passed away during transport to the hospital. His mother pulled down the towel, recognized him, and starting wailing. We told her that we needed to move the body and that she had a few minutes with him. She began a voodoo chant and was singing and thrashing about as she sent his spirit to heaven. It was such an amazing experience to watch. What we are seeing is simply unbelievable.

In terms of security here, there are some looters being handled by the police but the Army needs to establish control as the supplies run out and aid only trickles in. There are people camped out everywhere, no plan of where to put those whose homes are gone and many refuse to leave the hospital grounds because of that. We are going to keep working in the General Hospital for the next few days, then expand to the tent cities, which keep growing larger daily, and then some rural areas. Please tell people at Tulane what is up- the Dean, everyone. Haiti needs money and supplies.


Alison A. Smith
MD/PhD Program
Tulane University School of Medicine

sent in by Jiselle Bock
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