Greetings from Jérémie.  As some of you know, Cherlie and I were supposed to be in the US right now, travelling to NY/NJ to visit with family and churches, Milwaukee for a board meeting, Louisville for a medical missions conference and back home before Thanksgiving.  Then, Hurricane Matthew came along and changed our lives forever and our plans immediately.  We decided to stay here in Haiti in order to keep our clinic open and to serve as a bit of hope in the midst of despair.

Cherlie and I re- opened the clinic on Monday, October 17th and our patients have been grateful to see us.  Many of them are coming for medication refills, some have fevers and some are recovering from injuries sustained during the hurricane.  All of them have lost their houses and many of their possessions.  But, most of them somehow held onto their clinic receipt so we can look up their clinic record!  Amazing with all the water around that their receipts are intact (many of them were kept in a plastic medication bag, so they were protected from the water).

Nurse Vetelie Charles does some patient teaching at the start of our first day back in clinic.

Nurse Vetelie Charles does some patient teaching at the start of our first day back in clinic.

 

As we go up and down the mountain, we see signs of re-building, albeit not always polished.  Some people have collected tin that came off of other roofs and have put it on their house.  Others have built both walls and roof out of tin scraps.  In fact, people frequently recount how many people with thatched roof houses now have tin roofs!  Others have repaired part of their roof with tin scraps and used a tarp to cover the rest.  And, others have used the bark of fallen coconut trees to construct a new, little house until they can repair their old one.

Tin scraps cover a house that lost its roof

Tin scraps cover a house that lost its roof

 

Trees are starting to get new leaves, corn stalks are standing up, banana trees have sprouted new growth and the hills are greening up.  No longer is there that “scorched earth” look to the hills and valleys.  The worst is over, better days are to come.

CATCHING UP

We always like to acknowledge our visitors and didn’t have time to write a blog about our last visitors before the hurricane.  I wrote and told them that they were the last ones to see Jérémie as it was, not as it is now!  In September we had a wonderful team from Avera in South Dakota spend a week with us.  The team consisted of team leader and nurse Kathy English, nurse practitioners Theresa Hansen and Greta Martin, respiratory therapist Sharon Haverty, ultrasound technicians Paige Paquette and Aimee Hardy, ER nurse Karen Heideman, ER tech and pre-med student Dylan Goehner and technician Nicholas Romereim.  They helped with patient consultations, brought us an oxygen concentrator and taught us how to use it, taught Cherlie and me to do ultrasounds, painted, sanded and packed lots of medications.  We appreciated their help and their service to us and to our patients.  Thanks Avera Team!

Cherlie helps visiting RN Karen start an IV on a dehydrated patient

Cherlie helps visiting RN Karen start an IV on a dehydrated patient

 

Sharon and Kathy stand beside the oxygen concentrator the team brought down in their luggage!

Sharon and Kathy stand beside the oxygen concentrator the team brought down in their luggage!

 

Nicholas (L) and Dylan (R) paint a door for the pharmacy building

Nicholas (L) and Dylan (R) paint a door for the pharmacy building

 

Nurse Practitioner Theresa in her consultation room

Nurse Practitioner Theresa in her consultation room

 

Cherlie with her ultrasound teachers Paige (L) and Aimee (R)

Cherlie with her ultrasound teachers Paige (L) and Aimee (R)

 

Nurse practitioner Greta Martin helping out with Pap smear exams

Nurse practitioner Greta Martin helping out with Pap smear exams

 

The whole Avera team outside the clinic

The whole Avera team outside the clinic

 

For many years, Avera has been providing funds to build houses for rural Haitians such as those who live near our clinic.  While the team was here, we took them to see the home of a woman who has helped us out with light yard work since we first started our clinic ten years ago.  Marie has raised three sons on her own and they live a short distance down the hill from the clinic.  While they were visiting in September, the team went to see Marie and her home:

Avera team going to visit Marie’s home in September

Avera team going to visit Marie’s home in September

Unfortunately, Marie’s house was one of the thousands that were destroyed by the recent hurricane.  We think Marie and her family need some of those rebuilding funds soon!

Marie stands in front of what’s left of her home after Hurricane Matthew

Marie stands in front of what’s left of her home after Hurricane Matthew

 

THE VALUE OF POSSESSIONS

A few months ago an elderly man came to the clinic for consultation.  When he came into my consultation room, he carefully placed his satchel on the floor beside his chair.  Then, he covered it with an object that caught my attention because I couldn’t, in a brief glance, figure out what it was.  I took a history from him, trying to concentrate when my attention was really on the “object”.  I didn’t want to stare at it and make him feel uncomfortable but I had to figure out what it was!  I found my chance as I got up to listen to his heart and lungs.  He dutifully took deep breaths in and out and I was able to look straight down onto the object of my curiosity and, thus, solve my puzzle.  Here, draped across his old fabric satchel was a threadbare worn out towel.  The fabric had become so thin from use that it was difficult to tell that one day it had been made of terrycloth.  My patient now obviously carried it to wipe his sweaty brow as he walked along the mountain paths from his home.

One’s natural inclination would be to replace the old towel with a brand new one, presented to the patient in a grand manner, as evidence of our wonderful generosity.  But, looking at the towel carefully draped over the satchel, I began to think.  “How many brows has that towel wiped,” I thought.  “How many tears have been shed into its worn fabric?  How many gallons of bathing water has it absorbed for its owner and how many visitors has it served in his small, simple rural house.

I didn’t say anything about the towel that day.  Some time, when the time is right, I’ll offer him a replacement.

The object of my curiosity

The object of my curiosity

 

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