So here I sit, having had 4 hours of sleep after my first night shift and I am just not used to the heat yet (+32C right now) so sleep will have to come later...Thank you everyone for your comments and emails, they are appreciated and I am sorry I cannot respond to them all individually...
I promised my Nurse friends that I would post something more specifically about the type of nursing I am doing down here so I will try and give you a glimpse of what I am doing... The clinic is set up in what used to be a boy's orphanage and it's proven (at least for me) to be quite effective for a "make-shift" clinic. There are no private or semi-private rooms, no sinks or alcohol stations set up between patients but we do our best. The patients are set up on cots in what used to be the courtyard, sexes mixed,ages mixed and everyone appears to get along as best they can, I suppose. The patients have no name bands on but there are tapes above their beds with their names posted on them which is great if they are in bed. However, in 2 short days I have gotten to know most of them.. Oh and most only speak Creole but we have great interpreters that are a saving grace and my french has come back quickly which helps me understand a bit better!
The Dr.'s that are here are also great!! Dr. Jennifer Halverson who has spent a significant amount of time in Haiti prior to the quake truly loves all of these patients and their families and continues to do things for them that are selfless and I admire her dedication. Barbie (yes like the doll but nothing like the doll all at the same time!) is a Physicians Assistant (more like our Nurse Practitioner but more qualified) is also amazing. She is currently working in Alaska and is so skilled at everything she does...She loves her job and it shows..always willing to help out us nurses! And Anjali, a pediatric intensivist who left today :( She was only here a week but it truly was a privilege to work with her..she has 4 children at home and came here to help and I have enjoyed many conversations with her and I will miss her..oh and she is a wonderfully, caring dr as well!!
Our med room/lunch room/meeting room is next to out examination room that consists of 2 plastic (long picnic tables) and a large table of supplies..this room at night becomes sleeping quarters for the nannies of the orphanage (who are now providing meals and help in the clinic) We are out of med cups so the patients have their names on their cup and we reuse them and we are running out of 10cc syringes but we will make do..we are adaptable! The meds have all been donated so I am having to quickly learn the American equivalents to our drugs...Ultram, Rocephin anyone...sure if only i knew what that was! but I'm catching on!
Most of the patients who are still there are there for a number of reasons but mostly because they have infections and are needing antibiotics, have external fixators on that will need to be removed by either MERLIN or Double Harvest (another group doing great work down here) or they don't have safe homes to go home too...The picture at the top is a typical IV set up where we run our antibiotics as primaries and there are no pumps to run them on (oh good old drip rates...60 gtts/min divided by time....!!)
There are also a few people who have had skin grafts and most have at least one dressing that needs looking after. There is a lot of rehab, people learning to ambulate with crutches and we have had (since I have been here) 2 wonderful physical therapists working with the rehab aspect. I have heard that this earthquake will leave a significant portion of the population that will require special devices to live...there will also be a need for long term follow-up for the physical as well as the psychological effects this disaster has taken on them.
We have a wonderful Hatitan Nurse named Wini who I have been told showed up at the clinic after the quake and asked it they need help and subsequently was hired by Heartline. She is amazing and really has helped me so much!!
I have learned a lot I would not have learned at home..rapid malaria tests, rapid HIV testing, ortho stuff (which at home I loath but love here), and I have learned that people are amazing and I still have so much more to learn...
In addition to the inpatients we have been taking walk-ins (if the drs are there) and we have had women show up in labor (then we call Beth, one of the directors who is also a midwife), people with broken bones and a little girl the other day that had been pushed and had a cut on her head(Barbie sutured her up nicely as I held her down and she was not happy with us about it! :() But the walk ins are slowing down. People come to our clinic because its free and they have to pay at Haitian clinic. Heartline is looking at starting up a full time clinic in the future.
There is something to be said for the stillness of the quiet dawning morning..sitting amongst people I have just met but who are so resilient and accepting..holding a small baby who is curled up on my chest, sleeping and learning that there is so much to be thankful for in this life....
I am going to try and sleep a bit more or I will head up and try to make a few calls on SKYPE which btw is the best!!
Michelle, my friend my thoughts are with you and your family today. I am so sorry that this has happened to you...sending my love to you..
Matt, I am also sitting here envisioning you with a wonderful blue neon light encircling you...FLM
Bonne Nuit my friends