Update from VT Haiti Relief Team (COME GREET MEMBERS OF TEAM 1 AT AIRPORT 5:30pm, Sunday, Jan 31)

by Jennifer Henry, RN:

The update below is brought to you by Brian Cunningham, EMT from the Emergency Department. He is a member of TEAM 1.

Our colleagues continue to save lives, support each other and make a lasting impact on the recovery of a nation and its people. They are our heroes and they have our respect and admiration. Please send along your thoughts, and I will share them with our teams.

Two of our team members return tomorrow (Sunday Jan 31) at 5:30pm at the Burlington Airport. Please join us to welcome them home! (Please park on the streets surrounding the airport to allow travelers the spaces in the garage.)

We must teach the FAHC Administration to support disaster relief in ways that provide real help to those in need. They must also improve their ability to assist and acknowledge the great work of the Teams we have send and are sending. As of the date of this email, FAHC Administration has not supported our efforts. We have had to fund-raise all funds to send Teams 2 -12 as well as supplies and other expenses. They have not acknowledged te media coverage of our teams with their media updates to staff; they will not accept the "invitation" letter we provided (at their request) from the international organization in charge of the hospital at which our teams are working; they will not help facilitate fund raising to allow our teams to continue to work in the Dominican Republic and Haiti; they will not help facilitate supplies or medications that are necessary.

Please attend the FAHC Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday, Februrary 9th at 2pm to hear from TEAM 1 and an update on the on-going needs. Encourage members of the community to attend as well.

Please encourage your managers to continue to talk about the needs in Haiti, to help gather supplies when they are available (clean materials that would otherwise be thrown out), and to facilitate the participation of staff who are able and willing to travel. Overtime should be used when necessary, but we all understand it should not be the first choice.

We want to thank the staff in the Travel and infectious disease clinic for facilitating the teams ability to get immunizations. They are GREAT!

Please encourage friends, family and co-workers to donate to the www.VermontHaitiProject.org and designate "medical teams" if possible. They are helping fund the airfare and supplies for our teams so we can continue with teams through April. We are working to get free airfare for future teams.

The need will continue and we intend to continue to send willing staff members of all job titles to help the people of Haiti.

- Jennifer Henry, RN and President of Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals
United Professions AFT Vermont

Vermont Haiti Relief Team - Saludos otra véz
Thu Jan 28

Hello again from the DR! It has been four days since my last update, and boy have we been busy. I have a lot to tell you all. To add some context to this post, I would like to preface this with the fact that I am currently in a bus on the way from Santo Domingo to Jimani with another group of Vermonters! There are 13 additional Vermont-derived staff members joining us and we are all very excited! But before I get into what’s transpiring today, let me catch you up on what’s been going on in Hospital Buen Samaritano in Jimani…

Since my last post, the members of the first Vermont team have been hard at work at the Good Samaritan hospital in Jimani, Dominican Republic. This team consists of health professionals from Fletcher Allen Healthcare, supported by the Vermont Nursing Union (props to the AFT for the aircard I’m using to write this post). Among these professionals are Brian G., Brian C., Jeremiah, Bill, David, Bob, Jackie, Sarah, Joan, Susana, and Mari. The certification levels include MD, EMT, RRT, and RN and all eleven of us have been spread around this facility assisting in any way possible. Brian G., Brian C., and Jeremiah have been coordinating the transportation of patients in and out of our facility and have been working tirelessly (especially Jeremiah) to allocate scarce resources to profoundly ill patients (of which there are approximately 300 in a facility suited for 30) that require more specialized medical care. This work has proven to be especially difficult, and has included substantial battles with local political figureheads, and been assisted by the US military, the Dominican military, and an entrepreneur and his friends from Utah that came to the DR with three helicopters to use for patient evacuations. Working with these men and the American/Dominican government has been a privilege, and they have made facilitating the patient movement far easier and have improved our ability to care for acute patients.

Bill, MD in conjunction with Kimball (another Vermonter), has been working in a clinic just over the Haitian border. The population of patients Bill serves is a one of the only clinics in the Haitian town of Fond Parisien, which received a massive influx of patients after the initial earthquake. Bill says the clinic sees approximately 300 patients each day, most of which present with medical issues (atraumatic) and require general medical care. A major focus of Bill’s presence at his clinic has been the establishment of a surgical facility in a separate building at the clinic’s compound. Bill found the building, which had been established by Christian missionaries a few years ago, but was never functional. It includes two birthing rooms, an operating room with an anesthesia ventilator, sterilization equipment, a post-anesthesia room with approximately six beds, and two bathrooms and two showers. Upon finding this “polished diamond in the rough,” Bill’s goal for this trip has been to make it functional. On 27 January, prior to departing for Santo Domingo to get the next group of people for this trip, Brian G., and Brian C. went to see this location, and found just that. What will come of this clinic, and our Vermont team’s involvement in it remains to be seen, but you can expect updates here as soon as they are available.

David, MD has continued his work in the wound clinic at Buen Samaritano working to clean and debride infected wounds. He states they are making substantial progress in this clinic, and has enlisted the support of a nurse anesthetist to perform conscious sedations on patients that require it.

Bob, our favorite respiratory therapist has been quite busy doing exactly what it is that he does best: making people smile. There isn’t a day that goes by down here that I don’t think about how great it is that Bob has made the trip with us. As Jen’s e-mail previously stated, Bob does what it takes to get the job done, and he always does it with a smile on. I frequently pass Bob driving the ambulance, moving patients, and doing what it takes to keep this place functioning at a high level.

Our nursing staff, our fabulous nursing staff, Jackie, Sarah, Joan, Susana, and Mari have been hard at work keeping the Haitian people’s needs accommodated. They have noticed that Haitians as a demographic are highly attentive to the needs of their family members, and frequently say they have easy shifts because their patients are so docile and accommodating. With respect to other nurses here, our Vermont nurses are getting high praise for their hard work…no surprise to us here, they work their butts off.

As I finish this entry on the bus to Jimani with this new group of Vermonters to work at the Good Samaritan, I can practically feel the energy they’re exuding. Their presence here is refreshing, and their optimism is inspiring. I hope that they will continue to build upon the connections we have made here, and continue to uphold the level of care we are more than sure they are capable of providing. Welcome to them, and I hope they enjoy their time at this lovely place.

-Brian C.

Jennifer Henry

President, United Professions AFT Vermont

PO Box 948

Burlington, VT 05402